Teen Titans: Raven
David Calderon (colourist), Kami Garcia (writer), Tom Napolitano (letterer) and Gabriel Picolo with Jon Sommariva and Emma Kubert (artists)
DC Ink (a DC Comics imprint)
July 2, 2019
In March 2015, I hosted a Gotham Academy roundtable featuring five book bloggers. We discussed their limited experience with comics, if the series was great for newbies, and if they would go on to read more comics. The purpose of this exercise was to prove that DC Comics could reach a larger audience by making their comics more accessible. It’s been almost three years since that roundtable, and DC Comics is publishing graphic novels under their new middle grade and young adult imprints: DC Zoom and DC Ink. This ongoing series on WWAC, DC Youth, will follow these fledgling imprints and see how they do with reaching a new group of comic book readers.
Seventeen year old Raven Roth loses both her foster mom and her memory in a car crash. Relocating to New Orleans, Raven stays with her foster mom’s sister and her daughter, Max, in order to finish senior year. Without her memory, she can remember more practical things like doing her math homework but not favourite type of candy bar. Another thing she’s forgotten is the power building inside her and the dark presence connected to it but not for long.
I. Love. This. Book. So. Much. With three of the DC Ink and Zoom’s books under my belt, it’s felt like I’ve been holding my breath for the title that would hit all of the right notes: a well executed story from start to finish, great art to accompany it and most importantly, something I can wholeheartedly recommend to teens and fans of young adult stories. Kami Garcia did a fantastic job at using the 168 pages she had to tell Raven’s story. It quickly established a believable friendship with her foster sister Max and her attraction to Tommy while showing us her struggles with identity and a brewing power. It’s self contained with room for more of her story in a future book. The writing takes into account the work that the art should be doing which is why the 168 pages didn’t feel rushed or oddly paced like with previous DC Ink and Zoom titles.
Speaking of art, Gabriel Picolo’s style is great for this book and it’s evident that he knows how to draw teens in the way they dress, move and use technology. I highly recommend checking out his snapchat inspired illustrations featuring Raven and the rest of the Teen Titans gang on Twitter. It’s truly a team effort with the smart colouring decisions made by David Calderon who didn’t completely adopt the single colour scheme of the previous two DC Ink books and opted to instead go with the persistent grey but then strategically incorporating other colours whether it’s adding the purple to Raven’s hair, adding navy blue to the grey and colouring in Max’s mother’s skin tone to a graveyard scene or colouring an entire page like in the right-hand image above.
I’d like to also acknowledge the work of Tom Napolitano’s lettering because that also helped break-up the page when it was in just grey. You’d have the various text bubbles (text messages, dialogue and thoughts etc) in different colours or fonts that were consistent in their use, dynamic but also complimentary so it didn’t distract from what was happening on the page.
This book is about the family we choose and that who we are isn’t just about the material things we enjoy but the person we are at our core. Teen Titans: Beast Boy is the first sequel from one of the DC original imprint titles to be announced and I can’t waiti to see this team return to tell that story. I’m pumped.