When I reviewed Future State: Teen Titans #1 back in January, I praised Tim Sheridan and Rafa Sandoval for their commitment to the “every story matters” ethos set up by the finale of Dark Nights: Death Metal and the introduction of the Infinite Frontier era. The two-issue run set up an intriguing mystery centered around Red X, who readers will recognize from the Teen Titans series on Cartoon Network, as well as Titans from various points of DC Universe history. Unfortunately, it amounted to just setting the table, choosing to hand the story off directly to other Future State titles and, of course, Teen Titans Academy.
The Titans have set up the Roy Harper Titans Academy, and it’s move-in day for the inaugural class of young heroes-to-be. Tension begins almost immediately when the new students begin to question Nightwing about Red X. They explain that Nightwing was the first Red X; Nightwing deflects and turns it into a teachable moment. Later, at his birthday party, Nightwing receives Red X’s mask from an anonymous source. It’s a retread of a key scene from Future State: Teen Titans #1, which is helpful for those who may have missed out, but a little frustrating as someone who’s been following the story from the beginning.
Rafa Sandoval’s art continues to be great, especially given the massive cast (my count is a whopping 26) of unique, expressive characters. Where Sandoval and colorist Alejandro Sanchez shine are the incredible double page spreads. We’re gifted with three in this issue alone: one of the new students arriving at Titans Island, one of Nightwing’s birthday party, and a dynamic battle scene with tons of characters, lighting and particle effects.
Teen Titans Academy #1 is an exciting first step (or second step, if you read Future State) into the next era of DC’s young heroes, an era that addresses and respects the past incarnations of the team, while still moving forward in a way we haven’t seen before. We’re formally introduced to the new students but we haven’t had a full look at all of their powers just yet.
The most exciting aspect for me is getting to see the legacy Titans in a new light. I hope we get to see more of Beast Boy, Raven, Starfire and Cyborg in leadership and teaching roles. Additionally, Sheridan doesn’t play the new characters as fans or even timid and shy. They’re willing to confront Nightwing about Red X and, for a bit of comic relief, call him out on outdated and problematic references to Harry Potter. Here’s hoping we see these characters come even more into their own as the series progresses.
The second to last page does bring up some questions about how Sheridan and the team are characterizing Nightwing. With the way things were heading with him in The Last Stories of the DC Universe and his own title, these revelations seem to be suggesting a complete 180, editorially. I suppose we will have to wait and see how things shake out. I feel confident the Teen Titans team have a few more tricks up their sleeves.
Teen Titans Academy #1 definitely treads the same ground as its Future State predecessor, but if you’re just hopping onto the Infinite Frontier train, it’s a pleasant introduction to the new status quo.
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