Comics review: Tiny Titans #32, Super Hero Squad #9, Life With Archie #2

Tiny Titans #32 coverTiny Titans #32
Written by: Art Baltazar and Franco
Art by: Art Baltazar

This month’s “Titans” was, as usual, a pretty fun affair. This issue features Darkseid’s son, Kalibak, enrolling at the Titans’ school, and somehow managing to win over the faculty despite displaying an IQ and manners on par with Match (Superboy’s Bizarro-clone). Hijinks (and a funny twist ending) ensue. Of course, it helps that here, the faculty consists of characters like Darkseid (the lunchlady, who’s proud of his kid “making friends on his first day at school”), Principal Slade, Dr. Light, Coach Lobo, and teacher Trigon, all villains in the regular DCU. Though in “Tiny Titans,” they all behave in a civilized manner, with the school and its staff similar to Acme Looniversity and its teachers—Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, etc.—in “Tiny Toon Adventures.”

Also making me laugh was the first mini-story’s title, “Bringin’ Kali-Bak.” Nice pun.

There’s also an ad in this issue promoting next month’s opening issue of the Tiny Titans/Little Archie crossover, which should be fun. Not sure about it being the “crossover of the new millennium” as the headline claims, but a bit of hyperbole’s always a part of such crossovers. I also wonder if it’ll top the *last* millennium’s crossover of Archie meeting the Punisher…

Super Hero Squad #9
Written by: Todd Dezago (all stories)
Art by: Marcelo Dichiara (first story), Dario Brizuela (second and third stories)

A mixed batch of stories are seen in this issue. The first story seems to address the lack of female characters seen in the parent TV show by having the “Squadettes” show up. The Squadettes are an all-female team consisting of the Wasp (who can fly with wasp-like wings), She-Hulk (the Hulk’s cousin, same powers), and Tigra (who has tiger-like abilities/appearance). They challenge their male counterparts to a friendly contest to find as many fractals as possible in a day, but the contest goes awry when the villains get wind of what’s happening. Another Marvel heroine also shows up along the way.

Nice that this story makes use of Marvel’s female characters, though wonder if the “let’s go shopping” bit toward the end of the story was a bit stereotypical. From what I’ve read, the TV show’s next season (which I assume debuts sometime soon) also plans on adding a few more female characters to the Squad, with the Scarlet Witch (Magneto’s daughter, a mutant with “hex powers”) coming on board.

The second story, an eating contest between the Thing and the Hulk, didn’t do much for me, though is clearly aimed at the kid target audience of the book. The third story, a short piece with Dr. Doom and his minions hanging out, was much better. Wonder if Super Hero City’s bowling alleys have insurance against “metahuman damage”…

Next issue’s a Halloween story featuring Man-Thing, Marvel’s long-running swamp creature (akin to DC’s Swamp Thing).

Life With Archie #2 coverLife With Archie #2
Written by: Paul Kupperburg
Art by: Norm Breyfogle

While I thought this issue wouldn’t hit newsstands until next week (my local comic shop doesn’t carry Archie titles for the most part), I found it at Barnes and Noble earlier today.

The first story, set in the Veronica future, sees Mr. Lodge conducting more secretive plans to own most of the land in town for his own benefit (read: wealth). Apparently Mr. Lodge is taking cues from fellow billionaire Mr. Burns, given here his desire for more wealth seems much stronger (and with more dubious motivations) than it is in the regular Archie universe. Meanwhile, Moose (aka “Duke”) gives the first press conference for his mayoral campaign, which given he’s, well, Moose, doesn’t go as well as planned. One oddity—Reggie’s father is at the press conference as a reporter, even though in most of the regular Archie stories, he’s the *owner* of a newspaper in Riverdale (and the reason why Reggie comes from a slightly wealthier background than his rival Archie).

Chuck and Nancy get a scene as well, playing into how lousy the outlook for owning a comic book shop is these days, as well as the difficulty in breaking into the comics field as a writer/artist. Meanwhile, Betty seems to be ignored by the rest of the characters, leaving her to decide to do something drastic.

The second story, set in the Betty future, also features Mr. Lodge in, well, “evil” mode. Mr. Lodge’s motive here seems driven more out of revenge than merely thinking of his company’s and daughter’s futures. Somewhat out of character versus the regular continuity; while Hiram doesn’t like Archie there either, he doesn’t go after Fred and Mary Andrews over his antics, or do much more than throw Archie out of his house/yell at Archie. Still, I want to see where this subplot goes in future stories.

Meanwhile, things heat up between the dating members of Riverdale High’s faculty. Apparently, school janitor Svenson’s pseudo-Swedish accent’s lessened in the future (occasional “by yimminy” aside). There’s also more of Ambrose, Archie’s now-adult friend from the “Little Archie” series, with the story setting things up for more interaction between the two next issue. As for Betty, she’s overworked and has to deal with budget cuts at her workplace, something I certainly can relate to.

The issue also contains more of the teen-magazine-style filler pages, including blurbs about various celebrities who grew up with or still read Archie comics. Said celebrities include Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor and a Bollywood actress named Asin; the latter ties into Archie comics being popular in India. They also make mention of “Family Guy” having mentioned Archie a few times. While the goal of this series (and Archie Comics’ actions of late) is to show the Archie characters in a more contemporary light, it still seems odd to see a not-family-friendly series like “Family Guy” get mentioned by Archie, though that might be my dislike of “Family Guy” talking. Finally, there’s a one-page “back to school” article with the usual teenaged Jughead giving back-to-school “advice.”

The artwork, like in the first issue, looks fine. Everyone looks like adult versions of themselves, though their parents don’t seem to have aged as much.

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