Teen Titans Academy #13 review

Every comic is somebody’s first, so be reader friendly, goes the truism. It’s not a rule writer Tim Sheridan pays attention to… as with most issues, he doesn’t introduce his cast. Not really. A few names are dropped, but if you’ve not been making notes, good luck working out who all the Titans Academy students are. This chapter of Sheridan’s neverending Red X story also serves as part of the War For Earth 3 crossover, giving him a whole new batch of characters to not properly introduce.

Sheridan does provide a line or two of context about the storyline, with Rick Flag mentioning that Amanda Waller is invading Earth 3, but it’s not much, and it’s a long time coming. Most of this issue is the Titans Academy students and staff hanging around their new safe house – Titans Tower having been blown up (take a drink) – and worrying about the ever-troublesome Red X.

Because despite the massive array of powers and decades of experience on the part of Nightwing, Raven, Donna Troy, Arsenal and the Flash, they can’t find the mystery man (my guess is former Titan Danny Chase, teen telekinetic turned teleporting Phantasm). Oh, and Tempest – onetime Aqualad, now massively powerful sorcerer – appears in one panel.

As the lunch lady.

Ye, and indeed, gods.

While some kids eat, others are having a secret meeting in the basement.

Once again, the senior Titans are doing a truly terrible job of keeping an eye on their young charges, and by the end of the issue things are even more ridiculous on that front.

At Star Labs, Raven is accepting an offer from students Gorilla Gregg and Cybruh (no idea, I’ve only read every issue) on behalf of the stricken Changeling and Cyborg.

Meanwhile, erstwhile Suicide Squad leader Rick Flag and his recruits Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, Bloodsport and, I think, an alternate world Harley Quinn, break into the supposed safe house – it’s all done with mirrors.

Never mind ‘lying around’, I can’t believe the Titans have all that stuff at all… when have the heroes habitually gone into battle wielding such terrifying weapons?

Anyway, Starfire and Nightwing show up and join the fray.

Does anyone understand what’s happening? Dick is pulling his punches? Against a known killer who’s broken into the building? There’s nothing to set up the exchange with Starfire.

Wally shows up with Rick Flag and, er, Harley Twin?

You may recall that last week, in his own book – that would be the previous chapter of this very crossover – Wally met Mirror Master. Well, he doesn’t. There’s no mention at all. There’s not even the excuse that different editors are handling the books, as all four parts have come from the desks of Chris Rosa and Paul Kaminski.

I thought last issue was bad, but this one may be worse. More stupid characterisations (why is Wally a grinning loon?), missing story beats (the Titans know probably a dozen super-scientists, and they’re trusting the lives of Gar and Vic to a couple of students?), random nonsense (why does Stitch refer to Donna Troy as the ‘Dragon Lady’?) and misplaced humour (as well as the Tempest business – a nod to Darkseid as the Tiny Titans dinner lady? – there’s Donna quoting Batman 66 as she revs up the T-jet).

Let’s find some positives. The art by Tom Derenick is mostly pretty solid. I really like his Donna, Starfire and Arsenal, and the kids have some nice facial expressions. Mind, the old Titans are a tad over dramatic in that reaction shot above. The colours by Pete Pantazis and Matt Herms are fine, and Rob Leigh’s letters are as spiffy as ever. There’s a nicely drawn random dog on the opening page.

There you go. Positives.

As for the cover, as with last week’s Flash it’s not exactly relevant to the issue at hand. Looking at the other covers for this crossover, it seems artist Rafa Sandoval and colourist Alex Sinclair are doing one big image…maybe it’ll be a pullout extra in a collected edition.

I feel I should apologise for such a negative post, but these comics aren’t cheap. This crossover should be a lot better and that needs calling out.

Is it me? Is the War For Earth 3 working for anyone?

8 thoughts on “Teen Titans Academy #13 review

  1. No idea who is enjoying this crossover, but trying to figure out what’s happening is like getting a head injury.

    Cybruh is apparently from Earth-12. When I have no idea, possibly in a different crossover?
    Dick is pulling his punches because he doesn’t want Digger to make boomerang puns …that knock him out? Maybe a joke.
    Think that’s just the Squad’s Harley pretending to be from an alt-Earth. Guess that’s the other joke.

    Derenick’s art seems very influenced by Darick Robertson which explains his character’s expressiveness. Will be interesting to see how he grows.

    No need to be apologetic for this review, it’s remarkably kind. For me this book’s writing is now characterized both by the lack of names couple with awkwardly spelling out of actions and events.
    It’s quite one thing to expect the reader being intelligent enough not to need spoonfeeding a story & another to sneer at them for not figuring out your crayon-scrawled cryptic crossword.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that idea of Harley being regular Harley… I’m not convinced the book is that clever!

      The Darick Robertson comparison is interesting, mind, they’ve both been in comics since the very early Nineties.

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  2. I think Sheridan expected to just write 12 issues and agreed to “write” a few more. The early promos for this War-3 event indicated that Robbie Thompson and Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum would be writing the whole event.

    Apparently Cybruh is brand new, and that’s probably an alt Harley – but who knows?!

    It was nice to see Wallace and Emiko again, even if they are apparently having a quarrel. (Remember, they are a couple!)

    I was surprised you didn’t complain about Wally ridiculously workshopping nicknames for Wallace – Wall, Lacey, Wa-Wa, Wallsy, Al.

    These covers do connect across the event, but with a few characters from each cover replicated in miniature in the right bottom corner of the prior cover. I haven’t seen that approach before. Intended or not, it gives the impression that the additional characters are actually inside.

    DC does a poor job promoting their connecting covers – this set connects across titles of the event. Most connecting covers connect across variants. “Trial of the Amazons: Wonder Girl” connects across issues #1 and #2 of that mini, which are part 4 and part 6 of the overall Trial of the Amazons event. The solicits usually, but don’t always, manage to mention when there are connecting covers, but never identify what actually connects to what – so if the connection is to some other title, or to some other month, it’s up to buyers to figure that out – if that sort of thing interests them. I suppose it’s just bad promotion, but could be their goal is to make it a bit of a challenge.

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    1. I apologise profusely for not picking up on the Wallace nickname business, it does indeed make no sense given Wally has know Wallace all the latter’s like. That’s just so Tim Sheridan.

      Sheridan stopping at 12 issues makes sense in the sense that last issue’s end read like a final issue, but no sense in that he left so much nonsense.

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      1. He’s listed as co-writer of the Flashpoint Beyond mini-series – which was just delayed, and now will be monthly instead of the originally planned twice-monthly. I assume the delay is because Geoff Johns is the main creator, and but I already assumed I would not like it because Sheridan is involved, and in any event it’s pointless because it’s a dystopian alt universe. I’m not planning to buy it unless fandom raves about it.

        Sheridan has also announced his DC writing has finished up, and he’s now producing 3 TV series. He’s one of the several TV writers DC picked up at the same time that, during their staffing purge, they dropped a bunch of writers and artists and cut down on exclusive contracts. They all debuted with Future State.

        The thing with TV writers is that I haven’t seen that they can write good comics, and isn’t it an insult to professional comic writers when TV writers get assignments instead of them?

        A TV script can be made to work through artful acting, cinematography and editing, so while in a comic you can draw things that would be too expensive or impossible to put on screen – you have an “unlimited special effects budget” – you can’t convey subtle jokes easily, and you don’t even have the space for that much dialog. You don’t have genuine camera movement. Some inexperienced writers include things that no artist can actually illustrate, which can make certain story beats baffling.

        Speaking of staffing at DC, I have a theory about why so many books now are being draw by multiple artists. Bleeding Cool claimed to have heard that DC dropped its page rates for artists. (They had always paid more than Marvel, and most DC books simply look better. They either had better artists, or the artists had more time, being paid better.) But now we have this weird phenomena for the first time where a huge number of DC books require 1, 2 or 3 artists for a single story. What is going on? My theory is that DC really is paying much less, and artists have to have other jobs to make ends meet, so that many of them have to be squeezing in a few pages for DC in-between their more highly paying work for other comics, for other media (advertising, story boarding) or for creator-owned projects.

        I guess it’s also possible that it’s as simple as scripts being so late so often these days that extra artists are needed to meet the schedule. That would be costly for DC, because artists sign up well in advance to draw issues or arcs. They have to make room in their schedules. If a script is late, it would be bad faith for DC to just pay an artist for 5 or 10 pages, representing 1 or 2 weeks of their work, leaving the artist sitting on their hands the rest of the time, earning nothing. So I think if late scripts are the cause of this phenomenon, DC must still be paying the main artist for the originally agreed-upon 22 pages, and then scrambling to find any additional artists who are free to help out with whatever pages the main artist has no time for, and paying that extra artist the standard rate per page. So the artwork ends up costing them much more.

        Perhaps there are other theories. Who knows? No one is talking.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the wonderfully insightful post. I can’t say I’m sad to heard Tim Sheridan has gone back to TV, he really has failed to consider how comic scripts work. His Titans Academy reads like a sizzle reel.

        I hadn’t heard the theory about artists; I don’t quite get how that would translate to multiple artists on a single issue… are you saying they can’t afford to work on an entire comic book?

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  3. That’s my hypothesis. Either they can’t afford it, or they don’t want to because they can make better money, or make wiser investments in their futures, through other avenues. Look at how much creator-owned work is happening now – substack, but also more traditional creator-owned. So many of the best writers and artists are focusing on that. They are mostly keeping one foot in the traditional business, though – maybe to maintain their name recognition and accrue new fans, or to keep one foot in the door and good relations with editors and talent relations in case their creator-owned investments don’t pay off. One foot could mean a few pages.

    I don’t think Marvel is plagued by this multi-artist problem – in fact, as far as I can see, they aren’t even touched by it. I haven’t noticed a single Marvel book, except for their rare anthologies, drawn by multiple artists. What could account for such a huge difference? Maybe Marvel’s contracts generally forbid it? Maybe they are paying more than DC these days?

    Have you noticed that at Marvel? Really this is a very recent phenomenon at DC, around a year old, following the staffing purges and the 5G mess and Future State, when DC really cleaned house, and brought in the current stable of writers. I wonder how well sales are for these writers? It’s harder to tell now, vs. when Diamond distributed everything and released detailed sales info. Now all the stat sites are collecting data by sampling stores, or drawing upon one of the big point-of-sales systems (ComicHub) which covers a subset of retailers.

    Bleeding Cool put out a relevant article today, about intellectual property.

    https: // bleedingcool . com/comics/supreme-court-delivers-blow-to-estate-of-steve-ditko-and-others/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apologies, I somehow missed this post last week. I’ve been reading the BC stories about people trying to reclaim copyrights they never had and they make my head spin. Don’t these heirs have jobs? They obviously don’t have self-respect, trying to leech off their forebears’ talent. I’m all for creators who made loads of dosh for DC/Marvel under the old work for hire contracts being well recompensed beyond their freelancer rates as an acknowledgment of their having helped build the companies, but their heirs? I’d tell them to bugger off.

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