Along with The Flash and Shazam series’ Tim Sheridan’s Teen Titans was the biggest disappointment out of the Future State direction. The story involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse just did not come together in the way Sheridan intended for it to go. But now with Infinite Frontier Sheridan has a new chance to develop the story he wants to tell, along with Rafa Sandoval, with the Teen Titans franchise. Even though the first impression I got from Sheridan’s writing of Teen Titans wasn’t the best I’m always willing to give a shot for a new run on this series. These are some of my favorite DC Comics’ characters so I hope that Sheridan can bring a new era for the franchise. Let’s find out with Teen Titans Academy #1.
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Outside Titans Tower, Nightwing, Starfire, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Bunker, Crush, Kid Flash (Wallace West), Red Arrow (Emiko Queen), and Roundhouse welcome the new students of the Roy Harper Titans Academy.
Inside Starfire gives the opening speech to the students that the entire faculty of the Roy Harper Titans Academy is there to help them all find success as superheroes in an ever-changing world.
Later, Nightwing takes the students for their first defense class (where he makes a Harry Potter joke that he gets called out by for being problematic). He then takes roll call where we get the names of the students: Sumer Zahid, Matt Price, Brick Pettirosso, Alinta, Tooby, Gorilla Gregg, and Stitch. The student named Dane arrives late.
As Nightwing goes over the holographic training the students will go through the program suddenly shows images of when Nightwing fought Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Raven as Red X. While he wonders who hacked the training program Nightwing decides to take the chance to demonstrate to the students some self-defense methods he plans on teaching them. Afterwards he tells the students that Red X is something that should stay dead.
Later during the lunch period all the students the freshman class all form their clicks as they get to know each other. From there we learn that the upper-classmen of the Academy are the current active roster of Teen Titans.
Above Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Kid Flash, Crush, Bunker, Jakeem Thunder, and Thunderbolt battle Clock King and his gang.
Back in the Titans Tower control room Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy watch the Teen Titans taking on Clock King’s gang. They all give the Teen Titans advice to maximize their teamwork, something Starfire compliments as the battle rages on.
In the training room Brick uses his energy powers to take on the Red X training program. Donna Troy appears and says that was an impressive showing. Brick reveals he still doesn’t have full control of his powers. Donna calls Brick out on missing their training session but offers to spar with him.
In the dormitories Tooby (who has shapeshifting powers) ends up being Roundhouse’s new roommate. Tooby and Roundhouse do not get along well in their first meeting.
Later, the students and staff all attend Nightwing’s birthday party. While everyone is having fun Nightwing questions Cyborg and Donna Troy on the Red X mask he mysteriously received as a gift (which we saw happen in Future State: Teen Titans #1). Donna convinces Nightwing to talk to the students about Red X.
Nightwing gets everyone’s attention. He talks about the significance Red X as an example of even what they believe to be small choices can snowball into bigger problems. He goes on to say that the reason the school exists is so the students can be set on the right path where they don’t forget who they are as he once did when he choose to become Red X for a time. Nightwing then calls an end of the night.
As everyone goes back to their dorms Nightwing finds Brick in the training room using his powers. Brick runs away as soon as he gets caught.
Nightwing and Starfire then talk about a date that they are now going to go on.
Elsewhere we see one of the students wearing a Red X mask punching a mirror. End of issue.
The Good: Teen Titans Academy #1 was all about setting the mission statement for this series. There wasn’t a giant end of the world conflict that was set up for the original Titans, current Teen Titans, or the students to worry about. It was all set-up and that is fine given the direction this series is taking.
Opening with Starfire’s speech to the incoming freshmen of the Roy Harper Titans Academy was a good way of using a typical thing we see with the introductions of a school setting. It allowed Tim Sheridan to give us an overview of what direction he intends to take as the veteran Titans are taking on mentor roles as the faculty for the Roy Harper Titans Academy. They are no longer simply another superhero team defending Earth. They are taking on what they’ve learned from their mentors and growing up together to help the next generation of heroes learn from their success and failures. Starfire’s speech set that up well while establishing her as one of the major voices in the faculty.
This speech help set the one for how the rest of Teen Titans Academy #1 direction. Establishing how the incoming freshmen aren’t the only students in the Roy Harper Titans Academy was important. We’ve seen since the New 52 that the Teen Titans have been all over the place with how its members have been developed. Taking a step back and having the Rebirth version of the Teen Titans be the senior class was the right move. It gives Kid Flash, Red Arrow, Crush, Bunker, Roundhouse, Jakeem Thunder, and Thunderbolt room to grow under the senior Titans while still commanding respect as they are the current field. Keeping their status as the official Teen Titans gives more opportunity to have multiple types of stories going on. And we see that in this issue with the Teen Titans battle Clock King while the freshmen are in orientation and taking their first classes.
Establishing that also helped to get over how Nightwing, Cyborg, Starfire, Donna Troy, Beast Boy, and Raven are stepping up to be mentors. While they could very well have helped take down Clock King it would have not helped in the growth of the current Teen Titans. Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy, and Raven showed that they have trust in the team while still providing guidance so that the team can work together well. That balanced out how we saw both Nightwing and Donna Troy emphasizing that the students are there to learn and they are open to teaching them. It helps build a learning environment right out of the gate.
When it comes to the students of Roy Harper Titans Academy we only get an introduction there was enough there to get a sense of their individual personalities. Brick is the only character that we get a real sense of as there is something up with his powers. While a focus was on his cocky persona its clear that is a mask for more going on with his powers. Which does set-up how we don’t really know anything about the freshmen class of students and they all likely have things we will uncover about them as the series progresses.
All of that said, the big selling point for Teen Titans Academy #1 is on the mystery around Red X. This is where the story that is developed has its ups and downs. On the positive side of things it was good that Nightwing did use his history as Red X as a teachable moment. It further emphasized how the veteran Titans are invested in helping the next generation to be better than them and not fall to the darkness.
Which leads us into the mystery of who the new Red X is. The final page does tease us with one of the students adopting the identity for themselves. How Nightwing and others react to this will be very interesting to see as Red X will likely be acting as the wild card of this series.
Rafa Sandoval delivered quality artwork throughout Teen Titans Academy #1. What I appreciate most about Sandoval’s art is the time he took to make sure every character stood out. He modernized the veteran Titans’ looks as need be and made the newer characters all have their own unique designs as well. It helps build out how every character in this series has something to add which further drives interest in the different stories that can be told with the Teen Titans Academy direction of the series.
The Bad: A major disappointment from the Red X mystery is that Sheridan does not give us any new details. This is the first time we get to learn about how Nightwing’s time as Red X actually took place in the comic books. But Sheridan just avoids details outside of what we already knew from Future State: Teen Titans. Not giving us actual flashbacks to Nightwing turn undersells the importance of why he took on the Red X identity. In the process it lessens the impact of the final page since Red X is still spoken in such a broad way.
It is also odd that before Nightwing’s speech about his time as Red X that Sheridan just acts like that has always been a thing. Red X has only ever been seen in the Teen Titans cartoon. This is the debut of the character in the comics so as a fan we don’t know the importance of the mask within the DC Universe. Sheridan just writes this expecting you to know about Red X from the half-dozen appearances in total the character has had in the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go cartoons. That is not good writing as it is relying on the mask rather than actual development to make the character important.
And as with other titles in Infinite Frontier the use of scenes from Future State, as with the Nightwing birthday, was worrisome. It gives off the idea that Sheridan wants to stick with what we saw in Future State. Which is really limiting the potential this series has since we know the endgame. It would’ve been better if during the simulation Nightwing just talked about Red X. That way we would’ve gotten more time with the students and still get scenes like Nightwing and Starfire deciding to go on a date without much change. But the more Sheridan sticks to teasing things from his Future State: Teen Titans series the more he’ll hold back the stories he is trying to tell as we see with this issue.
Overall: Teen Titans Academy #1 is all about setting up the mission statement of this series. While the mystery of who Red X is will likely be what most will talk about that is not the only interesting thing that happens in this issue. Tim Sheridan does a good job laying the groundwork to get readers invested in all the characters in Teen Titans Academy. And that is all that can be asked for from a first issue of a series.
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