Raven #1 (November, 2016)
“The White Carnival, Chapter One: The Hunt”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Art – Alisson Borges
Colors – Blond
Letters – A Larger World
Assistant Editor – Brittany Holzherr
Editor – Alex Antone
Group Editor – Marie Javins
Cover Price: $2.99
In celebration of the twelve-issue Raven: Daughter of Darkness maxiseries wrapping up today… and make no mistake, we are celebrating the fact that that book is over and done with (it was one of the more painful books I’d ever agreed to read), I figured today we’d look back at where it all began!
If you’re interested in following me down the path of madness (and boredom), you can check out my reviews of the entire Daughter of Darkness series over at Weird Science DC Comics.
We open with a monologue from Raven… which is thankfully devoid of numbered “Raven Facts”. If you’re reading the follow-up, you’d know how ubiquitous (and unfunny) a presence they were. Anyhoo, this is in the wake of Tim Drake’s death, and that team of Teen Titans being spread to the winds. And so, in order to get a better understanding of who she is, and where she came from… Raven decides to move in with her Aunt and Uncle. They’re Christian, by the way… we’re going to be reminded of that fact a whole lot.
Raven is instantly uncomfortable, not just because of the abundance of crufixes (crucifi?) peppered around the home, but also by more mundane things like knick-knacks and pillows. I get that this is a “fish out of water” story… but, feels like we’re trying to hard to make the ordinary appear extra-ordinary. The fam gathers around the table, and says grace… which makes Raven worry that she made a mistake by coming here.
That night, Raven is haunted by a nightmare… it’s the usual stuff. Did you know that Raven is the daughter of Trigon the Terrible? Of course ya do… because that’s Raven’s only story.
Anyhoo, Raven wakes up and finds herself surrounded by her Aunt and Uncle who overheard her crying about something called “Trigon” and came running to see what was wrong. Raven is mum on the contents of her nightmare… but is comforted by the fact that her Aunt and Uncle appear to care about her.
The next day, Raven starts at her new school. Gotta say, the dialogue she overhears in the hallway isn’t nearly as cringy as I was expecting. This definitely isn’t Daughter of Darkness… because, woof… that’s cringe-city. This scene is really well rendered… single over-sized panel that still gives the impression of progression. I like it a lot.
As Raven makes her way toward class, she is overcome with feelings of extreme nausea… she believes it’s due to a psychic scan, and fears that her brothers might have caught up to her. She hurfs in a garbage can, while her fellow students all get grossed out. To throw them off the (literal) scent, she makes them face their worst fears… which, are unanimously about getting knocked up.
After class, Raven is approached by a multi-culti band of good kids. They instantly begin asking her questions about where she came from… and conveniently, they even ask about her father. I mean, for such a paranoid girl, shouldn’t she think this is kinda weird? Maybe it was just a way to remind us that Raven is the daughter of Trigon the Terrible… in fairness, it has been about two-pages since our last reminder.
Raven is overcome by the sickness once more… making her fear another psychic scan. She doubles over, and catches a glimpse of a tall girl coming down the stairs. Just then, her new pal Archer starts screaming… his eyes don’t seem to work anymore!
Raven begins to control traffic, and uses her powers to give Archer his sight back. He’s taken away by the paramedics… and everything winds up cool. Raven wonders just who that tall girl was… and how she manufactured this situation.
Before heading home, Raven is informed about… and invited to a Carnival going on that evening. Then… things go nuts. White globs show up… Raven finds the tall girl… and when they touch, we flash to Archer in his hospital bed writhing in pain (I think).
The tall girl (who, hell… might not be all that tall after all) reaches into Raven’s chest and grabs at her soul before flinging her off to the side. Raven is able to deduce that this girl has nothing to do with Trigon… so, she’s probably wandered into the wrong book.
That night, we check in on the carnival… where… okay, this is where the art kinda gets to me. There’s a girl who might be the “tall girl” hanging out with Raven’s new pals? It’s really unclear… since they all look like they should be part of the Burger King Kid’s Club (minus the one in a wheelchair), none of them really stand out. Anyhoo, the maybe “tall girl” breaks away to call a Ugo! Car (Uber) to take her home…
… but winds up walking into a portal instead?
And then… “the white” explodes, filling the carnival with blinding light. Is this a backdoor pilot for DC’s version of the New Universe?!
Ya know… I have a sneaking suspicion that, had I not just read the twelve-issue followup to this series, I probably wouldn’t have cared much for this. However, with as mind-bogglingly awful as Daughter of Darkness was, this issue feels damn near good by comparison! It’s still not a story I personally really want to read… but I can’t outright dismiss it as being “bad”.
In fact, the first half of this issue (as ham-fisted as it could have been taken), was mostly enjoyable. I like the idea of Raven trying to discover more about her mother’s side of the family. I also like the idea that her Aunt Alice (and fam) are more traditionally religious (as in, they don’t worship the Goddess Azar)… though, it does edge on being overstated here.
Raven not “getting” knick-knacks… ehh, it’s silly, but harmless. The follow-up (not to dwell) has Raven mystified by such things as Christmas. I mean, I understand “fish out of water”, but there are certain universal things that anybody, regardless of how sheltered they are/were… ought to know. Especially if you’ve actually spent time around people… like Raven has.
The art here is decent… though, more easy to follow during the first half. The characters, when introduced all at once with no real identifiable traits, become interchangeable… and worse yet, confusing. I mentioned during the synopsis that I wasn’t sure if the girl who stepped into the portal was the same girl that triggered Raven’s nausea… and Archer’s blindness. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not even sure we were following the same group of kids here! This might have been an entirely different Burger King Kid’s Club Clique! And I tells ya, that is a problem.
Overall… I might still just be shellshocked by Daughter of Darkness… but, this wasn’t a half-bad issue. Not something I’d lose myself in, but there are far worse books out there… like Daughter of Darkness. This issue is available digitally (at full-cover price).
Remember to come back tomorrow… for it is our special THIRD ANNIVERSARY Spectacular. We’ll be celebrating Three Years of Daily Discussions… and, discuss the future of this humble blog. Changes are comin’… Don’t miss it!