Review: Raven #1

ravencoverThe Teen Titans’ resident empath, demon spawn, and Goth girl Raven heads to San Francisco and her mom’s family in her new solo series from her creator, writer Marv Wolfman, and artist Alisson Borges (Lobo). She tries to be a normal high schooler, but as in most “superheroes go to high school” comics, this doesn’t work out, and intense magical battles ensue.

Unfortunately, Wolfman’s writing and plotting in Raven #1 is a little bit of a jumble, and he seems to be more concerned explaining her power set instead of showing her attempts to fit in at high school beyond the cliched “Everyone hates me.” thing. (She even vomits in a trash can.) There is a seed of an interesting conflict between Raven and her Aunt Alice’s family as they are devout Christians and Raven is basically the daughter of the devil. But this is only explored at surface level with Raven zoning out during pre-dinner grace and some crosses above in their interior decoration. Wolfman does try something interesting stylistically with his writing by making the high school students’ dialogue one-word phrases like “concert” and “blah blah blah” to show that Raven isn’t really interested in what they have to say. But somehow she has “friends” by the end of the first day through magic. Unlike, say, Steve Orlando in Supergirl who is making Kara getting used to Earth life and school a gradual process, Wolfman just decides to magic it away and give her group of friends that she has barely any connection with beyond the fact that she dresses up like a popular metal band’s singer.

Raven #1 fares a little bit better on the art front. Whenever Raven uses her magical abilities, the panels shift and sway as she manipulates the fabric of reality. Borges uses grids to ramp up the intensity as Raven goes from trying to survive high school to preparing for the return of her demon father, Trigion. And this is where colorist Blond comes in with bursts of energy like a light blue when Raven’s rival starts using her powers. He works in a melancholy purple early in the comic when Raven is thinking about the death of Tim Drake, her Teen Titans teammate, but unfortunately, Wolfman and Borges don’t mention or look into their relationship for the rest of the comic. He’s just a convenient reason for her to go solo and try to reconnect with her family.

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Alisson Borges does a decent job showing how out of place Raven is in high school as well as the practically migraine inducing strain her magical abilities take on her. Her art style is melodramatic, but fits a book where the main character makes the girls around her think they’re pregnant when she’s having a bad day. (That’s pretty cruel, actually.) Unfortunately, Wolfman completely drops the “misanthropic teenager” ball and just makes Raven an awkward cloak wearer.

Raven #1 has nice dialed up color palette from Blond and couple intense magic sequences from Borges, but Marv Wolfman doesn’t really break new ground in the superhero in high school department. He uses Raven’s empathetic abilities to cause her pain and tension, but doesn’t connect it to her real emotions just some random magic using student. So, there is a lot of screaming and magic, but no real emotional connection in the comic, which makes it fairly mediocre.

Story: Marv Wolfman Art: Alisson Borges Colors: Blond
Story: 5 Art: 7 Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review