Teen Titans Academy has been one of the more refreshing teen-centric superhero comics on the stands in 2021 and it’s back this week with a pivotal issue. Sure, whoever Red X is behind the mask is intriguing, but Tim Sheridan understands how to write an eclectic mix of characters with strong voices throughout. In the latest issue, Red X is pushed to a new limit and Roy Harper returns!
This issue opens with Flash discovering that Roy Harper is back at the Teen Titan Academy alive and well. It’s a nice reunion and a positive opening for both characters. There’s a touching moment of them hugging that is perfected by Mike Norton, who puts true care and a bit of anguish on Flash’s face and utter joy on Roy’s. The opening involves Roy but also continues to show how Stitch is one of the better characters in the series. Their matter-of-fact nature and inability to completely understand how people should act is funny but also endearing.
While the opening is wholesome and positive, the second half of the book takes a darker turn as a group of the heroes are drawn away from the academy. Sheridan shows us how these characters may be kids, but the implications of being heroes and facing dangerous threats are very real. It’s no more visualized than when Red X loses their cool and does something quite violent. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but one might surmise this issue is evidence the Teen Titans may not be as prepared for the dangers of supervillains as the teachers think.
This is juxtaposed well with Stitch, who unveils the Homecoming theme. Again, Stitch embodies a sense of innocence that’s unmistakable, but there are dark threats afoot in the issue. Seeing Red X react the way he does–which reveals a bit more about who he might be–we see a great deal of pain is coming for a few of these characters.
Norton draws the issue, whose style is well suited for child heroes. There are quite a few characters to draw, including their costumes, and Norton does well with each. With Hi-Fi’s colors, which are bright and vibrant, you get a classic DC Comics to feel throughout the book. Even Red X, who has been seen with rippled muscles, is a bit more toned down and childlike in form.
On the flip side, the colors are maybe too bright throughout, especially when the scenes change from the school to the kids who were kidnapped. A visual change in colors or pencils could help change the atmosphere and mood of each. You get the dire situation juxtaposed with the positive Homecoming scenes, but visually it’s too similar to see the jump.
Teen Titans Academy #9 is a good blend of the innocence of these young heroes and the dark ramifications of what they face from villains outside of the school. There is a lot of weight resting on their abilities, but what about their emotional readiness? What about deserving a childhood? These are themes Sheridan touches on and it’s exciting to see what happens next.
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