Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (Illustrator): An Updated Look into the Empath’s Past

Teen Titans: RavenTeen Titans: Raven

by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (Illustrator)
Series: Teen Titans, #1
Paperback, 168 pg.
DC Ink, 2019

Read: August 2, 2019

I’ve talked here before about my love of The New Teen Titans, the 1980-96 series created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. They were my real first (and probably deepest) comic love. It informed and shaped my tastes in ways I probably can’t realize and definitely can’t articulate. It’s practically sacrosanct to me. So the idea of DC Comics hiring Kami Garcia (as much as I might like Garcia) to write modern takes on the origins of Raven (and, apparently, others)—whether or not Wolfman signed off on the idea—both repelled and attracted me. At least it had to be better than that Teen Titans Go! monstrosity.

You know what? I liked it.

Here’s the official blurb, in the interest of time (saving my time that is):

When a tragic accident takes the life of 17-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom–and Raven’s memory–she moves to New Orleans to recover and finish her senior year of high school.
Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers everyday stuff like how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. And when impossible things start happening, Raven begins to think it might even be better not to know who she was before.

But as she grows closer to her new friends, her foster sister, Max, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia and first-time graphic novel artist Gabriel Picolo comes this riveting tale of finding the strength to face who you are and learning to trust others–and yourself.

This retains enough of Raven’s original origin story (I have no idea what her post-New 52 origin is) to satisfy me, but tailored for a contemporary (and YA) audience. It feels fresh, as if Garcia had created Raven herself. Of course, Daddy (un)Dearest is waiting in the wings for a reunion with his daughter, providing the lingering threat that leads to the assembling of the Titans (or, bringing the Titans Together! as one might say). This is, of course, assuming that Garcia is heading in a Wolfman-esque trajectory, it seems that way.

Slade Wilson’s also around in a vaguely menacing way, but we’re going to have to read further installments in this series to get a strong handle on why. It’s gotta be nefarious, because it’s Wilson.

Picolo’s art is nice and dynamic. It pretty much screams motion and youth. Don’t ask me to elucidate that, when it comes to visuals, all I can do is give vague impressions. But I dug it. Picolo’s not Pérez, but who is? I’m glad he didn’t try.

The fact that I didn’t throw this across the room in disgust says a lot for me, that I enjoyed it and am looking forward to Beast Boy says much more. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool fan or even just someone who likes non-Avengers/Justice League superheroes, you should give it a shot.


3 Stars

2019 Library Love Challenge

It’s Our Right to Fight by Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth

It's Our Right to FightTeen Titans, Vol. 1: It’s Our Right to Fight

by Scott Lobdell (Writer), Brett Booth (Artist)

Trade Paperback, 168 pg.
DC Comics, 2012

Read: December 17, 2015

I haven’t picked up a DC collection in ages — and longer for a single issue. The whole New 52 idea both intrigued and annoyed me, and I just didn’t want to invest the time. But I saw this on the shelf at the library the other day, and figured, why not? It was the Wolfman/Pérez run of The New Teen Titans that got me into comics as a kid, and I enjoyed the first twenty or so of the Geoff Johns version in 2002-on before I stopped reading comics for a while. So it makes sense, that if anything was going to bring me back to DC, it’d be The Titans.

So, we get a variation on the Superboy clone being deployed to take out young metahumans. Really? They reboot the entire continuity just to redo stories like this? ooookay. It was fine as far as that goes, nothing special, nothing terrible (although, I thought Superboy’s crisis of conscience could’ve taken a bit longer to resolve) — it was primarily used as a device to get Red Robin (as always, hate the name, love the Bottomless Fries) to gather the troops. We’ve got Cassie/Dont-call-me-Wonder-Girl, who is…okay. We’ve got a new-to-his-powers (or is he?) Kid Flash — he’s pretty annoying and cocky, really, but I’m willing to see him grow.

There are three new characters — Bunker, a name almost as dumb as Red Robin, sort of Ice-Man without the chill, I like him, but think he schtick could get old; Solstice — who seems to be serving the role Raven did back in the 80’s, but I could be wrong; and Skitter, a weird arachnid looking person, I’m not even going to try to guess what I think about her without more exposure.

This is almost all set-up, with just enough resolution to call it a collection and move on to the next. It’s hard to say what I think of the storyline or characters until I se some more, but I don’t mind it. I’m not sure I like it, but I don’t hate it.

Biggest beef: Red Robin freaks out at Kid Flash early on in a way that makes no sense for someone over the age of 6 to do. I really don’t get that at all.

Booth’s artwork was nice — nothing that blew me away, but it’s been awhile since I’ve read a new (to me) comic that had art that nice. It feels like I’ve seen his work before, but looking through his credits, I’m not sure where. Very dynamic, loved the creepy vibe of Skitter’s look.


3 Stars