Teen Titans is a comic book that I will always give a chance to as they were my first look into the greater DC Universe growing up as a comic book reader. Unfortunately I have just not connected with what Tim Sheridan has done with the first two issues of Teen Titans Academy. There are few elements that show potential to deliver compelling storylines. But there have been way to many things with the direction Sheridan is taking Teen Titans Academy where he is just swinging and missing on. The writing has been especially bad when creating narratives for the cast of characters this series stars, both classic Titans and the new students. Can a crossover with the Suicide Squad solve these problems? Let’s find out Teen Titans Academy #3.
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Colorists: Max Raynor and Alejandro Sanchez
Story Rating: 1 Night Girl out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: After leaving Bunker, Crush, Jakeem Thunder, Johnny Thunderbolt, Kid Flash, Red Arrow, and Roundhouse in charge of the students at the tower, the Titans airship Nightwing, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy discuss who Red X possibly is. During the discussion Raven is shown to be disturbed by a vision of a possible future (the same future we saw in Future State: Teen Titans #1 and Future State: Teen Titans #2).
Elsewhere Amanda Waller tells the Suicide Squad (Branch, Nocturna, Peacemaker, Superboy, and Talon) to follow Red X’s plan to break into the Titans Tower in order to capture Bolt (Alinta)
In the Titans Tower control room Crush gets a message from her father (Lobo). Kid Flash, Red Arrow, and Roundhouse enter the room and Crush quickly hangs up on Lobo and leaves saying she is done babysitting.
In their room, Alinta dodges questions from her roommate Tidda about what happened to her. Instead Alinta talks about her history living in South Australia where she used to be her town’s runner delivering messages until she lost her legs in an accident. She goes on to say a government agent (Amanda Waller) offered her a chance to run again but with a catch of owing her something. Alinta then gets a call from “A.W.” (Amanda Waller) and says she has to go look for her legs.
Above Titans Tower, Red X uses the data he stole from the Titans command center (see Teen Titans Academy #2) to lead the Suicide to get into the tower undetected. While leading the Suicide Squad to Alinta’s location Red X questions why Amanda Waller wants Alinta so bad. Peacemaker says he does not care.
Superboy then notices a picture of him with Robin (Tim Drake), Impulse, and Wonder Girl (Cassandra Sandsmark) in the Tower. Before he can say anything the alarm starts to going off alerting everyone of the Suicide Squad’s presence.
Red X and the Suicide Squad rush to find Alinta in the locker room. Before they can capture her Crush, Red Arrow, Kid Flash, and Roundhouse appear and start fighting the Suicide Squad. The Titans Academy soon join and overwhelm the Suicide Squad with their numbers.
During the fight Peacemaker realizes Red X was never looking to help them and knocks Red X out. He then calls the Suicide Squad to come to him and requests an extraction from Amanda Waller. The Suicide Squad are teleported out of the tower with Red X as their prisoner.
As that happens Crush is able to hold Talon back and keep him from being teleported with the rest of the Suicide Squad. Crush then demands answers from Talon. The Titans warp in and tell Crush to stand down as her aggressive interrogation tactics could kill Talon. This frustrates Crush and she tells everyone she quits the Teen Titans.
Later while Nightwing and Donna Troy question Alinta about what happened Raven tells Beast Boy that she believes the visions she has been having aren’t premonitions but something that has already happened.
Elsehwhere the Bratgirl leads the Bat Pack (the students Nightwing sponsored for the Teen Titans Academy) to find out who Red X is. End of issue.
The Good: To say I was disappointed by Teen Titans Academy #3 would be an understatement. The story of this issue, and entire series, lacks the heart to make you connect with anything that is going. There is absolutely nothing about the story involving a crossover with the Suicide Squad that grabs you as a reader.
The only saving grace for Teen Titans Academy #3 is Rafa Sandoval’s artwork. Sandoval gets across that as part of a crossover Teen Titans Academy #3 needed to have a big event feel. That is what we get from how all of the scenes are drawn. Even when things break down with several dozen characters on screen at the same time Sandoval keeps all looking clean with help from inker Jordi Tarragona and Max Raynor and Alejandro Sanchez.
The Bad: Tim Sheridan’s obsession with putting over Red X has completely derailed everything he is intending do with Teen Titans Academy. There is just no care for building up the cast of characters that make up the school that Nightwing, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy have created. Sheridan has just pushed aside developing what this series is about because he wants to make sure the reader understands Red X is who we should have our complete attention to. That would work if this series was called “Red X” but it is not. This is Teen Titans Academy.
Developing the students, especially with how many of them are unknown characters, should be the priority with these early issues. There needs to be a base level of character development to give the reader a reason to care when major things happen in the cast of this series. Without that the students are nothing but empty shells who could be named Jane and John Doe for all we care and it would not change anything about this story.
Which is what exactly happens in this crossover with the Suicide Squad that takes place in Teen Titans Academy #3. As the first major villains that we see the students take on we should be greatly concerned for their safety. Afterall, the Suicide Squad are a group of a deadly characters who could tear the students apart since none of them have had time to train much with the Titans Academy teachers. But rather than create concern or some level of dread all Sheridan does is have the fight with the Suicide Squad be one big gang fight until Amanda Waller teleports her team away.
Adding to how incredibly forced this crossover with the Suicide Squad turns out to feel is the way Alinta, aka Bolt, is the center of the story. We were introduced to this big mystery of a mysterious person contacting Alinta in Teen Titans Academy #1. But rather than use that to be one part of building up Alinta’s character as she becomes the Bolt with saw in Future State, Sheridan just gives all that away. In the process Sheridan makes Alinta’s entire story just about her deal with Amanda Waller before attempting to develop her as a person. This ends up just making Alinta nothing more than a plot device to make a crossover with the Suicide Squad happen rather than a character you have concern about because of how we got to learn about her and see her grow before this story took place.
All of the problems that are had with Teen Titans Academy #3 circle back to Sheridan’s obsession with Red X. The entire issue focus on Red X being the one driving the narrative rather than all of the students and teachers that make up the cast for this series. Sheridan just bets everything on the reader wanting to know who Red X is. In the process it makes it seem that Teen Titans Academy has no other stories in development.
By doing all this Sheridan causes Red X to lose what made the character so cool in the half dozen appearance they had in the Teen Titans cartoon. In the cartoon the fact that the character barely appeared was what made Red X cool. And it was because he was never a focus of major stories that the mystery of who Red X was a compelling thing for Teen Titans fans to talk about. But here we’ve gotten him as the main driver for Teen Titans Academy and they just loses all the most interesting aspects of their character. It gets to a point where all his talking just gets annoying and makes you glad that Peacemaker knocked him out.
Sheridan having Red X as the only thing Nightwing, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy are concerned about at the moment the entire story worse. The whole meeting on the airship just made no sense considering that Bolt, one of the students they are charged with taking care of, was attacked by the Suicide Squad. The Titans should not be taking up their entire conversation time to talk about Red X. We should be seeing them not only talk but actively looking for answers about the Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller’s attack on Bolt. This all just makes them appear to be terrible superheroes and in no way should they be the ones teaching kids if the best they can do is talk about Red X.
Further highlighting how Sheridan is just not placing any care in the characters of Teen Titans Academy was the whole drama with Crush and her relationship with Lobo. This is a sub-plot that comes out of nowhere. There was no build to Crush keeping things from her Teen Titans teammates. Her entire outburst just gives Sheridan an excuse to write her out of Teen Titans Academy since she is going to be starring in the Crush & Lobo mini-series. There was nothing more than that to this sub-plot. Both Crush and fans deserve better than this.
As good as Sandoval’s artwork is the one thing that he doesn’t do as well as he has done in the past in the character designs. Even though this is a series filled with characters of different ages you would not know that from the artwork. Red X is a great example of this as the character appears to be as big as Peacemaker even though he is supposed to be a student. The same goes for Bolt, who appears to be similar in age to the veteran Titans.
Overall: Teen Titans Academy #3 marks the point where I am done with this series. I tried to give Tim Sheridan a chance to get over the concept of Nightwing, Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy running a school to teach the next generation of DC Comics heroes. That was a complete failure as Sheridan has shown he is more concerned about building up Red X. By choosing this route you end up not caring about anything in the story or what happens to the characters, not even Sheridan’s favorite in Red X. It is such a shame because Teen Titans Academy premise had a lot of potential, but it all goes to waste to put one character over.
To comment on this article and other Comic Book Revolution content visit our Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram. You can catch up with all of Kevin’s thoughts about comics, anime, TV shows, movies and more over on Twitter. You can also watch the fun and silly videos Kevin is making over on his TikTok.