Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Raven #3 Review and **SPOILERS**

Soulicon Valley

Writer: Marv Wolfman 
Artist: Alisson Borges 
Colorist: Blond 
Lettering: A Larger World 
Cover By: Annie Wu 
Cover Price: $2.99 
On Sale Date: November 16, 2016


I had a few novelty magic tricks as a kid: a fake matchbox that made a penny disappear, or the old color-changing scarf gimmick. More than magic tricks, I had novelty pranks, like flies in ice cubes, or whoopee cushions, or joy buzzers. I must have gotten five joy buzzers before I realized that whatever “shocking” effect they were supposed to elicit during a handshake did not actually exist. I really must have been some kind of jaggov as a kid, handing out garlic gum or leaving fake dog poo around like some kind of cut-rate Soupy Sales. I probably should have had my ass kicked. Maybe that’s why Raven’s somewhat reserved with her magic powers, she doesn’t want to be the precocious Sabrina-esque brat that uses her demonic witch abilities to levitate a can of Diet Coke from the fridge. Let’s see what Raven’s up to now, I’m sure she’s using her terrifying abilities judiciously and to great effect for the benefit of all!
Explain It!

That glowing, growing white thing that was drawing in the populace of San Francisco with some kind of mind control, well it’s still doing that. Now, though, Raven can feel the anguish of everyone’s soul that is absorbed into this high-contrast Michelin Man. Even more curiously, Raven can feel these tortured souls blink out, as if they hung up abruptly on a solicitor during dinner time. While Raven copes with these soul-stealing cramps, she spies her brand new pal Antt, being drawn into the white light by its irresistible musk. Raven tries to save Antt, but ends up cutting her in two, and she can’t affect Antt’s daze at all. Antt yet lives despite not having the lower half of her body, and Raven tries to mentally bond with her in order to find out where she buys her shoes. After some intense staring contest action, the soul-munching blob ejects Raven from the game for illegal eyelid-narrowing, so Raven suddenly finds herself in her bedroom at her Aunt Alice’s house, with no memory of events from the night before.
After a lovely pancake breakfast at Cornball Central, then a full day of school that we can only assume has happened off-panel, Raven is back in her room, brooding before a newscast about last night’s phenomenon, which she still can’t remember despite the fact that she’s literally watching footage of the actual incident. Aunt Alice comes in to test the Christianity waters, then as she backs out of the bedroom a tendril from that soul-chomper comes through the wall and bashes Raven around a little before teleporting her back to the Wharf! There, well it’s more of the same stuff, except now Raven remembers the prior evening for all the good that it does her. She realizes that this thing was awakened by the soul of a dying man, and has been sucking souls and chucking their worthless human packaging to grow bigger and stronger—in order to defeat Raven, specifically. Raven can’t stroll through to the inside of the white blob, but she can use her abilities as an Empath to hitch a ride on one of the mind-controlled people’s brains.
Inside, Raven sees the terrifying amusement park where everyone is begging to “please make it stop,” which is precisely what I used to mutter on roller coasters when I was a kid! Spotting the interloper, the tortured souls converge on Raven, who grabs Antt’s soul and leaps out of the soul-taster, falling right to the feet of some waiting EMT workers. At the hospital, Madison is there still looking for her boyfriend, and she notices Raven and Antt get wheeled in. She’s about to help staff, when Raven starts twitching and mumbling, not unlike my grandmother in her later years. Eventually, her soul self spews out of her body, and people attending Raven are thrown aside. Back at her crib, little Billy’s internet has been hijacked by a garishly-dressed terrorist organization that claims responsibility for the thing that’s chewing up souls—and they’ll be glad to turn it off for a five billion dollar maintenance fee! Seems very reasonable!
I really liked this story’s structure, which I did not follow closely in my recap, but I thought the tale itself was a little flat. This ability to teleport Raven against her will seems cheap, somehow, and I felt like the story spun its wheels for almost the first half of the issue. We’ve got three issues to go, and we’ve introduced a new villain without fully comprehending the nature of the one we’ve got. I’m pretty sure it will all be explained by the end, but this issue alone doesn’t exactly stoke my fires to keep reading. The artwork is very good, no complaints there, though I was disappointed to see Raven still wearing her feather cowl like some kind of budgie cosplay. I expect, of course, that Alisson Borges had no input on that particular annoyance, and in any case it wasn’t the important deal-breaker for this miniseries.

Bits and Pieces:

A fairly weak start to the issue does conclude with a new wrinkle in the story, but since few of the extant wrinkles were ironed out, it's looking a bit disheveled. There's obviously some big connection between the disparate moving parts in this book, but three issues in my interest has waned. I think we should know more about what's happening by now. Now if this were a bi-weekly book, I might be singing a different tune.


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