DC Comics has just launched a new imprint with the YA reader specifically in mind. DC Icons is the place for young adult readers to grab graphic novels starring their favorite DC characters, but featuring fresh new takes on their stories in a universe removed from the typical continuity, based much more in reality. One of the titles kicking off the series stars one of my favorite DC leading ladies and a founding member of the Teen Titans in a book that re-tells her origin from a new perspective, “Teen Titans: Raven”.
When Kami Garcia approached Marv Wolfman about writing the characters from the team he created in this new YA series, Marv told her to make them her own. That is exactly what Garcia has done with this graphic novel, reintroducing a fan favorite into a teen that YA readers can identify with. The story is non-canonical and has nothing to do with the current DC Comics continuity, making this a standalone title that requires little knowledge of Raven whatsoever. If you ever watched any of the Teen Titans cartoons, you are overqualified to pick up this book and jump in.
Here is the official synopsis of the book from DC: “Teen Titans: Raven” is the first installment of a multipart series from Garcia and Picolo that follows the coming-of-age journey of 17-year-old Rachel Roth. When a tragic accident takes the life of her foster mom—and Raven’s memory—she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother’s family. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. Her past and present begin to collide when more strange things happen during her final year of high school.
“Raven” is a modern take on the superhero origin story, the biggest difference here is this one is filled with high school drama and teen angst. An amnesiac teen trying to wade her way through one of the toughest years of high school while navigating boys and a demon daddy is one heck of a story. Garcia’s tale about Raven is a very unique version of the character we may be used to seeing in other forms of media. Here, she is a more easily relatable character, taking elements that a normal person would deal with on a day to day basis, but tossing in a little bit of the supernatural and telekinetic powers into it make things more difficult for this version of Raven.
Being a YA book, the format is a bit different from the typical graphic novel. It’s broken up into chapters that feel like segments on a TV show, leaving off at just the right spot to make you want to keep reading. Granted, this is no Degrassi, but I liked seeing the characters interact, especially as the mystery of the book unfolded.
I liked the art of Gabriel Picolo, who makes his graphic novel debut with this book. It’s very approachable and I could certainly see it inspiring a lot of younger artists to imitate that style, truly a great fit. Colorist David Calderon uses an extremely limited color palette that is primarily a black inkwash, with tones of purple, red, and the occasional bit of blue or green sneaking into a scene. I expect future books to incorporate the iconic colors for each Titan into the palettes, although I hope Robin’s book doesn’t end up looking like a Christmas card with all of that red and green!
Overall, I liked Garcia’s take on Raven, and I look forward to seeing how this series expands with the upcoming entries in it. Being as this DC Icons imprint is meant to primarily be standalone books, I am curious to see if they will ever tie together, but considering something that happens towards the end of this volume, I think the answer to that question may come sooner rather than later. For fans of Teen Titans and DC comics readers, this YA graphic novel is a great entry point for a new comic reader, and works just fine as a book without any prior knowledge of the character or the DC Universe. I definitely can recommend it this for the YA reader, and think this is a great way to get them hooked on all of the books being by released by this imprint in the near-future. Azarath Metreon Zinthos!