TEEN TITANS: RAVEN by Kami Garcia. Illustrated by Gabriel Picolo. Review.

TEEN TITANS: RAVEN by Kami Garcia. Illustrated by Gabriel Picolo

DC Ink, pb, £12.99

Reviewed by Sarah Deeming

A fatal car accident robs Raven Roth not only of her memorybut also of her foster mother, forcing her to move to New Orleans to her aunt’sand finish her senior year. Fitting in isn’t easy when you move to a new place,but it’s even harder because Raven doesn’t know basic things about herself likeher favourite chocolate or song, or why she can hear strange voices in herhead, or why bad things happen to people when she thinks about it. But as muchas Raven might want to pass of these strange things off as coincidence, thereis a darkness building inside her that she must learn to control or end uphating those she loves most.

Confession time, I didn’t know who the Teen Titans wereuntil my kids started watching a cartoon about them. Since then, I haverectified this situation and while I wouldn’t class myself as an expert, Iwould put myself in the fan category, so I was really excited when I received acopy of RAVEN for review.

RAVEN assumes you know nothing about the character and takes you on her journey of rediscovery after a car accident robs her of her personal memory. It cleverly weaves in all the elements of teenage life and moving to a new school, including the awkwardness of making new friends as well as discovering who to avoid, while not losing focus of the supernatural element of the story. It introduces us to her parents and lays the foundations for series with the inclusion of characters such as Slade early on.

Raven is a fantastic character. I always liked her becausewhatever else she might be, she is also a young woman who enjoys everydaythings. The complexity of her character is brought to life with her struggle torediscover and then later redefine herself based on her current experiencesrather than a past she can’t remember. Chapter 16 is a pivotal moment for Ravenwhere she is able to accept both sides of her to protect others. She must workwith others, combine their powers to defeat something worse than her owndarkness. It is another setup for the team she will eventually join, a lessonshe needed to learn that is emotive and poignant.

Picolo’s pop culture style is perfect for this storycentring around teenagers. It’s bold and edgy, capturing the essence of Raven’sdarkness while also showing her vulnerabilities, her desire to fit in and hernightmares. David Calderon’s colouring brings the pictures to life witheffective use of purple, which is Raven’s colour. Interestingly, lots of thepanels are shades of grey and purple, Calderon using colour to draw our eye tothe key person, rather than bombarding our senses which wouldn’t have workedfor Raven’s story anyway.

The most disappointing thing for me was the preview of TEEN TITANS: BEAST BOY. It doesn’t come out until summer 2020.

RAVEN is a story about family, about those we are born with and those we find throughout our lives. Family is more than just sharing the same blood, it’s about love and trust, and fighting for those we call family no matter the cost. Whether you’re a long-term Titan’s fan or fairly new to them, RAVEN is accessible, gripping, and empowering.