INAL?

Issue #2 of Teen Titans Academy has dropped. Will it rekindle our (or at least my) dwindling excitement for this series? Or has the fire died? 

Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic. But it’s kind of close. Magic/Adventure Academy-ish stories have been my raison d’etre the past few months (for, cough, research purposes), so I really wanted this series to be good. I mean, how could you mess up this premise? Super school! Classic Titans as teachers! A whole new batch of super-youngsters for them to contend with! Someone’s secretly a bad guy (maybe)!

Not going to say issue #2 is how you mess up the premise — as it’s still too early to call — but come on, dear reader, it did not light my fire…

Is this… an X-Men reference? Or just thoughtless titling?

STORY

We open with a flash-forward. Someone, who —  

Spoiler
definitely isn’t Red X, I mean that silhouette + escrima stick doesn’t match up with Red X at all

— is after our differently-abled heroine, Bolt. Cut back to the present and people, uh, talk to each other a lot about random stuff until Nightwing chases, and fails to catch (surprise!), our masked ne’er-do-well. Oh, and some students want to swap rooms! Exciting stuff, folks.

Hnnggh!

Bolt does get a dollop of character development and mystery, but the page or so doesn’t give us much to work with. My fear at this point is that with a cast so large, it’s going to be a mighty big feat to give them all arcs, let alone any depth. This is the same series that reduced the fact that Billy, freaking, Batson is a student here to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it two-panel reveal. 

But it doesn’t end there, we at least get a big stinger at the end. Which I won’t spoil… Just kidding:

Spoiler
The Suicide Squad crashes the party! Because apparently the only way to make Teen Titans Academy compelling thus far is with a crossover from a much more established and interesting series! Putting all that aside for some real talk: Why is Connor Kent here? I mean, I know in-universe why he’s here, but why though? And why is he wearing his second best outfit? I like his hum-drum black-T outfit as much as the next person (who’s been low-key cosplaying daily as Connor Kent for a decade), but we just got the wonderful Kid Metropolis getup back… Also, Peacemaker’s helmet looks ridiculous, and someone should read Morrison/Quietly’s Pax Americana or take a look at Jon’s Cena’s film outfit — because they made him look like he’s about to fight the Fantastic Four. That is all.

Tentacle hair? Stretchy neck? Rock gauntlets? Floaty powers? These kids seem fun, wish I could get to know literally any of them.

Outsides of brief glimpses, this book isn’t letting us get to know these characters at all. The story so far seems so fixated on barrelling forward from one plot development to another that it forgets to take a moment and allow us to give even the slightest fart about any of its characters. Getting folks invested in characters doesn’t take much, just a little nudge here or a wink there. Most of us really want to empathize and get behind the people that populate the fiction we consume, or we wouldn’t be you know consuming it. Unless storytelling priorities change in the upcoming issues, I fear for the ability of this series to keep a readership.

ART

NANI!?

Alejandro Sanchez’s colors and Jordi Tarragona’s inks are still a pleasure to gander at. Rafa Sandoval has even dialed it back (a little) on his tendency to draw the majority of characters with their eyes closed. There are even some decently expressive faces in this issue. Red X, oddly, has the most expressive of the lot — somehow — which shows me that Sandoval can draw emotion well. He just doesn’t, for whatever reason.

I have a new, and potentially nitpicky pet-peeve this issue: the lettering/speech balloons for Cyborg. Not sure why it stood out to me so much in #2, but the spikes jutting from Cyborg’s word balloons are 1) way too busy for dialogue, and 2) too similar to the tail, confusing the direction of the speaker. The lettering itself reads in my subvocal brain-bits as a synthy, modulated voice. Does this iteration of Cyborg have a robot voice?

Recommended if…

  • You liked the first issue.
  • You’re the kind of eternal optimist that wonders what little miracles tomorrow will bring.
  • You’d like a glimpse into the mind of one of the writers of the upcoming Long Halloween animated adaptation.

OVERALL

I really want to like this series, ya’ll, but it isn’t giving me anything to work with. Tim Sheridan is reaching into the story bag and pulling out twists, reveals, and stingers — but I can’t bring myself to care, because I’m not even a teensy bit invested in literally any of the characters. You have to build the Legos up before you can start playing with them, Mr. Sheridan. At least there are no cringy Millenial v Gen-Z jokes this time around…

SCORE: 5/10


 

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.