If you don't know what Tsum Tsum are, you likely haven't spent much time in toy stores recently. The stackable oblong toys have become a full-on craze, complete with everything from large plush figures to tiny plastic ones representing everyone's favorite Disney characters. Of course, where Disney goes, Marvel Comics follows.
Similar to Marvel's handling of the various Star Wars comics amid the renewed interest in the films and characters that The Force Awakens stirred, Marvel is now getting in on the Tsum Tsum craze. Marvel Tsum Tsum #1 introduces the stackable oblong sensations to the Marvel Universe in style, and oddly enough the story that they've crafted works really well as a Marvel story.
Given that the comic centers around little plush pill-shaped creatures, writer Jacob Chabot and artist David Baldeon bring to life a story that covers a surprisingly large amount of the Marvel comic universe. Not only do fan favorites like the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers appear, but there's also some name-dropping of other powerful Marvel characters whose inclusion in the narrative makes a lot of sense. Once the Tsum Tsums kick into high gear and we start to see how they come to look like Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the character who had the most interest in them early on really starts to make a lot of sense.
Perhaps the best part of the comic, though, is the way that it manages its perspective. The main human characters of the story are children, which makes sense given the target audience of the Tsum Tsum toys; just ordinary kids, living in an extraordinary world where Iron Man, Thor and various other heroes can fly by at a moment's notice. The Avengers take on one of their greatest enemies, but the fight is largely in the background; the story is about the children and the Tsum Tsums, so we see the battle from the perspective of a child who really wants to add a picture of Iron Man to his superhero photo collection.
The comic has somewhat of a Howard the Duck feel to it, in that it's obviously much lighter fare than typical Marvel stories but it's still grounded in the same universe. Future issues will almost certainly have a number of cameos from well-known and lesser-known characters, a balance that should serve it well as the Tsum Tsums encounter more of the Marvel universe. The comic skews toward younger audiences, but even older Tsum Tsum fans should find it an enjoyable read.
Some might argue that the Tsum Tsum craze doesn't make sense in the context of the Marvel Comics universe, but the way that they are handled in the comic really does work pretty well. The comic explains their origin (to an extent), why they would look like established characters within the universe and even shows off their stackability... all within a story that doesn't seem out of place in a world with a talking duck and a hero named Squirrel Girl. We might get more information on their exact origins within the Marvel universe in upcoming issues, of course, especially if their presence on Earth draws the attention of the one who originally wanted to add them to his collection.
Marvel Tsum Tsum #1 is on sale now.