Review: Tiny Titans vs. Power Pack

Tiny Titans: Penguins in the BatcavePower Pack, Day One, #1
Rated A
Marvel, $2.99

Tiny Titans: Penguins in the Batcave
DC, $2.25

Two comics for kids, two very different approaches.

DC’s Tiny Titans is funny in a way that kids will appreciate. The art style is more reminiscent of Nick magazine than classic superhero comics, and the four stories in this issue are short, simple, and good for one quick laugh each. There are lots of superhero references, but they are all explained; the intent here is clearly to introduce kid-friendly versions of the DC canon in a simple, easy to read style. I do have two complaints: There were lots of ads, which interfered with the flow of the stories as they were not well demarcated, and $2.25 for 32 pages (including ads) doesn’t seem like much of a bargain. But then, I’m conditioned by manga.

Here’s the acid test: My eight-year-old nephew absolutely loves this series. We had a family event yesterday and he was walking around with the Tiny Titans FCBD comic, showing it to people and reading the jokes aloud. It totally cracks him up.

Power Pack, Day One, is a totally different animal, and to be fair, it seems to be written for older children despite its All Ages rating. Take a look at page one:

Power Pack Day One

Now mind you, this is page one of a brand-new series. Do you have any idea what’s going on? No, neither do I, and I don’t appreciate being told on page one that I should be buying another comic to help me understand. There is a preceding page that tells you that the adults are the Fantastic Four and names the four children, but in fact, nowhere in the comic do the editors bother to tell us their superhero names. Given that this is number one in a series, and an origin story at that, a better beginning might be to introduce the reader to the characters, rather than plunging in in the middle of some unrelated incident.

Once the story gets going, it’s pretty easy to follow; four kids are introduced, along with their inventor father, and some space aliens kidnap the parents and try to grab the kids as well. The art is dense but clear, and the writing is too, for the most part. However, the kidnapping sequence is cluttered with text balloons in which the fighting aliens introduce a fairly complicated backstory. I would much rather have seen this as, you know, sequential art than read about it in big blocks of text exposition.

Actually, the best part of the whole comic was the two-page extra in the back, in which Zero-G of the Power Pack talks about gravity. Yeah, it’s educational, but it’s also drawn in a more cartoony style that I would imagine would be easier for younger readers to follow, and it’s really cute.

The Power Pack comic has great production values, much better than Tiny Titans (which more closely resembles the cheap comics of my misspent youth), but it’s also $2.99—again, not much of a deal for 32 pages, especially when what’s presented here is mostly setup. This issue is part 1 of 4, which means that for 12 bucks, the reader gets a 120-page story.

Tiny Titans may not be great literature, but it’s the kind of thing that a kid who had never read comics before could pick up and enjoy right off the rack. Power Pack is attractive and well drawn, but it’s not very user-friendly for the reader who is new to superhero comics.

One Response to “Review: Tiny Titans vs. Power Pack”

  1. We buy both these comics for our daughters ages 6 and 4. Our 4 year old adore Tiny Titans, because of the short simple easy to follow stories, that are short on text , so that after a few readings she can “read” them to herself. Our 6 year old enjoys Tiny Titans too, but for more “geek” reasons, she likes seeing how the tiny titans are kidfied, always noticing details like, Wonder Girl’s jump rope lasso and such, always comparing them to versions of the Titans she is more familiar with like those from Teen Titans: Year One and Teen Titans: Go! She however devours and adores the Power Pack.

    Power Pack is packaged into 4 issue mini-series, so while there is a new #1 every 4 issues, you are right to point out that it doesn’t read like issue 1 of a comic. It is truly more like issue 29, since they have been telling one consistent continuing story of the Power Pack since their first mini-series in 2005. As a parent it has been a lot of fun to watch my daughter love these comics and the characters. Having read and re-read the issues, she know their story inside and out, and could easily follow all the story in the issue, even when they played with the narrative, by having the story change in tone depending on who was narrating.

    This particular issue might not be” very user- friendly” but the the initial series “Power Pack” and the team ups with the X-Men sure were.

    My daughter has gotten to know a lot of Marvel U, because of Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie’s interactions with the X-men, Avengers, Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four and iron Man. Frankly I prefer almost every single Power Pack Universe character to those in the regular Marvel U.

    In the end I think Power Pack is a great book, and I hope that there is room for different kind of kid books in the market. Tiny Titans with its sight gags and humor and Power Pack with its relational and plot driven format. I also hope with its increasing sales for the single issues in addition to its existing digest sales, Marvel will continue to put out this quality book for a long time to come, especially since it is giving Collen Coover’s art (the artist of the educational back up feature at the back of Power Pack) another outlet. I also value that the Power Pack is a deeply girl friendly book that isn’t girly.

    Thank you for your reviews

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