Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Raven #2 Review and **SPOILERS**

They Wouldn’t Let Poor Raven Play in Any Mind Warp Games

Writer: Marv Wolfman 
Artist: Alisson Borges 
Colorist: Blond 
Letterers: A Larger World 
Cover By: Mike McKone & Rod Reis 
Cover Price: $2.99 
On Sale Date: October 19, 2016


Growing up is hard to do, as the song’s ineloquent lyrics claim, but really it’s easy because it’s inevitable. You rail against adulthood your whole life and claim you’d never “sell out,” but one day you wake up and suddenly a sportsjacket with leather patches on the elbows seems like a sensible thing to wear. The difficult part of growing up is that you think you know what life’s about, but people keep treating you like a stupid kid. I guess adulthood comes when you realize that you really don’t know crap and even the most seemingly confident people are still fumbling around more than half the time. If I can impart any wisdom to the youth of today, I’d say that the sooner you can acknowledge your own helplessness and innate stupidity, the better off you’ll be. You should still have goals and pursue them doggedly, but with the foreknowledge that everything can be derailed by something stupid like a freak volcanic eruption. But hey, at least you’re not the daughter of Trigon! So you don’t have that hanging over you. Let’s see how crummy Raven’s life is, so we can feel better about ourselves! Read on!

Explain It!

Remember how the Flash used to have “Flash Facts” where Barry Allen would demonstrate a trait of sometimes dubious science when there were pages to fill? Anyone? Well, Raven’s followed suit with “Raven Factoids,” though so far they seem downright narcissistic. Raven Factoid Number One: her physical body and soul can divide into two separate entities. Well, no duh Raven. How about you tell us what music you like and what’s your taste in boys? We’re not going to fill the pages of this month’s Tiger Beat with stuff about your spiritual self. Anyway, there’s a little more to it: if Raven and her soul stay apart for too long, then shit goes wrong. Fast. I didn’t know that she had the same problem as Larry Trainor from the Doom Patrol, it always looked to me like she could just separate her negative self at will and for however long she wanted, but Raven’s never been very talkative so perhaps she bore the burden alone. Right now, she desperately trying to get her soul, which looks like a horrifying bird monster with massive talons, back in her gut before the stated Bad Stuff happens. As the were-bird flies higher and higher into the night sky, a voice from nowhere booms, “NO…STILL NOT READY” and she plummets to the ground. Before she can turn into paste, however, the feathered Sasquatch shoops back into Raven’s skin and she teleports back to the bedroom at her Aunt and Uncle’s house, safe and sound. Her Aunt Alice even goes to check on her—it’s the Christian thing to do. 

The next day at Madison High School, Raven is at lunch with her new gang of friends…that she acquired using her powers as an empath! That makes sense! I was wondering how one of the most unlikeable teenagers was able to find a gaggle of preppie pals just by attending a class. Well these folks think Raven is the bee’s knees, even though she did behave strangely when Archer was possessed last issue, all muttering incantations and whatnot. While they’re all joshing on each other in the cafeteria, a girl named Antt—because her name is Annabel Tompkins-Tang, naturally—and she’s all abuzz with pep and prodding questions. Raven doesn’t have to answer because someone comes rushing in with news about Taylor! That’s the girl from last issue that was all scanning Raven with magic or something, and then wound up on her own personal dimension where she had to attend a carnival forever or something? Speaking of which, Archer, who was possessed last issue if you will remember, wakes up at 2:36 AM with possessed eyes and heads on over to a local factory with freaky tentacles made of light spewing out of the top, and there is Taylor, hitting a High Striker game where she’s unable to ring the bell. Then Archer is suddenly in a cage high up in the air, and he falls out to reveal his legs are attached to a bungee cord. He boings around a few times before feebly wishing for it to stop—and Raven can somehow sense his pain from all the way across town. Now that’s an empath! She bolts out of bed and hops into her soul form, where she learns Archer is also missing (that’s some quick turnaround) and she overhears Taylor’s last-known location.

Raven mojos over to the factory and senses something is wrong, what with all the light tentacles swirling around everywhere. She can tell Taylor and Archer are in this light…and one other unnamed male. She tries to step into the light, but a booming voice says, “NO…NOT READY…STILL NOT READY…” and bumps her away. Just then, the cops show up with some television crews, and that takes away Raven’s chill entirely. Some folks in hazmat suits show up and appear ready to enter the factory, but the surrounding people get possessed eyes and start swarming the place! Meanwhile the glowing tentacle monster is swiping people up and stuffing them in its center mass. The thing keeps growing, and flicks Raven away again like so much trash, severely damaging her costume—and thank goodness, because that feather-face shit really sucked. As this ball of light takes up four blocks of space, absorbing more and more people by the minute, some secretive figures are watching it happen on the news and decide the time is right to get involved! And I dunno, based on the costume we see I think it might be some Brother Blood business. We’ll have to wait and see!

Though I’m left with more questions than answers, despite the issue opening with a “Raven Factoid,” I was reasonably engaged and interested in the mystically mysterious goings-on. I also really appreciated the fact that the San Francisco authorities reacted to the crazy things happening at the factory, because it annoys me when earth-shaping cataclysms are happening and it seems like citizens just sleep right through them. The art looks very good, though some panel compositions could have been better, and I’m definitely excited to see Raven’s costume redesign. Which probably looks just like the one she wore in Teen Titans Rebirth #1. But hopefully there will be a page of her trying on different looks for the approval of some mind-controlled light monster fodder.

Bits and Pieces:

There's a lot more world-building and not a lot of world-explaining, but this is a pretty engaging issue that should pique the interests of Raven fans. There appears to be some set-up for welcome changes to the character we saw a glimpse of in Teen Titans Rebirth #1. This is a solid comic, but nothing I'd say you should drop everything for and read. If something unbelievable happens in future issues that require your eyeballs' attention, I'll let you know.

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