The concept of a yearbook is a smart one for a superhero school, and we’re getting one with Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook this week. The first quarter of classes is near its end and with it comes plenty of memories. Contained in this extra-sized issue are four stories, colorful photo pages straight out of a yearbook, and a clever idea for a comic that adds to the ongoing narrative.
Tim Sheridan writes each story in this book, starting with a story about Stitch drawn by Bernard Chang, colored by Marcelo Maiolo and lettered by Rob Leigh. Sheridan does a great job getting inside Stitch’s head, which is particularly fun as they aren’t human, but they certainly have human desires and wishes. Stitch wants to have friends, for instance, and wants to be noticed, but they also aren’t aware they even have friends already. Sheridan gets in their head in a relatable way and I’m sure most of us could relate to the down in the dumps feeling of being alone even when we may not be. This story connects in a cool way with a major superhero and ends on a nice note too. It has a good arc to it and helps open the book with some feels, some action, and some heart.
Marco Santucci draws the second main story with colors by Michael Atiyeh and letters by Leigh. This story features Beast Boy and Raven having a nice dinner and sharing a few moments. It’s a reminder of how different they are — and how their powers give them different things to tackle in their daily lives — but also how they are stronger together. It’s a short and sweet tale that has a realistic-looking style with good use of color for volume and lighting. As teachers at the school, it’s nice to see them in an adult setting, especially since it requires some superpowers to get some alone time.
This is followed by a fun “Candid Campus” and “Class Superlatives” double-page straight out of your everyday high school yearbook. These extra pages are fun, colorful, and lean into the one-shot theme. All in all, it helps flesh out the idea that this is a real school with plenty of the average and usual events any old school might have. It just so happens most of these students can do amazing things with their abilities.
Next up is a story drawn by Darko LaFuente with colors by Miquel Muerto and letters by Leigh. It opens with a superhero softball game, but Matt Price hears a call for help and zips off. The story focuses on Matt helping out Tooby whose family barn is on fire. This story has a manga feel with plenty of bright pinks and purples. It’s a reminder that some of these kids could use some family experiences and it allows Sheridan to have Price connect with Tooby in a real way.
The last story is drawn by Rafa Sandoval with inks by Jordie Tarragona and colors by Alex Sinclair and letters by Leigh. This story is incredibly detailed and offers up plenty of Red X for fans of the character. It opens on some terrible foster parents who take in children for cash. Red X doesn’t like that. Red X looks insanely cool in this story — he has a slightly different look that’s akin to a ninja — and it features some fun action scenes too. It comes complete with a bit of a message from Red X to help us understand their mission and ideals. Red X does straight-up murder, but for the right reasons.
Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook is a super fun extra-sized issue with plenty of heart, charisma, and interesting character development. Comics like this remind us these characters are all unique in their own ways and dealing with different issues even though they’re all connected as schoolmates at the academy. It’s also a clever way to tell a one-shot story as it adds realism to a superhero school setting.
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