The mystery of Red X deepens…  Enter: The Batpack!  Your Major Spoilers review of Teen Titans Academy #4 from DC Comics awaits!


Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Steve Lieber
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Mike Cotton
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 22, 2021

Previously in Teen Titans Academy: 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!


Teen Titans Academy #4 focuses its attention on the Batpack, a trio of kids from Gotham City who idolize the Bat-Family, and are certain that they can unravel the mystery of Red X.  Chupacabra narrates this issue as they narrow down the suspects (with occasional interruptions from other members of the Academy to call him out when he makes stuff up.)  First, the capture and torment shapeshifter Tooby, who doesn’t seem like he’s the type to be a masked vigilante.  Stitch, the mystical fabric golem, helps them gather information and is also removed from contention due to his not being Red X material.  (He’s “mostly dacron and Persian cotton.”  Heh.)  Matt Price catches them trailing him and the resulting fight ends with our trio in Principal Starfire’s office, while Billy Batson’s unexplained power problems seem to make him a prime suspect, while Brick destroys their tablets when he discovers them following him.  The Batpack is ready to confront Billy Batson, when they suddenly run into the REAL Red X.


I haven’t been really high on Teen Titans Academy so far, as there has been a lot of buildup that hasn’t really gone anywhere and far too many characters floating around unexplained.  This issue’s use of Chupacabra is delightful, and the camaraderie of the three kids is pretty wonderful as well.  At one point, they end up in trouble, and Chupacabra cries out, “To the Packmobile!”, leading Megabat to scoop his friends up and run away, which is hilarious.  Visually, this issue is also an improvement, as Lieber’s art is much more grounded and expressive than Sandoval’s stiffer, glossier take.  There are a number of sequences that are hilarious just in terms of the art (like Tooby’s “lie detector” test and the final page accidental reveal of Red X), and everyone looks so much more natural, even Stitch, who has frankly been frightening in previous appearances.  Add in the mystery of what’s going on with Shazam, and Teen Titans Academy #4 makes for a pretty good read.


The upshot is that Teen Titans Academy #4 does what the first three issues didn’t, convincing me that I might want to read this book in the long term, and finally giving some depth to various players who’ve been bouncing around since issue one, earning a better-than-average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I can’t tell how much of that new accessibility is due to the change in artist and how much is finally having a single, entertaining point-of-view character to take us through the halls of the Roy Harper Academy, but either way it’s a welcome upgrade for the book, making it feel like there’s more potential here than I realized before.

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An improvement, thanks to stronger art and a focus on the charming Batpack trio. This book may keep my attention after all.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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