The new creative team of Michael Alan Nelson and Ig Guara offered up hope for “Ravagers” #8. Unfortunately, that hope is dashed pretty quickly as a skirt-wearing character on page one declares, “If I ruin my jeans. . .” Coordination and collaboration are the keys to successful comic books and that line coupled with the skirt and stockings the character wears betrays any signs of either.
Glutton for punishment that I am (or am I merely hope-filled and optimistic?) I pressed on to find this comic book is filled with the attempts of Rose and Warblade to contain what may be one of their greatest mistakes. A metagene-based epidemic unleashed on the small town of Hartsville (or Hortsville, as another disconnected collaboration appears between writing and lettering) provides a horror-tinged, race-against-time plot. The threat doesn’t hit close enough to home to be gripping, choosing to stop at merely intriguing while the solution to halt the spread of said epidemic is rather mundane and awkwardly executed.
On a positive note, Guara’s art is well-suited for the Ravagers team, or at least for the one, single splash-page image we get from Guara of the team on the final page of “Ravagers” #8. Guara’s tendency to draw wide-eyed teenagers assists in broadcasting the gravity of the situation, but Guara’s “ordinary people” lack polish and zip. This issue is all about an epidemic in a small town so the art as a whole doesn’t provide much pizzazz. One panel depicts Rose negotiating with local authorities and it appears the ground is being shot all around them or breaking up under some attack, but the story doesn’t provide any such context. Tony Avina’s colors are heavy in blues and greens, making the explosions and power zaps dramatic, but homogenizing a lot of the remainder of “Ravagers” #8. Further complicating a murky artistic showing, I’m not sure what “art direction” by Ron Frenz means for a comic book, but I can surmise that perhaps Frenz has provided breakdowns or some such. It would be nice if there were some strand of cohesion to bind the story to the art.
As a Doom Patrol fan, I’ve been hopeful for clues to the New 52 appearance of the team and this book has offered the most consistent source of that hope, with appearances by Beast Boy and Niles Caulder. The art and story haven’t always been easy to digest and, quite frankly, the book has been painful to continue with. When I saw the Pat Gleason cover solicited some time ago, it drew my attention to the text, which promised a new start of sorts for one of DC’s lackluster “Second Wave” titles. While “Ravagers” #8 is far from an auspicious start, it is still far better than most of the previous seven issues. I’m hopeful that this new creative team is simply going through the storming part of their new working relationship and will soon find the norming phase. With that, maybe the book will become a readable series of adventures. If not, I would dare say “Ravagers” might soon be doomed, regardless of whether or not the Patrol ever materializes in these pages.