Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #4
Written by Art Baltazar and Franco
Illustrated by Art Baltazar

You need to look at this squid.

Topo

He’s a friend.

If that’s not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, you need to stop reading this review right now, go back and look at it for awhile, and come back when you think it’s adorable. Because it is. I’ll wait.

Are we on the same page? Good. If not… whatever, I’ve wasted enough time. Let’s get this ball rolling.

Formula can be a good thing, and it can also be bad. That’s why I don’t like watching police procedural shows like NCIS or whatever, but I do love getting in the same bed every night and going to sleep. One is boring, the other comforting. For all the formula Tiny Titans has been following in its narrative structure and storytelling beats, it’s still an incredibly comforting read. It’s simple, nothing is particularly groundbreaking, but it’s still one of my favorite books.

Much like last month, which saw our heroes visiting the Rock of Eternity and encountering Shazam (the wizard) and Shazam Captain Marvel, we’re taken to another locale that I honestly don’t have a lot of experience with: Atlantis. Now, I’m not one of those people who makes incredibly tired “Aquaman sucks!” jokes, but I’m still not a huge fan of the character. He’s a staple of the League, and there’s a lot of great storytelling potential in a man who rules over a kingdom that covers the majority of the planet, but nothing’s ever hooked me.

And then Batman: The Brave and the Bold happened. Here’s another one to drive the point home.

Now, is that the “perfect portrayal of Aquaman?” Certainly not. It wouldn’t work in the New-52 universe, nor in the Pre-New-52-That-I-Hope-Eventually-Returns-To-Reveal-Current-Continuity-As-Some-Elaborate-Joke universe. But man, if he wasn’t fun. And to a slightly lesser degree, that’s how Aquaman is presented here: a two-fisted, swashbuckling adventurer who just happens to be a king, not a brooding, moody jerk nobody gets along with.

He only appears in a handful of panels, though, and the long and short of it is this: even though he and Shazam Captain Marvel have long, rich histories, they’re not nearly as well-known as Superman, whose issue was good but a little dull. Knowing this, I feel like Baltazar and Franco have more freedom to have some fun with the characters and concepts, throwing in little gags that seem fresh because people aren’t as familiar with these histories.

If you can’t tell, this issue finds Robin, Batgirl (as Barbara insists on being called), and Wonder Girl traveling to Atlantis to find a new treehouse.

It goes as well as you’d expect.

On the way, we’re presented with Topo, the Cutest Thing Ever, jokes about Lagoon Boy’s name, and Beast Boy and Miss Martian being grossed out by Offspring as a boat. Which is pretty understandable.

Oh, and a fun cameo from Commissioner Gordon. Who does a fist-bump with Batman. Living the dream, guys.

Even though they’re following a well-trod formula, the storytelling and gags are still great fun, as always. The only real problem I had was it just kind of… ends. I had to flip (err, swipe, since I have a digital copy) back and forth a few times, because I thought that maybe a page hadn’t loaded or I’d accidentally scrolled past it. It’s not a huge deal, but it was jarring.

Every month, I look forward to this book because it’s comforting. It’s like a warm blanket, or an old friendship that gets rekindled after a long time apart. This issue is no exception, and should be read by more people.

Even if it doesn’t have the KGBeast.

Recommended if:

Overall: Fast, fun, and appropriate for everyone, Tiny Titans continues to be one of the most refreshing books thanks to its simplicity.

SCORE: 9/10