Review: Teen Titans Academy Vol. 2: Exit Wounds hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)


Teen Titans Academy seemed poised to solve a problem that’s plagued the “adult Titans” books for a while now, that these grown and independent heroes don’t have much reason to come together as a team any more, particularly when “because we’re family” often swiftly gives way to the needs of their respective titles or franchises.

Nor have writers been able to establish a compelling area of expertise for the Titans outside fighting the old enemies that inevitably come gunning for them or being a second-string Justice League — a variety of problem which, with Teen Titans Academy Vol. 2: Exit Wounds marking the end of the series and a new one aborning, DC actually seems to be trying to solve for.

Academy had fixes for the above, giving the Titans the training of the next generation of heroes both as their reason for being together and their day-to-day purpose. Here, finally, Titans and Teen Titans in one series together, surely enough to fill the book even when Nightwing and Flash were inevitably pulled into other events.

Exit Wounds is best at its beginning, in a two-parter with an air of very classic Teen Titans adventures, with writer Tim Sheridan and artist Rafa Sandoval. But the rest of the book can’t live up to that start — oftentimes chaotic, oftentimes repeating the same story beats we’ve seen in this book already. And worst, where Academy made headlines because of its introduction of Red X to the DCU, it’s inability to make good on that introduction is a herald of its downfall.

[Review contains spoilers]

Exit opens with the Academy students vacationing to a small town where, of course, the townspeople are being mind-controlled. It is reminiscent, surely intentionally, of the origin of the original Teen Titans, coming together over Mister Twister and mysterious events in Hatton Corners. This book’s first volume, Teen Titans Academy Vol. 1: X Marks the Spot, only consisted of five issues, of which one was a crossover with Suicide Squad and two others were a spotlight on just three characters. As such, Exit’s first story feels like the book’s real start, introducing the audience tangibly to Summer, Gorilla Gregg, Stitch, Tress, and Diego (apart from his “Bat Pack” friends), among others.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

Notably absent from that lineup is Brick Pettirosso, later revealed to be Red X. Arguably Sheridan has kept Brick out of the spotlight such to make Red X’s identity less obvious, but for me it also made it less emotional. We’ve hardly seen Brick do anything except for a few pages in the first issue of the first volume and almost nothing in the second, and so Academy’s most important revelation falls flat.

Further, in these later issues, it doesn’t seem Academy has much new to say, though it’s dialogue-heavy even by my standards. Aside from Exit’s initial story, most of Academy has either been about Red X claiming the Titans abuse their students or the plight of Shazam! Billy Batson and the demon Dane aka Nevermore, and indeed that’s what we find here too. It’s repetitious, and combined with a variety of less-skilled artists as we get toward the end, Academy finishes with a lot of explosions but only run of the mill excitement.

Of course it’s impossible to know if what feels uninspired here may have to do with Sheridan running out of pages. He’s expressed in interviews a reluctance to reveal (the other) Red X’s identity, but the lack of resolution also makes Academy’s end seem anticlimactic. It’s especially grating because all the senior Titans know Red X’s identity, it’s only the audience who doesn’t, and so conversations among the characters come off less mysterious than like awkwardly worded teases.

I’ve thought unusual the accurate assertion throughout the title that the adult Titans do not do a good job running the school (egregiously, Beast Boy admits he doesn't even know every students' name or power set). This has not so much been a book about the Titans running a training facility as it is about the Titans trying to run a training facility but proving too immature to do so. I wondered more than once in reading Academy if loose class structure and constantly having kids go missing and so on was intentional on Sheridan’s part — if that’s his conception of the Titans — or rather lack of enough control over the story to recognize how these things look.

And so in the end, Teen Titans Academy Vol. 2: Exit Wounds seems to fall victim to those very problems that have plagued Titans titles before. Though many of these characters can’t support a book without one another, writers can’t seem not to present them as dysfunctional together. Notably Tim Sheridan’s tongue-tied, Lothario-esque Dick Grayson doesn’t quite match the respected Bludhaven philanthropist of Tom Taylor’s title, and it’s Taylor who gets the Titans next. I’ve far greater expectation of a Titans who rise to the stature of their experience under Taylor than I’ve had perhaps since the Geoff Johns days.



But I’ll end on two final items of praise for this Teen Titans Academy experiment. One, I continue to adore that Sheridan brought together an “upperclassmen” group of Teen Titans from different eras — Bunker, Jakeem Thunder, Kid Flash, Red Arrow, and Roundhouse. I’d be happy to see more of this bunch in the future. Second, I thought it was darling that among new Academy recruits, Sheridan included Whistle and Primer, characters from DC’s young adult line. No thought need to be given to continuity or etc.; just cool cameos all around and a nice nod to DC’s popular YA efforts.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Comments ( 4 )

  1. I really enjoyed this book! The cynic in me might expect these kids to become cannon fodder in the next decade's crisis-of-the-week, but the Bat Pack especially captured my heart. I loved the lower stakes one-and-done school stories, reminiscent of the Rockwell-esque issues of Johns's JSA.

    Maybe it's just because Tim Sheridan has been very nice to me on Instagram (always sending a like and a comment).

    Then again, you're bang-on about Red X. I haven't seen the Teen Titans cartoon from whence he hails, but I was sufficiently intrigued. Less so, however, for the bait-and-switch, in which there are actually two Red Xs, and we only unmask the latter one, leaving the identity of the first Red X for another story. I can't think who it might be to justify this degree of secrecy, but I'm hopeful that someone gets to tell the story someday.

    Side note, I haven't read Dennis Culver's "Arkham Academy" yet from /Batman: Urban Legends/, but the title alone makes me hopeful for a crossover one day.

    1. > I can't think who it might be to justify this degree of secrecy …

      Having not been resolved in the comic, the only answer I will now accept is Danny Chase.

    2. > Danny Chase

      That... would actually make a fair bit of sense! You'd have to do a bit of retconning (since Red X and Dick Grayson had a falling out when the latter was Robin, not yet Nightwing), but that's comics, baby.

      Am I missing my mark, or are the last two issues (#14-15) not going to be collected? I know #13 is in "War for Earth-3" but I can't fathom where the other two might show up down the line. Those issues touch on Sheridan's Shazam plot, the kids go to Apokolips, and Diego meets George Perez (more or less).

    3. Those last two issues are in there. I think I just hit my word limit on my post without mentioning them, and the fact that they were *again* Billy Batson issues, I'd just be repeating myself about this book's narrow focus.

      Yeah, Danny Chase doesn't make much sense time-wise, though I can see how he might think the Titans were exploiting young heroes. Maybe we'll just settle for him being _one of_ the Red Xs.


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