Fans of Raven are in for a treat as the lucky dip that is the DC Digital First line brings us two tales starring the Titans’ resident teen demon.
One strip, excepting a cameo from Nightwing, is all Raven. ‘What’s normal?’ sees Raven decide to rescue a teen from a cult. The followers of Luther Knox (as opposed to John Martin?) are forced to pray for days on end and they’re looking hungry. Raven has a dilemma.
Writer Marc Guggenheim serves up an efficient meditation on free will; it’s pretty earnest, but I did laugh at Raven’s snottiness at the very idea that a former ‘postal worker’ should be allowed to run a cult. And the first page, with Raven on a blind date, is a hoot. The art by illustrator Steve Pugh and colourist Mike Spicer is lovely – this is very much TV Titans Raven, but without all the childish effing and blinding – while letterer Marshall Dillon does fine work too.
Raven shares the second story with Beast Boy and it’s really terrific. It begins with Gar Logan being interrupted as he grabs a snack.
Raven doesn’t like the idea of Lex Luthor having access to information that may threaten the superhero community, so she railroads Gar into breaking into the Lexcorp campus.
Have you ever seen a more unnerving Raven? Juan Gedeon’s version is delightfully creepy, just dripping with inky darkness and menace. Beast Boy, on the other hand, is like something from Animaniacs. Yet somehow Gedeon, partnered with the aforementioned Mike Spicer, makes the contrasting characters work wonderfully well together as they fight super security guards and bad-tempered drones. Meanwhile, writer Andrew Aydin’s dialogue fizzes with gleeful banter, and Marshall Dillon has a field day with big, bombastic sound effects.
This is huge fun from start to finish, with the only thing I’d change being the title – ‘Cool and HIPAA’? I can’t imagine any readers outside the States, like me, not having to look that set of initials up… it’s not even a great pun in terms of the story – what’s coolness got to do with anything?
Still, I loved having the Teen Titans Go! sensibility affixed to a narrative set in pretty much the regular DCU, and I’d relish seeing these creators reunited – all of them, not just Messrs Aydin (he’s in politics, you know, I looked him up too) and Gedeon.
A piece of Gedeon and Spicer’s art is extracted to fill the cover space and while I loved it in context, blown up it looks too sketchy for the featured spot; hopefully the brains behind the DC Digital First books – in this case editors Katie Kubert and Liz Erickson – are busy stockpiling a few knockout images that can be dropped in as required.
If you can spare 79p/99c, give this online issue a go, I’m sure there’s something in here you’ll enjoy – certainly enough to justify the pocket money price. I’ve not even told you about the best page of the issue…
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These Raven-centric stories remind me of an article I just read, a massive analysis of the 2019 US book market for graphic novels and trade paperbacks through the bookstore market. It understates sales a tiny bit because the Diamond distribution to the comics Direct Market is not included, but apparently comic retailers sell relatively few of these.
It’s an interesting report to skim, by a well-known American comic book retailer and industry observer (Brian Hibbs):
(Well at least the pie charts are interesting.)
I was surprised to learn that, despite DC’s Graphic Novels for Young Adults (formerly Ink) and for Kids (formerly Zoom) being considered big successes, they really didn’t sell in dramatic numbers in 2019.
“Teen Titans: Raven” was the biggest seller at 43K copies last year. (It was only released mid-year 2019, so by now who knows. It’s been through multiple printings.) The next best selling one was “Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale” – and it sold fewer than 5K copies! Released in May 2019, so it’s perhaps too early to predict how successful it will be long term.
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I went to the link, saw the pie chart and ran back here, it just gave me flashbacks to Maths lessons. I hope the Zatanna and Anti/Hero books I looked at here recently do well, they were great.
Only the Ghosts digital firsts are supposed to instill that level of terror in you! Hah – sorry!
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Aside: Andrew Aydin coauthored the simply fantastic ‘March’ graphic novel series with the legendary Congressman John L. Lewis. Simply fantastic. As a former history teacher, it’s something I would love to have had for my classes.
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He is, I found that out when I looked him up!