Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1 review

Here’s a different kind of summer annual, A batch of short stories giving us a closer look at some of the new students being trained by the classic Titans, framed as a high school yearbook.

The cover is presumably emulating a yearbook – I dunno, I’ve never seen one here in the UK – with a collage of individual images too small and indistinct to make an impact. It’s not likely to be voted Most Popular any time soon. Inside, things are better, with a faux credits page followed by a spotlight on Stitch, one of the new kids to have already made an impression. If you’ve not come across Stitch, here’s their deal.

Obviously, they’re connected to veteran DC hero Ragman, right? Not quite, and here we see their mentor drop into Titans Academy. We also see what Stitch wants to be when they grow up in a brilliant spread from writer Tim Sheridan, artist Bernard Chang, colourist Marcelo Maiolo and letterer Rob Leigh. A fight in the gym gives Stitch a chance to impress the student body while demonstrating, yet again, that ‘light touch’ doesn’t begin to cover the adult Titans’ approach to teaching. They’re never around!

All in all, ‘Stitch, in time’ is a cracking little tale, with humour, action and even poignancy.

Next up, a couple of pages on the ‘Titans Overlords’, which is pretty dull bar a sweet tribute to the man for whom the Roy Harper Academy is named.

Raven and Beast Boy a couple? That’s how it is on TV, but when has it been a thing in the comics? Well, it is now, as underlined by our next story, ‘Five More Minutes’, in which Garfield and (ugh) ‘Rae’ are having some private time… in a roomful of people.

It’s a decent character piece, again by Sheridan, with Leigh letters, while Marco Santucci provides the smooth visuals and Michael Atiyeh the colours. If you’re wondering why Raven is sad, it’s because Raven has been having visions of DOOM. Which basically means it’s Tuesday.

A couple of pages of repurposed panels from issues of the regular series make up the single page features Candid Campus (clever title!) and Class Superlatives, but rather than being told Brick Pettirosso has the ‘best hair’, how about a mini-story featuring the mysterious student? I mean, Pettirosso? Is he the son of Lana Lang and Pete Ross from Earth Italy?

Sheridan and Leigh are joined by illustrator Darko (usually David) Lafuente and colourist Miquel Muerto for ‘Mothers, Brothers, Kittens and Cake’, my favourite story after the Stitch starrer. It’s a nice, straightforward tale of new kids Tooby and Matt becoming friends, full of warmth. While we already knew Toobey’s super power is to turn his body into, well, a tube, the story shows us more of what Matt can do, as well as introducing Toobey’s parents and revealing his given forename.

There’s more to learn about both kids, but it’s nice to get something new, and Tooby’s folks seem lovely. The script is smart, the art is sharp… it’s a great wee tale.

A fun page of yearbook sponsorship ads…

… and a generic page of ‘photos’ defaced by a big red X are followed by the annual’s most serious offering, ‘Extrication‘, which gives us some background on the Red X character who’s been popping up around Titans Academy. Set nine years ago, it has a previous Red X stamping down on a fostering scam.

Yeesh, I know the Comics Code Authority is long dead, but how the heck did that line about feeding the guy’s ‘manhood’ to his daughter make it into print? Sheridan and Leigh are teamed with regular series artists Rafa Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona and colourist Alex Sinclair for a gritty urban drama. The abused, neglected kids, as drawn by Sandoval and Tarragona, are especially heartbreaking.

It’s good stuff, but with Red X having dominated every issue of Titans Academy since it stated four months ago, I’d have happily seen him set aside so some of the other kids could step forward.

Odd quibbles aside, I enjoyed this double-sized issue, for the variety of stories, the novel approach and the insight into the Academy kids.

13 thoughts on “Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1 review

  1. Oooh, so that’s what a Toobey does.

    You’re right about Red X. The mystery of his identity is far less intersting than the one of who all these kids are (what happened to roll calls?) and why they’ve been left in responsibility of a team that has a slightly lower death rate than the Green Lantern Corps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The best thing that could happen to this book would be for the classic Titans to go away and Mr Jupiter and Lilith come on board, along with a few actual teachers. Guy Gardner could handle gym class

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  2. Yeah, still not enticed by stories about the future cannon fodder of the DCU. If Young Justice can’t attract sales and Teen Titans is reduced to this, maybe it’s time to get creators with experience come up with an alternative or just retire the kid super hero team trope altogether.

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      1. The best run of Legion ever began when Levitz started writing them like young adults and not teens. Maybe that’s why the Archie Legion and the Threeboot never moved me as much. They were callow teens again.

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      2. I love ‘callow’. Callow youth and all that. I was unhappy at first that the whole continuity was going, but it had already been changed as of FYL LSH #4 or something. Having accepted that my team was gone, I found the Archie Legion pretty refreshing.

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  3. I think Beast Boy and Raven may be on the verge of a romantic thing in the YA Teen Titans series. A book called “Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven” is scheduled for Sep 28 release.

    But maybe that will turn out like the way Tiny Titan Beast Boy loved Terra – unrequited!

    I hadn’t seen him credited in a long time, but Michael Atiyeh has been getting a lot of DC assignments lately, and I can actually recognize his work. But I’m not a fan. It sends me back to the way a lot of DC books were colored in the mid-2000s. He gives everything a kind of bronzed glow, and since I’m not an artist I don’t know what he does that gives that impression – whether it’s the colors he selects or how he shades with them. The green/yellow shades he puts on Beast Boy’s face are kind of sickening. But everything he does is like that – he puts weird colors on Raven’s face too. Maybe it’s the lighting effects he creates with the shades, like people’s faces are strangely and overly shadowed. So this Beast Boy/Raven story just looks radically different from the stories that preceded and follow it, though the last story, colored by Sinclair, does resemble Atiyeh a bit. (Atiyeh isn’t credited on the cover – DC has been making a lot of little oversights like that lately.)

    Making progress with Red X slowly but surely. It’s the second Red X who is featured, and evidently he’s the one who hands the new Red X the mask on the boat. Maybe this will be turned into a maxi-series, and issue #12 will finally reveal the identity of Red X and explain his power set, and that will be the end of this book.

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    1. Verrrrry interrrrresting. I like Michael Atiyeh’s work, he seems a very sympathetic colourist. Are you reading physical copies, perhaps the result is different. His shading of Beast Boy looks good to me. Of course, if we had the traditional penciller/inker team, the colourist wouldn’t have to be doing the modelling.

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      1. I see the same effect in print and digital, so I guess it’ll just be something between me and Michael :).

        I actually do prefer it when the shading is done by the colorist.

        Read a very long interview once with Stuart Immonen where he talked about his crosshatching, and somehow I just found that interview so I can quote him accurately.

        http:// www . tcj . com/fighting-characters-are-just-dynamic-geometry-the-stuart-immonen-comics-journal-interview/

        “…at some point at a convention appearance around that time – 2014, 2015 – someone approached me and told me that they recognized an unsigned work of mine “because of the crosshatching” and I knew in that moment that I had to curb what had clearly become an affectation.

        “There were naturally critics of the change – people who thought it lacked detail in comparison. Any artist will tell you that it’s much harder to draw something with fewer lines to hide behind.”

        Interesting.

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      2. I like that artists are recognisable by their stylistic tics! When done well, a colourist can make the difference, but colourists who aren’t trained in anatomy are less likely to pull it off than, say, an all-rounder like a Kubert brother. So many times I’ve been annoyed by random blotches of colour on skin, or blobs on hair. Not everyone is an Alex Toth, who can tell a story in just a few lines. Give me an inker and colourist any day of the week.

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