The Teen Titans look a bit different, one might say a bit more scholastic, in Teen Titans Academy, which finds its second issue in comic book shops this week. The Roy Harper Titans Academy is now open for business for young heroes and in the first issue, it was move-in day. Cyborg and Nightwing are instructors, but who is Red X? This is especially curious after we found out Nightwing was the first Red X, but with kids settling in will it become more clear who they are?
This issue opens with new hero Alinta fighting Red X and she’s down for the count. Will he kill her? You’ll have to keep reading to find out as the issue cuts to Alinta and a whole bunch of kid heroes outside working out. Cyborg takes center stage as an instructor in this issue and it’s great to see him as a guiding influence on the kids. Writer Tim Sheridan explores a bit of the backstory on one of the new heroes who are more interested in playing what looks like chess than working out. This scene goes a long way in showing the complexity of the students, which is also seen with Alinta.
As the story goes along, Nightwing plays a big part in the narrative as new clues are given about Red X and their connection to the Teen Titans. The book keeps moving forward, with scenes within the halls of the Roy Harper Academy, a conflict with Red X, and a plan by Nightwing to draw out who Red X could be. This book is economical with some clever scene ideas, making it a page-turner for sure. There’s also some good characterization of Nightwing and Cyborg that helps show they are not spring chickens anymore.
In one stand-out scene, Cyborg is having a conversation with Nightwing in front of a window where Beast Boy appears to be fighting a bunch of the new students. As the scene plays out over two pages, there are fun sight gags spread across the visually similar panels, which helps the comedy of the scene work. Pencils by Rafa Sandoval with inks by Jordi Tarragona and colors by Alejandro Sanchez help sell the scene, with Cyborg and Nightwing’s body language changing ever so slightly but always maintaining a relaxed feel while chaos ensues behind them. It’s a reminder these future teen superheroes are a handful, but it’s totally normal for things to get out of hand when powers are involved.
Speaking of art, the art team is firing on all cylinders with detail, volume, and lighting up there with event-level books. The book is at times gorgeous, with great use of full and double-page splashes. Given much of this book takes place in a classroom setting, the art makes the narrative feel larger than life.
The Teen Titans concept works extremely well in the hands of this creative team. Throwing kids into a school setting with danger ever present makes for good drama, and the superhero feel is never lost thanks to the great art. The chaos and calamity of teen superheroes is stronger than ever in Teen Titans Academy and issue #2 shows that.
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