The Suicide Squad have invaded Titans Tower! And Superboy is one of them (a choice I still find both bizarre and dumb). And I am legitimately not here for it in the slightest. There has been nearly zero character development in this series so far, and what little we’ve gotten is tied to this forced mini-crossover. They keep trying to hook us with cliffhangers and stingers and now prophecies, but you. are. writing. a. comic. about. brand. spanking. new. characters. For Trigon’s sake. If you want us even the slightest amount invested in this hot garbage, you have to invest us in the characters, like at all.
Red X has lead the Suicide Squad to Titans Tower. Why? I have no idea. And they’re after Bolt (our Australian differently-abled speedster). Why? Again, no clue. Sure, they give us a few pages of flashback and Amanda Waller being all “I own you!” but the reasoning isn’t clicking outside of check plot point A off list to continue story. They’re ignoring characterization whole cloth to focus on the plot. And you know what? The plot sucks.
I probably sound bitter. That’s because I’m bitter. I was excited about this series. I sincerely want this series to be good. And that goodwill and excitement has been beaten, spit on, chewed up, and crapped out with every single panel of this comic so far. In favor of what? The mystery of who is Red X? A mystery we literally can’t give two shits about because they haven’t bothered to set up any of its stakes or players? Sure, a lot of people watched the Teen Titans cartoon. I was one of them. Do they really think some undisclosed rando dressed as Red X simply showing up is enough to get people invested? Red X was cool because it was Dick! And because it was part of his slide towards the villainy and towards Slade. Part of his character arc.
Thus far Teen Titans Academy has no character arcs, it barely has characters. I know it’s only been three issues. But the reason I’m this embittered and salty is because they’ve demonstrated that they do not care about introducing us to these kids at all or developing them in the slightest. It makes the whole series seem like a shallow gimmick. And it makes me genuinely dread continuing to review this increasingly hot and stinky dumpster fire.
There’s a reason why I keep saying “they” instead of Tim Sheridan. Not that ol’ Tim is entirely off the hook. That plus-ultra-cringe dialogue in issue #1 was probably all Tim. And the profound, gaping, lack of even a hint of character is probably Tim too. But, the whole affair wreaks of editorial edict. Especially considering this forced mini-crossover and the fact that part of this issue’s storyline is a set-up for the Crush & Lobo series advertised before the issue even starts. The one-two punch of those together makes the whole issue scream ADVERT. Making people buy issues of another series just to make sense of the series they want to read is a scummy anti-consumer move, the same goes for trying to use a series as a blatant advertisement for other properties.
Back to the, erm, story — the heavy hitters of the Suicide Squad are all fully fleshed out characters with years of history behind them. A crossover three issues for them detracts or derails nothing. Same goes for the original Titans and the “upper classmen” Titans. But the kids that were introduced for this series, only two issues ago? They’re screwed. If the series keep up like this it is unlikely they’ll ever have a chance at sticking around or flourishing in the DC universe.
Oh, right. I should synopsize the rest of the issue so that you can be informed enough to decide if you want to buy it or not. While the Squad is infiltrating, Raven has a vision. Which then gets dismissed by Cyborg in a very out-of-character moment. As mentioned earlier, Red X is helping the Peacemaker, Superboy, and co. infiltrate the Tower because, uh, Amanda Waller said so. But Red X has their own reasons™ and seems to be more interested in trash-talking Waller than anything else. However, it looks like the Squad was woefully unprepared for just how many superpowers youngsters attend this school. Oh, and the kids that look like Batman fans are on the case of Red X’s identity. Side note, the book calls these kids “some of the world’s greatest detectives” at one point — and I can’t tell if it’s being sarcastic. I hope it’s being sarcastic.
The art, unfortunately, does not save this issue. Alejandro Sanchez’s colors are still the best thing about the comic. Guest artists Max Raynor and Alex Sinclair on art and coloring, respectively, pop in for a few pages this issue, and I could tell the pages were different, but they didn’t stand out so much as to break the flow. Sandoval’s pencils still aren’t my favorite and their expressions still come across as wooden, but the art is competent and gets the job done.
Can we talk about Peacemaker’s helmet in this issue though? I know it’s a Teen Titans book, but this artistic choice bothers me. For one, it keeps changing size. And for something other than one, it looks perfectly fine in the current run of Suicide Squad. Three, it looks straight-up goofy. I can’t tell if they’re trying to make him a Pharaoh or a knock-off of one of Kirby’s New Gods.
- Honestly, if I were you, I’d wait until the chips fall and we get at least a couple of arcs into this series before I picked it up
- But if you must insist on getting it…
- I’d recommend it if you like shiny headdresses or
- Superboy having eyes that are weirdly far apart or
- Amanda Waller taking a crack at child trafficking
What is this series even for? Fans of the comics aren’t getting anything to work with. Neither are fans of the cartoon. These poor characters are being completely glossed over in order to forward the plot. And the plot is terrible. You figure publishers would have learned their lesson with gimmicks and crossovers by now, but apparently not — and if Teen Titans Academy is anything to go on, they’re becoming even more invasive…
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.