Review: TEEN TITANS ACADEMY 2021 YEARBOOK #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Colours: Marcelo Maiolo, Michael Atiyeh, Miguel Muerto, Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1: As the first quarter of classes draws to an end at Teen Titans Academy, get a closer look at the how students such as the mysterious Stitch enrolled, catch up with the status of Beast Boy and Raven’s relationship, and maybe, just maybe, get some clues on the origin of the new Red X!
Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1 is in actually the first Annual for the title. However, DC is publishing it under the conceit that it is the Roy Harper Academy’s 2021 Yearbook. This is a genius idea, which allows Tim Sheridan and a team of artists a unique way to give us some interesting bits of information around the four stories featured in the issue.
The opening page features an introduction from Class President Stitch, as well as a selection of autographs from the Academy’s students. This is followed by a story that shows how Stitch went from feeling like a friendless outcast to becoming popular enough to be elected as Class President.
An interesting occurrence in this story is when Stitch receives a visit from none other but Doctor Fate. When departing, Fate states, “Good night, my young apprentice” to them. If Stitch is apprentice to Doctor Fate, this implies that they are or potentially could be, an extremely powerful magic-user. It looks like Stitch may prove to be one of the Academy’s most notable students.
There is a touching full page memorial for Roy Harper, the fallen Titan for whom the Academy is named. The statue pictured features Roy in his Red Arrow costume. I find it interesting that the monochrome gray of the statue makes him appear nearly indistinguishable from his mentor Green Arrow. It also drives home the fact that Roy hasn’t been in contact with his Titans friends since his resurrection (as shown in Infinite Frontier). I wonder if the school will be renamed to honour a different fallen Titan when they learn he’s back among the living – perhaps the Don Hall Academy?
Beside that page is the Staff page. It doesn’t offer any new information, but someone has drawn a heart around Beast Boy and Raven, hinting at the romance that has developed between them. This is the perfect lead-in to a story featuring the couple. It’s a brief, bittersweet story that deals with Raven having a vision of the future. Specifically, it’s the event that will cause them to be merged into Cybeast as seen in Future State. Coincidentally, Gar mentions that he’s considering a name change prompted by Vic. If Raven’s vision come true, he’ll be changing his codename due to Vic – but in a shockingly different way than he expects.
This also has me wondering if the Future State future is inevitable? Can it be averted somehow? So far, Sheridan seems to be moving events towards the events of Future State. But Raven’s visions of that future does imply that maybe something can be done to avoid some or all of that future.
The next story features Matt Price coming to the aid of his classmate Tooby. Tooby is visiting his family farm, when their barn catches fire. Matt hears Tooby’s cries for help with super-hearing and comes to the rescue. I like seeing that a friendship is developing between the two classmates. Matt is very much a mystery and has been keeping to himself so far in the series. Maybe as he opens up to his friend, we might learn more about him and his mysterious past.
There are a few hints, implying some connection to Superboy and/or Superman. He demonstrates some of Superman’s powers (super-hearing, flight). But he doesn’t have the full range of Kryptonian powers either. He states that he doesn’t have “freeze breath”. Also, others refer to him as “Superman-boy” or “Superboy”. Could he be another clone of Superman like Conner Kent? Or perhaps he’s a Kryptonian or Daxamite? Matt is one of the more fascinating mysteries that Sheridan has introduced in this series.
However, the final story explores an even deeper mystery: the identity of Red X. This story serves as an origin story of the current Red X appearing in Titans Academy. Unsurprisingly, the story isn’t complete. There isn’t enough detail to reveal his identity, but it does drop a number of clues. The ending confirms that Red X is a student at the Academy. We see Red X as a young child. The depiction confirms Red X is male, but it’s hard to tell his ethnicity. But it’s hard to judge his ethnicity.
One surprising revelation is that there was a Red X between Dick Grayson and the current one. Some unknown person picked up Dick’s discarded identity. He tells his future successor, “I’m the one who took this mask from him… who took his fake mission and made it real. I was the first… but there will be more”. This raises a lot of questions. Who is this Red X? What is the “mission” that he refers to that Dick was supposedly faking?
And for that matter, what were the specific circumstances of Dick’s time as Red X? Is it loosely the same story as told in the Teen Titans cartoon, or a totally different story? There is a lot left to learn about Red X in the months ahead.
I know that eventually Sheridan will eventually reveal the identity of Red X and answer all these questions. There is a danger, however, that he might string it out too long. It can be difficult to judge how long to keep readers wondering before making a big reveal. I don’t mind him stretching this mystery over a number of months, but I hope that we aren’t kept hanging too long. However, we’re barely at the start of the series, so there’s a fair while yet before this mystery goes from tantalizing to tedious.
Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1 was a fun and fascinating companion to the main series. Tim Sheridan has set the stage for several upcoming stories. This annual does a fantastic job at whetting readers’ appetites for the stories Sheridan has planned for the upcoming months.