Teen Titans Academy #2 review

It’s an all-action opening as wheelchair-using student Alinta is menaced by mystery person Red X.

Flashback to 72 hours earlier and while ‘Mr Cyborg’ is apparently supervising every class at the Roy Harper Academy’s Field Day, ‘Mr Nightwing’ and ‘Ms Starfire’ are chatting after some extracurricular activities.

Joining Cyborg, Nightwing shares his worries about one of the students, Matt, a powerhouse with massive memory gaps.

Leaving his old friend, Nightwing gives chase as he comes across an intruder in the Academy Command Centre… Red X.

Marcia, Marcia, Red X. Everyone at Teen Titans Academy is obsessed with Red X. Last issue’s cover was Red X. This issue’s cover is Red X. It’s excessive.

Who is this character who can make a chump of Nightwing, the best acrobat and third-best detective in the DC Universe? Does he or she have super-speed? Teleportation? The power to fog security cameras? A mind control mojo to explain why only Nightwing seems to be taking a masked intruder’s skulking around even vaguely seriously?

Why isn’t the Academy in lockdown while seven extremely experienced superheroes find out who’s breaking into their new HQ and what threat they may pose to their young, inexperienced charges?

Writer Tim Sheridan really needs to explain why Red X is such a big deal. I suppose the character made an impression on Sheridan when he was a kid watching Teen Titans telly cartoons, but if he’s going to import him into the comics, at least give us relative newbies some history to provide context.

Last time I really liked how Sheridan juggled his large cast; this time, apart from the old guard, it’s basically the Alinta and Matt Show, with cameos from Stitch and Tooby. I supposed there’s some sense in sharing the spotlight around, but I was hoping for movement on likely team traitor Brick, and some time with Jakeem Thunder, who got very short shrift in #1.

Still, the Matt business wasn’t bad – every team needs a character with a mystery past – and I like Oz-gal Alinta, who gets her hero name, Bolt, this time, along with a sinister phone-a-friend. Mind, both characters beg the question: did headmistress Starfire and friends do any background research into these kids?

I still hate the Dick and Kory ‘Titans with benefits’ bit. They’d moved on… happily, it seems that the new Nightwing series is nipping this story strand in the bud.

A big positive is that Cyborg’s traditional angst has gone – it’s about time he decided to go the glass half-full route and find the funny in life. And there’s some nice background business with Beast Boy to visually enliven the two-page chat between Nightwing and Cyborg.

The artistic team of penciller Rafa Sandoval and inker Jordi Tarragona do a good job of selling the scene, and they’re great at capturing the general hustle and bustle of the Academy. I love Dick’s cruise ship cabaret moment with the fire hose, too. The opening attack on Alinta is composed with useful dynamism. But the best visual moments are the two Red X splashes – I’m not invested in Red X as a character, but the design is sharp and used well in-story. The only real tweak needed to the art is to make character hair look natural, there’s a moulded plastic quality to hairdos.

Colourist Alejandro Sandoval keeps the characters distinct, but is likely as bored with the Academy’s uniformly grey backgrounds as I am – why have the Titans set up such a cold, clinical place? Rob Leigh’s lettering complements the art, with distinctive fonts for the likes of Cyborg and the stupendous Stitch.

That X-centric cover by Sandovala and Sanchez is a fun, cheeky composition, even if the only cast member I recognise is Gorilla Greg.

While I enjoyed the debut issue more, Teen Titans Academy #2 is a decent read – I just hope the Red X business is wrapped up soon.

11 thoughts on “Teen Titans Academy #2 review

  1. Skipping this one too, mainly because of Future State connections. Add in the last TT run left me with a sour taste and if I’m gonna read a hero school book, Strange academy has a better creative pedigree. In fact, the only DC books that caught my interest were Batman – Superman and Inferior 5. BTW, if you review I5, let us know if it made any sense at all to you. I read all six issues and nothing in the book came together for me.

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    1. I read all six issues too, and was looking forward to reviewing the last issue, but I see no point, having read it – Giffen and Seeley have known for a year of something that they’d lost half the planned run, when it was cut from 12 to 6 issues, and this is the best they could give us? Meta-ramblings about being cut off in their prime? I quite liked #5 and was intrigued when, supposedly, Awkwardman showed up, but nothing was done, it wasn’t clear what happened with the kids we’d been following and… gah! We have had better ‘Five Years Later’ from Giffen. And while Kolins did a great job stepping in for the final stretch, I was really enjoying seeing Giffen draw again.

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  2. I would agree that there’s something wonky about the way Sandoval does hair… but I like it. It distinguishes his art from other dudes. What I’m really curious about is why Alinta’s hair looks like it’s octopus tentacles in some panels. Is she from under the sea? Is this something we knew already or it’s just one of the little mysteries that we’ll learn more about in the coming months?
    Also… does Alinta really wanna take on the code name Bolt? That’s the name of an established bad guy isn’t it?
    Count me in as someone who’s loving the Dick/Kory shenanigans… he can play goo goo eyes with Babs in his own book. In a Titans book, I like my Nightwing smooching around with Starfire.
    But I’m in total agreement about Red X. Spell out why the dude is such a big deal. Not all of us have watched the cartoons (or if we did, we were far more interested in the other characters and stories being told… Red X was fairly minor, I think. From what I remember.)

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    1. I think the hair are supposed to be Rastafarian braids, but you’d likely have recognised them were that the case. I’d love it were they octopus tentacles. Kid Topo!

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      1. Go back and take a look. There are *definitely* some panels where her dreads have a tentacle pattern on them. I’m very curious. Kid Topo, indeed! I’d be all for that!

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  3. I guess in the front row of the cover I see Summer Zahid (based on her clothes), and maybe that’s the Bratgirl all the way on the left (looks like her hair color).

    But speaking of Summer, that reminds me of a confusion I’ve had since last month’s issue: Miguel Montez is in the class. That’s the Dial H for Hero guy, whose best friend was — “Summer.” Is that this Summer? I don’t think so. That Summer was named Summer Pickens (according to Wikipedia), and she didn’t have powers. So I don’t know why we have another Summer.

    Apparently Bolt winds up in the Future State: Suicide Squad that our Amanda Waller takes with her to Earth-3, and probably ends up dying when Mirror Master blows up near her. (That’s not made clear, so I’m assuming the worst.) I expect she will be moving to Suicide Squad very soon, because that team has no women except Waller, and needs some. Teen Titans has more than enough women. It has a Bratgirl and an indeterminate number of Summers, along with Emiko and Crush (they are still there, for no reason) and Donna, Raven and Starfire, among others.

    It is much too soon for a crossover, but these won’t be the first in the new era that started in March. DC has already done at least 2 crossovers that I can think of: the first Superman/Action main story, and the Robin backup that ran across Batman and Detective. All of those are $4.99 books, so a Teen Titans/Suicide Squad crossover, which are regular-sized books, comes at a bargain price!

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    1. Oh, great spot on Miguel, I hadn’t even noticed him, but that’s his sweatshirt. And face, too. Summer here debuted in the Teen Titans Endless Winter special, I reviewed that (and Bolt’s Suicide Squad entrance too). She has ice abilities. I wonder where Miguel’s Summer is.

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      1. I would never have recognized him – he introduced himself to Billy Batson in Teen Titans Academy #1. And in Future State: Teen Titans #2, his name is on one of the marked graves, and he’s spoken of fondly.

        I forgot all about Summer’s introduction in Endless Winter.

        By the way, it should not be allowed to go without being remarked upon: I liked your “excessive” pun.

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