There’s one line of dialogue in Teen Titans Academy #12 that you can take as the TLDR version of this review
This comic is a mess. It’s being cancelled in May, but if this were the last issue it’d be a mercy killing. We have had a few good issues, concentrating on the better new characters, such as Stitch, Gorilla Gregg, Alinta, Summer and the Bat Pack
Actually, I used the phrase ‘such as’, but that’s it. The rest of the cast are basically random, even if they’re lucky enough to be named and have a power attributed to them, they’re not developed. So the revelation this issue that mystery person Red X, who’s been popping in and out of the Academy causing trouble, is really…
… doesn’t exactly excite. Brick… Brick… I remember he was around in the first few issues and there was some mystery around his powers. Or maybe not. This series has been so woolly that it’s tough to recall what’s been going on. It’s replete with elements that don’t make sense, go unexplained or serve the cast badly.
There’s the basic idea of the Roy Harper Academy – why did the New Titans suddenly decide to set up a school? How did they get accreditation? Why would any parents send their kids to stay with a group of metahumans who have constantly seen members die? Who would want to live in a tower that’s shaped like ‘T’ for ‘target’.
There’s the link to the Future State ‘event’ issues that makes remembering what happened to who in which timeline a pain.
And the sidelining of the previous Titans group, kids such as Crush, Roundhouse and Djinn, who were nicely developed before this book shoved them into a corner of the lunch room.
Plus the appalling treatment of veteran heroes Nightwing, Donna Troy, Starfire, Cyborg and Beast Boy, who are wrongfooted at every turn by Red X and made to look criminally negligent when it comes to ensuring the safety of their charges.
And of course, Red X, the big mystery of the whole series. Who is the new Red X? Who? WHO!
New? I didn’t know there was an one before this run. He’d never appeared in DC Comics continuity. Apparently Red X was a character in some Teen Titans TV cartoon whose story has been imported into the modern DC Universe off-panel. Last issue’s cover promised we’d find out who the new guy – the fourth, we’re told – was. We didn’t, which points to some serious changes having been made to that issue. Maybe they continued into this issue, because it’s dizzyingly confusing at times.
So, last time, the Academy/Titans Tower was blown up after a battle involving a student who, despite going by Nevermore and being linked to a hell dimension, wasn’t related to Raven. This issue begins with everyone fleeing said falling tower.
The chap with the big purple arm is Bunker, from two Titans teams back. He isn’t named, he doesn’t do anything and he vanishes after appearing in one more panel a page or so later.
The senior Titans take charge. Well, that’s the idea.
Red X makes the scene.
Poor Mark and Joely… anyone know who they were? We didn’t see them die last issue, or this issue. I’m very sad for them.
We do, though, see that ‘Coach Cyborg’ and ‘Mr Changeling’ are indeed in a pickle.
And there’s more. Red X IV was being run by Red X 2!!!
I honestly don’t know how I’m surviving all these shocks. Red X 2 gives us the full Basil Exposition, explaining why he placed Red X IV into the academy, including a ludicrous lie he told Brick.
Maybe it’s Darth Vader?
Although “Dick ‘n’ Brick” does have a nice ring to it, it’s hard to care who Dad is when we never knew Brick’s parenthood was a thing, I’m more interested in learning who it is answering a question from Starfire.
The reasonable expectation is that the page turn will reveal a surprise player, taunting Dick. That doesn’t happen. I guess the word balloon pointer was meant to be aiming at Nightwing.
And check out that previous panel. Dick swearing at two of the women who mean the most to him – it just wouldn’t happen, if there’s one thing Dick has, it’s poise.
Dick then goes off to team up with some unnamed person to take down Red X 2, shocking Starfire to her solar core.
Not HIM! Well, Deathstroke is someone the Titans have worked with plenty of times under extreme circumstances, and editing seems to have been a casualty of the Academy’s destruction, so I’m betting it’s Slade Wilson.
Starfire soon cheers up, and gives the grieving kids a speech/recreates a Coke ad.
‘Absolutely the right thing…’ Er, who’s she quoting. Or is the Mystery Ventriloquist still around?
Seriously, three kids under the care of Academy headmistress ‘Ms Starfire’ are dead (I’ve left one as a surprise), two Titans are at least seriously injured, Nightwing’s flounced off with murder in mind, the school is no more, there’s a killer on the loose, but hey, Titans Together!
It’s a truism that no one sets out to make a bad comic, but that’s what we have here. Despite the thoroughly decent art of DC stalwart Tom Derenick, the colours of Alex Sinclair and letters of Rob Leigh, this is a terrible comic. Writer Tim Sheridan comes from the world of TV, he’s written lots of DC animation stuff; I wonder if Teen Titans Academy was originally a feature-length cartoon that went unmade, and was repurposed as a comic book. If so, far too little attention has been paid to the needs of monthly comic readers. This isn’t a 90-minute film, in which there’s no need to introduce folk or plot points more than once, it’s a story delivered in monthly chunks.
Sheridan shouldn’t waste two pages on an unidentifiable Red X, or maybe Deathstroke, staring at a lot of rubble, he should use it to clarify the story and characters. A précis, a roll call, there are plenty of storytelling tools available.
And is editor Chris Rosa so under the cosh they can’t tidy things up?
I’m going on. Lord, am I going on. All these words for a comic that took five minutes to read, and dislike. If you’ve read it – and especially if you thought better of it than did I – I’d love to hear your thoughts.