The first issue of Teen Titans Academy was a much better showing by Tim Sheridan in comparison to his work on Future State: Teen Titans. The first issue of this series introduced us to the concept of the Roy Harper Titans Academy along with the staff and students that will be part of this series. With Nightwing, Starfire, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy anchoring this series Sheridan has set-up the next generation of heroes to have a place to learn and grow together. Now with the groundwork for the Roy Harper Titans Academy in place let’s see what is next for the staff and students with Teen Titans Academy #2.
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In a locker room Alinta (Bolt, who was The Flash in Future State: Suicide Squad) is attacked by Red X. Alinta dares Red X to kill her if he genuinely believes he is several steps ahead of her.
Seventy-two hours earlier, the freshmen are training with the upperclassman who are the current Teen Titans while Beast Boy, Raven and Cyborg oversee the training. In the middle of the training Cyborg compliments Alinta on her use of the Speed Force and gives her the nickname Bolt that Alinta likes and adopts as her superhero name.
Cyborg then notices one of the students named Matt Price not participating in the training. Matt says he doesn’t need training as he is stronger then everyone there including Cyborg. When Cyborg wonders if Matt misses his home Matt says he doesn’t have a home as his only memory is walking on an aircraft carrier. Matt then decides to leave.
In Nightwing’s room, Starfire gets dressed after spending the night with Dick Grayson. Dick mentions that Barbara Gordon called about something happening in Bludhaven. This makes Starfire question if he is with Barbara and his commitment to the Titans Academy. Dick tries to explain but Starfire walks away doubting he can.
In the hallway Tooby tries to get Matt to trade rooms with him but Matt says no. Stitch tells Tooby nice try and they’ll have to keep trying to convince Matt later to switch rooms.
Nearby Nightwing talks with Cyborg about his situation with Starfire. As they talk Matt walks by and they both think how he reminds them of Conner Kent. They then go back to talking about Nightwing and Starfire with Cyborg already knows Barbara was what caused their fallout again.
Nightwing changes subjects to the missing Red X mask. Cyborg suggests looking in the command center.
In the command center Nightwing catches someone dressed as Red X downloading files from the computer. Red X is able to evade Nightwing and escape through Titans Tower.
Bolt notices Nightwing chasing after Red X and puts on her blade prosthetic legs.
During the chase Nightwing dives after Red X but the fire extinguisher he used to help with the dive is too long enough to help break his fall. Luckily Bolt catches Nightwing before hits the ground. Nightwing then only finds Red X’s cape left on the ground.
Red X is then seeing jumping off the top of Titans Tower.
Nightwing then gathers all of the students and staff for a meeting.
Before the meeting begins Bolt has a mysterious discussion on the phone with the person who helped her enroll in the Titans Academy. The person reminds Bolt they own her and then hang up the phone.
The person who was talking with Bolt talks with someone named “Smith” who demands the person hand over the requested file.
Back at Titans Tower, Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy, Donna Troy, and Starfire don’t think it is a good idea for Nightwing to freak out the students by lying about knowing who Red X is.
As the meeting is about to start Bolt thinks about deleting a contact on her phone with the initials of “A.W.” something that Matt notices.
In the future we see Red X attack on Bolt once again. Before Red X is able to kill Bolt the Suicide Squad (Peacemaker, Superboy Conner Kent, and Talon) appear. Peacemaker tells Red X and Bolt to come with them quickly because because “anything else would be SUICIDE.” End of issue.
The Good: For the comic book that has the largest cast in any DC Comics series you would not be able to tell that was the case from the writing of Teen Titans Academy #2. It’s only thanks to the artwork by Rafa Sandoval that you get how Teen Titans Academy is a series filled with young heroes that Nightwing, Starfire, Cyborg, Donna Troy, Beast Boy, and Raven are training. But rather than build out the entire cast of this series we see a narrow focus on only two students, groan inducing drama from Nightwing and Starfire’s on-off relationship, and set up for a crossover with the Suicide Squad only two issues into Teen Titans Academy.
Not everything about Teen Titans Academy #2 is bad. The bright spots when the students are the focus, as shown by how we start to learn about Matt’s origin story. Cyborg and Nightwing mentioning Conner Kent’s origin with what they learn of Matt was a good reference point made to get the reader behind a character that could easily come across as unlikable. That comparison adds to how there is more to Matt that he is hiding, which is showcased with how he brushes Tooby and Stitch’s room exchange offer.
With Matt being established as a brooding character developing a more cheerful character in Alinta was a good balance. Sheridan does a good job in establishing how Alinta’s personality and how quickly she jumps on the Bolt superhero name after Cyborg mentioned it when seeing her run. This is where Rafa Sandoval artwork shined most in Teen Titans Academy #2 as he did a great job getting the sense of motion as Bolt speed around Titans Tower while using the Speed Force.
Speaking of Sandoval, it was the artwork that carried the storytelling in Teen Titans Academy #2. Even though we only had a focus on five characters Sandoval got across how there is an entire student body now living in Titans Tower. The way the kids act in the background as they go crazy in the hallway with Beast Boy trying to get them to go to class while Nightwing and Cyborg talk was a great use of visual comedy. It all showed how there is a big cast in Teen Titans Academy that is just waiting for the writing to develop them as the series progresses.
The Bad: Even with how large of a cast that Sheridan has to work with in Teen Titans Academy he purposely limits this series by just focusing on just a handful of characters. Even if Matt Price and Bolt are two characters that this series will place a big spotlight on it should not be to the detriment of the rest of the students introduced in Teen Titans Academy #1. This early on into this series lifespan the writing should take the opportunity to see which students both the reader and story itself naturally gravitates to by showcasing each student in some way.
Rather than doing this through character development in his writing Sheridan puts a lot of that on Sandoval’s art to get over the scope of the Roy Harper Titans Academy. By doing so even the artwork suffers because you get pages that feel cluttered by a bunch of background characters we do not care about. Other than Matt Price and Bolt all of the students at the Titans Academy are, including the current Teen Titans roster, are really just forgettable characters. Which is not the fault of the characters since we are two issues in but the fault of the writing just not allowing these characters to grow.
Not helping matters is that the only story that Sheridan chooses to focus on when it comes to the Titans Academy staff is revisiting the on-off relationship between Nightwing and Starfire. Everything about their one page scene and Nightwing’s talk with Cyborg later on just comes across as been there done that territory with this relationship. The approach that Sheridan takes with trying to rekindle the flame of Nightwing and Starfire’s relationship makes these two characters come across as if they are also students from an old CW teen drama like One Tree Hill.
It is incredibly disconcerting the potential that is to be had with the direction in establishing the Titans Academy. This was a chance for Sheridan to show how Nightwing, Starfire, Cyborg, Donna Troy, Beast Boy, and Raven understand that they have a responsibility to teach the next generation of heroes. But rather than show that through how they handle teaching the students in different types of classes we are just back to focusing on Nightwing and Starfire’s relationship drama.
This is an especially not great for Starfire’s character. Because for Dick Grayson he at least has his solo Nightwing series to continue his progression as a hero and person. For Starfire rather than using the momentum created by her time on the Justice League Odyssey team as Teen Titans Academy #1 established she had headmistress role at this school. Instead, she just can’t help but get to her old routine of trying to get with Nightwing. There were honestly many ways that Sheridan could’ve approached this latest attempt by Nightwing and Starfire to rekindle their relationship in an adult manner to continue their respective progressions. Unfortunately, that was not the choice made and just makes you as the reader instead hope that this is the last attempt they both make and just move on permanently from each other.
The Red X storyline also continues to fall completely flat. The main problem with the Red X storyline is the fact there is no actual history that Sheridan has attempted to give to what the identity represents. All Sheridan has done is relied on the fact that the reader has seen the handful of appearances that Red X has had in the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go cartoons. This could’ve easily been fixed by actually showing a flashback to why Dick Grayson adopted the identity of Red X in the comic books, possibly placing it in his transition period from Robin to Nightwing. Without that history established the Red X identity is as meaningless as the lie that Nightwing is getting ready to tell the students.
The teaser of a crossover with the Suicide Squad was also the most unexciting hook ending to conclude Teen Titans Academy #2 with. The entire clash between Red X and Bolt leading to the Suicide Squad’s appearance came across as completely rushed. We literally have only had Teen Titans Academy #2 to get details on how there is more to Bolt’s character than we know as she is being given a Terra-like storyline. The whole conflict with Red X and the Suicide Squad would’ve meant more if Sheridan spent time over the course of this series to develop this sub-plot involving Bolt. Instead, Sheridan is just rushing things with very little character and story development.
It is also does nothing to build interest in Teen Titans Academy to be getting a crossover with the Suicide Squad series after only two issues. This series is just getting started and has so many characters and stories to explore in order to establish the direction for the Titans Academy. There just hasn’t been time given to have concern what a crossover with the Suicide Squad would mean for all the characters long-term. It all just creates a feeling that as a fan I have to, rather than want to, invest money into other comic books to simply get a complete story out of Teen Titans Academy.
Overall: The first issue established Teen Titans Academy to have a deep cast of fan favorite and new characters to build a strong foundation around. You would not know that by reading Teen Titans Academy #2. This entire issue just rushes through various stories with minimal development or reason to be invested in character arcs. Its all made worse by the set-up for a crossover with the Suicide Squad that is done in the most unexciting way possible. It is such a big disappointment to see the potential Teen Titans Academy had go to waste after only two issues.
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