After a lame crossover infiltration by the Suicide Squad, The Bat Pack (yes… that’s what they’re calling them) are on the case! What case, you ask? Why it’s “Who is Red X?” of course! Will they crack the case? Or just bumble around like the severely underdeveloped characters they are? Stay tuned to find out.
Phew. Alright. We made it through that damnable crossover, now time to actually take a breath and get to know these kids, right? Right? RIGHT!?
I’ll let the issue’s own description speak for itself:
“From the halls of TEEN TITANS ACADEMY, through the darque doors of existential ennui, emerges the world’s greatest team of junior nihilist detectives: THE BAT PACK! Together, brain BRATGIRL, chilling CHUPACABRA, and the mighty MEGABAT are on the case, following the clues, wherever they may lead, to solve the freakiest mysteries the universe has ever known! … or, ya know, whatever. Ugh.”
Teen Titans Academy #4 is every bit as cringe-inducing as that description makes it seem. Setting aside the fact that issue #4 reads like a bad backup story — actually, I’m not quite ready to set that aside just yet. The full title for issue #4 is “Teen Titans Academy Presents: The Bat Pack in X Marks the Spot!”. They had to know what they were doing. Is the entire issue supposed to be an aside? A B-plot? Filler to give the creators some space to think of more plot for the A-plot? I have so many more questions, but I’m too beaten down and fatigued by this series so far to even begin to ask them…
Now, truly setting aside the B-plot nature of this issue, Teen Titans Academy #4 reads like it’s trying to be a good-natured parody of… something. They’re maybe going for a sort of metatextual Deadpool-ish parody of… well that’s the thing isn’t it? The series hasn’t established itself. How can something provide fun metacommentary on itself without first carving out any sense of identity? Sure, you can make fun of the tropes of a genre, or even a specific instance within that genre — but that’s not what is happening here. This is three idiot kids playing detective and being treated by the text itself as the aforementioned Deadpool-esque parody.
Maybe I’m reading into it, but who is this for? Why are these kids acting like they’re in a noir? Why is the issue commenting on itself? Why are they doing all of this nonsense instead of letting us get to know these new characters?! I’m beyond sick of this series being gimmick after gimmick after gimmick instead of an actual story.
Speaking of the “story”, there’s not much there. The Brat Pack picks a seemingly arbitrary list of suspects and spends the rest of the issue stalking, spying on, and rifling through the rooms of, their classmates. And torturing — yes, they torture another student. With electricity. The comic plays this off as cute and/or funny. What do we find out from all of this investigating? Nothing. We learn nothing. About Red X, that is. We do, however, learn that the hologram that taunted Nightwing in the first issue was created by Bratgirl for… reasons? (Because of course, it doesn’t bother to explain why she did it.)
Hey, at least there’s a stinger at the end. Why else would anyone bother to keep reading this series?
TTA #4 is drawn/inked by guest artist Steve Lieber. And they’re… fine. There isn’t much action in this issue, nary a spread nor even a half-splash to be seen. Lieber seems to have decent comedic artistic chops, but it’s hard to tell since many of these jokes (both visual and narrative) land with a big moist plop.
The aesthetic of this issue has more of an indie comic flavor, which matches the tone of the writing well enough. The colors by Dave Stewart are flat. I think they tried to make up for this by adding various textures to the coloring, but it doesn’t really help. I won’t say the look of this issue is bad, or even sloppy — but I’m definitely not a fan.
- You like poorly done metatextual parody
- You’re allergic to character development
- I don’t know… Billy Batson is in a couple of pages?
As I said earlier, Teen Titans #4 reads like filler. Like a not-great backup story that somehow devoured its A-plot. I started out — four long issues and many moons ago — bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, raring to love this series. Presently, I find myself jaded and world-weary, dreading each new Teen Titans Academy, longing for the gimmick-ridden disappointment to end. Teen Titans #4 only further buried my soul in ennui. Darque existential ennui. Or, ya know, whatever. Ugh.
I’m gonna go watch the Teen Titans cartoon…
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.