Some of comicdom's younger heroes dream of hitting the big time: like children of New York who wish to pitch for the Yankees some day, growing heroes may seek the big leagues to prove their worth or do some good.
But which is the most beneficial path to greatness? In our first annual Comic Vine Hero School Report, I go undercover to give teams and academies a once-over.
- The Avengers Academy: Amazing on paper: government funding, famous faculty and amazing potential. How do the new kids on the block fare?
- The Teen Titans: An experiment in alternative learning, the Titans are a self-governed group of students that remain largely autonomous from the greater hero community. Is this independence a good thing?
- The Xavier's Institute for Higher Learning: Primarily a place of mutant knowledge, Xavier's has always been one of the places to earn your chops. Does it live up to the hype?
- The Justice Society of America: Storied history, prolific teachers. How does one of the oldest institutions in comics do when it comes to producing the heroes of tomorrow?
- The Teen Team: This plucky band of do-gooders is one of the only young teams in the greater Image Universe. They definitely have some areas of good and bad.== TEASER ==
The Avengers Academy: Tenured professors ( Hank Pym, Tigra, Quicksilver, Speedball, Vance Astro) seem very neurotic and haphazard; definitely need more cohesion in order to be effective. Guest instructors make up for any lacking, and are on-call almost immediately. B
The Teen Titans: None. Leadership structure is determined by election/initiative, but in-fighting and second-guessing is common. Team ranges from functional to non-functional, and sways as membership fluctuates. D
The Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning: Education is only as effective as the people who teach it; certain headmasters of the Institute have been more effective than others. Teachers come and go as they gain membership in the X-Men, and missions often take precedent over student education. Teachers have a genuine interest in their students however, and are fiercely protective. B-
The Justice Society of America: Students could not ask for better teachers. Heroes from the Golden Age ( Flash, Green Lantern, Wildcat) are competent mentors and will often take a backseat to other leaders in the field. Old-timers may be out of touch with younger students, but the age variance in mentors allows for adaptation. A
The Teen Team: Formal mentorship is non-existent, but leadership is consolidated around one individual hyper-intellect. Leadership is accepted and respected. However, this does not make up for a lack of experience in the field. C-
The Avengers Academy: Hank Pym's Infinite Avengers Mansion is both secure and spacious; "infinite" kind of carries that definition. However, one can't feel a bit trapped in there; students may feel a bit caged. State of the art training facilities make up for it, however. B+
The Teen Titans: The Titans Tower is capable as a headquarters, but placing a big "T" on an island in the middle of New York's East River (later San Francisco Bay) is just begging for villains to knock it down (current demolition count: 3). One wonders how a group of rag tag teens can afford to keep rebuilding it. C+
The Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning: I'd like to give the mansion a higher grade, but it seems that if anyone hates mutants, that building is going to crumble. It's been demolished, blown up, vaporized, set on fire... you name it, it's been through it. Donations from a certain benefactor have kept it state-of-the-art, but it always seems to be under renovation. New facilities on Utopia show promise. C
The Justice Society of America: The JSA Brownstone is a venerable location with roots in Gotham City. While this seems like a good place for new heroes to cut their teeth, recent developments and a strict warden have made things a little more dicey for one to consider. Facilities are a little dated, but have worked well for generations. At least it's got a sweet trophy room? B-
The Teen Team: The Teen Team's bridge hangout works well for what most teenagers need: somewhere to get away from their parents. Not quite state-of-the-art, but functional: realistic for their budgets and subtle enough that it stays out of the public's eye. A
The Avengers Academy: Not applicable, as the first class has not graduated yet.
The Teen Titans: Many graduates have gone on to become respected members of the hero community (if they can survive long enough). Many members have gone on to usurp their mentors' mantles completely. B (see next section for why)
The Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning: Graduation from the XIHL seems to be varied; some are very successful, and go on to serve with the Avengers, X-Men, Defenders and more. Others, however, stay within the organization, teaching or operating in the field. Options are many, but some students may find themselves perpetually on the "B" team unless they show initiative. A-
The Justice Society of America: It seems that the one area the JSA lacks is graduate turnover. Most members choose to stay within the organization, mentoring new heroes as they come in. Some ( Hawkgirl) have gone on to bigger and better things, but one has to wonder if that is because of initiative, or wanting to get away from the comfort of a team that works as a family? B
The Teen Team: At present day, all the members of the Teen Team have graduated to the
The Avengers Academy: Surprisingly good! No casualties yet in 10 issues. I'm kind of cringing for when they do make their first kill, however: I like these kids. A
The Teen Titans: Where to start. Going by my count from this list, the Teen Titans have lost thirty nine members in their creation. Most of them are victims of company cross-overs, strangely enough. This does not include maimings such as Little Barda, or Risk having both his arms ripped off. Join with caution. D- (See me after class).
The Xavier's Institute For Higher Learning: While teachers of the school have become increasingly worried over students well-being in recent years, this has done nothing to erase the numbers of deaths that has faced the team. Coincidentally, this increased amount of casualties does correspond with leadership changes. Students can expect to face scrutiny from the public as well as villains. C-
The Justice Society of America: For the younger members, the death toll is surprisingly low. However, the team is a target to establish a villain's threat during large, earth-changing events. Working with the JSA can go one of two ways: safety due to "big gun" protection, or dying horribly (like poor Damage.) B
The Teen Team: The Teen Team is not dead last in this list simply because they have had less fatalities than the Titans. However, their deaths seem to be more gruesome. Survivability still seems to be on the high scale, though; maybe the fear of getting your spine snapped in half keeps them sharp. D
The Avengers Academy: A lot of heart, and good on paper; time will shape this new system and prove its effectiveness. Teaching structure needs work, but there will be wrinkles to iron out in any system. B
The Teen Titans: Needs a solid command structure and more teamwork. High team turnover means less of a chance to be cohesive. Risky, but produces amazing results. C
The Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning: Students will find that they become part of a greater cause when they enter the Institute. School spirit is high, and teacher-student trust is rebounding from an all-time low. Expect good things in the future. C+
The Justice Society of America: One of the first, and still the best. The JSA needs little work; just more ambition to leave their protected hallowed halls and experience new things in the world. A
The Teen Team: The team the Teen Titans should aspire to be if they wish to keep their "no grown ups" rule. Competent, but hazardous; teamwork will ensure survival, which will come with experience. B-
And there's our grades for the first Comic Vine Hero School Report! Which school would you want to attend?