Review: TEEN TITANS ACADEMY #12
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Tom Derenick
Colours: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Teen Titans Academy #12: It’s all come down to this! As their lives are literally tumbling down around them, the Titans must contend with the betrayal of their most troubled student—who has just unmasked themselves as Red X—plus a familiar face from deep in their darkest days, determined to exact an unholy vengeance upon Nightwing. In the end, after the epic collision of past, present and future, who and what of Teen Titans Academy will still be standing?
Teen Titans Academy #12 is chock full of surprises and revelations. But the biggest reveal is the unmasking of Red X. It turns out that one of the Academy’s students, Brick Pettiroso was Red X. While I can’t claim to have figured this out before the reveal, it does seem rather obvious in retrospect.
But what is surprising is his motivation. Brick reveals that Nightwing is actually his father. But wait… wouldn’t Dick have had to fathered him when he was about ten? Yeah, unsurprisingly, this was a lie fed to Brick by his predecessor, the second Red X. Apparently, Brick doesn’t just refer to his powers, but also his intelligence. Brick was just the pawn of the real Red X.
However, it is also revealed that Brick was the fourth Red X, raising the question of who the third Red X was. Is it someone still connected with the Titans? Despite this issue’s big reveal, Tim Sheridan is keeping most of the Red X mystery intact.
The question is still open about whether or not the Titans have avoided the future seen in Future State: Teen Titans, or whether that timeline is becoming inevitable. Brick’s death does not preclude those events. The Red X from that future could be either the second, or perhaps the third, Red X. Changeling and Cyborg are both injured this issue, which might possibly lead to them sharing a body as their Future State selves will. And Raven is still having visions of a bleak future. The future doesn’t look too bright.
There was another surprise, though not quite on the same scale as Brick’s unmasking. When Brick attempts to flee, he finds the ever-silent Megabat blocking his way. Then Megabat breaks his silence, declaring “No more”. Later, he delivers two word balloons full of exposition, prompting Chupacabra to exclaim, “OMG, Lucas– Do you ever shut up?!”.
Dick declares his intention to hunt down the second Red X. He states, “There may be only one man who can help me do that…and he’s more dangerous than Red X”. I suspect that Dick is referring to Deathstroke. This is somewhat fitting, considering that Dick created the identity of Red X to get close to Deathstroke – or at least he did in the Teen Titans cartoon. It’s quite possible a similar story happened in the DCU as well.
Brick’s revelation as Red X and subsequent death struck me as not having the impact that it should have. My first reaction to the revelation was to wonder why I hadn’t figured it out for myself. So, I tried to recall what I knew about Brick. I realized that I really didn’t know much about him. Some Googling filled in a few details, but made it clear that we readers didn’t really know much about him at all.
And that’s why this issue’s big revelation doesn’t have the impact it should. We hadn’t seen enough of Brick to have much emotional involvement in the character. That’s most likely caused by the large cast in this title. But Sheridan really should have made an effort to let readers get to know Brick. While other characters have had their moments in the spotlight, Brick never did so, except as Red X.
Despite the diminished impact of the big reveal, this was still a shocking turning point in Sheridan’s story. And it does end on a tentatively hopeful note for the Academy’s future. Unfortunately, DC has announced the imminent cancellation of the title with issue #15. I hope this allows Sheridan to bring the story he’s been building to a proper conclusion, or that he’s allowed to finish it elsewhere.