Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo
DC, pb, £11.04
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
In the third instalment of Garcia and Picolo’s Teen Titans series, Rachel Roth and Garfield Logan, Raven and Beast Boy, finally get to meet. Both are killing time in Nashville waiting for the mysterious Slade to show up and help them deal with their individual power problems. When Rachel is pickpocketed, Gar steps in to ensure she has a bed for the night and food. Total opposites, Gar is bright and enthusiastic, wanting to make the most of his time in Nashville, while Rachel wants to hide until Slade can help her get rid of Trigon.
However, when Rachel and Garfield are kidnapped and forced to watch the other’s torture, they must make peace with their power and escape. But they have help. Rachel’s stepsister, Max, witnessed the kidnap and is determined to rescue them. Nor is she alone because Slade had invited another young person to Nashville who is more suspicious than Rachel or Gar. Someone with elite assassin training and a superhero legacy that weighs heavily on his shoulders; Damian Wayne.
I am a huge fan of this series, so there was much excitement in my house when Beast Boy Loves Raven arrived, and it did not disappoint. Picking up the story immediately after the previous two stories, Rachel and Gar arrive in Nashville separately. When they meet, Garcia and Picolo capture that delicate essence of teenage romance full of awkwardness and self-doubt, mixed with their raw earnestness and desire. It’s exceptionally cute and reminded me of when I was that age so many years ago.
This is the first time we see this Teen Titan’s Robin, Damian Wayne. We meet Damian before he becomes Robin, and his relationship with Bruce Wayne/Batman is strained. He is cocky and arrogant, thinking he already knows everything and doesn’t need any help. When he watches Rachel’s kidnap, Damian decides to help, as much to show off to Max as to do the right thing.
Picolo’s art is as on point as ever, clever, funny and full of life. Gar and Rachel are alone in his room after Rachel is pickpocketed and can’t afford a room of her own. They’re sitting on separate beds, and Gar is channel hopping, but every programme contains couples kissing. Naturally. Rachel and Gar’s embarrassment sizzles off the page. I also enjoyed the sightseeing panels. The locations fill a double page, and the different teens are shown in floating panels within the spread. Picolo captures the moment’s energy, or boredom, revealing more of their characters than words could.
Damian’s portrayal interested me the most because this is the first time we’ve met him. He is confident, which is appropriate for someone who has had his training, but he is also socially awkward, as someone who had only spent time with assassins would be. But don’t just take my word for it.
In my house, there is a young adult who occasionally puts down Fortnite to read a book. Discovering Beast Boy Loves Raven had arrived was one of those moments. She read it before I did, sighing and giggling and laughing out loud as well as shrieking with delight when she realised Damian was in it. There was also a loud shout of “Starfire” when the alien princess appears in two panels. My daughter also studied all the adverts at the back, then told me which ones she wanted to read next (all of them) and complained at how long she had to wait for Teen Titans: Robin. If that isn’t a ringing endorsement that this series is perfectly pitched for its intended audience, I don’t know what is.