Review: TEEN TITANS ACADEMY #4
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Steve Lieber
Colours: Dave Stewart
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Teen Titans Academy #4: Who is RED X? The students of Titans Academy want to know, and they want to know NOW! After the infiltration of the school by the Suicide Squad, three unlikely students launch their own investigation into the mysterious figure’s true identity and motivation. What they find is shocking and surprising, if any of it is actually true!
The story in Teen Titans Academy #4 focuses on the title’s ongoing mystery, with the Bat Pack attempting to figure out which of their schoolmates is secretly Red X. One of the drawbacks to a book with such a large cast, is that a lot of characters can fade into the background. So, I’m glad to see that Tim Sheridan has decided to bring the Bat Pack to the foreground for a proper introduction.
Sheridan doesn’t go into their backstories, but does give us a feel for who the characters are. They are three teens from Gotham City that have unofficially banded together as a Bat-themed group. Chupacabra seems to be the leader of the group. He is the most visually distinctive, with white skin and pointed ears. Is he a mutant or did he get exposed to the Man-Bat serum? Or something else. And does this appearance hint at any superhuman abilities. He seems to hero-worship Batman, and his ambition is to become a detective on the same level as his hero.
Bratgirl, however, seems to be the real brains of the operation. And tt appears that she has the role of keeping Chupacabra focused on their goals. Her facility with technology and computers, as well as her name are reminiscent Oracle/Batgirl. I wonder if there’s an actual connection between her and Barbara Gordon, or does she just see Batgirl as a paragon to be emulated?
The third is Megabat, who appears to be the muscle. However, we don’t see him actually say anything. He comes off as not exactly as smart as the others, but extremely loyal to them. But is his silence hiding that he’s smarter than he seems? All three characters are fascinating, and I hope that Sheridan will reveal more about them in later issues.
One of their prime suspects for being Red X is Billy Batson. They don’t seem to be aware that Billy is Shazam. However, it seems clear to readers that Billy can’t be Red X. We do learn that something is wrong with Billy’s powers. When he says the magic word “Shazam”, the lightning sometimes doesn’t come down, but even when it does, he still doesn’t transform into the Big Red Cheese. I have to wonder if the Billy’s problems have something to do with the apparent death of the wizard Shazam in Infinite Crisis #1. And what about the other kids in the Shazam family?
Another prime suspect is Matt Price. However, I think he’s a little too obvious of a choice to be the true identity of Red X. Also, while Red X seems to be a very skilled fighter and acrobat, he hasn’t shown any sign of actual super powers like Matt has.
And who is M. Radley anyway? I get a feeling we’re going to be seeing more of him in the months ahead.
As I state above, Teen Titans Academy has a huge cast. There are three distinct groups at the school. The original Titans are the school’s faculty. The most recent Teen Titans team are the upperclassmen. And a group of original characters are the freshmen. Plus, there are untold other kids we’ve seen in the background. Having such a large cast can be good, as it gives lots of potential stories, plus allows Sheridan to pull in new characters or relegate others to the back burner to suit the needs of the story.
However, this can also be a drawback. There are so many intriguing characters here. I hope that none of them end up getting forgotten while the story focuses on others. So far, I haven’t seen any indication that Sheridan will let any characters fall by the wayside, but it remains a danger.
With Teen Titans Academy #4, Sheridan is starting to explore the title’s primary mystery: the identity of Red X. However, we are left with more questions than answers. A bit frustrating, but it serves as a unique hook to keep readers interested. With Tim Sheridan’s storytelling and Steve Lieber’s stellar artwork, DC has a winner in Teen Titans Academy.