DC Ink has been reimagining iconic DC superheroes for young adult audiences in a line of original graphic novels and Beautiful Creatures author Kami Garcia is teaming with artist Gabriel Picolo on a series of all-new, original stories starring the solo members of the Teen Titans, reimagined for new readers in accessible origin tales. The first of this particular line is Teen Titans: Raven, which focuses on the mystical superhero as she comes to terms with her burgeoning powers and identity. Fortunately, the creative team approaches the source material with a balance of reinvention and reverence to retell Raven's beginnings outside of the main DC Universe continuity in a spellbinding tale that is sure to please longtime fans and unfamiliar audiences alike.
Teenager Rachel Roth, called Raven by her friends, has passed from one surrogate family to another after suffering from a tragic car accident that has left her with a severe case of amnesia. As she transfers to a new high school and foster family in New Orleans, she has to acclimate to her strange new supernatural powers that she seemingly has little to no control over in addition to her new surroundings. While this is going on, dark forces appear to target the shy teenager as she navigates the usual trials and tribulations of high school angst, drama, and romance.
After writing the best-selling, award-winning Beautiful Creatures novel series for years, which features a cast of teenagers and young adults coming to terms with their mystical legacy in the heart of the Southern Gothic bayou, Garcia really is a natural fit for reimagining Raven. Several of the previous DC Ink titles had perhaps tried a bit too hard to seem edgy or drastically reinvent the characters from their classic depictions in the DCU.
While those books were ultimately uneven, Garcia expertly walks the fine line of respecting the history of the character while breaking new ground with this incarnation of Raven and her world; the fan-favorite superhero comes off as familiar and yet completely fresh at the same time here.
Similarly, Garcia shows an amount of restraint in conveying the emotional turbulence of being a teenager with traumatic experiences that previous titles may have lacked. Raven's tragic past and her difficulty reconciling with it are on full display, but never come off as overly melodramatic or messier than they should be. Garcia welcomes readers into this new vision of the DCU while maintaining the right amount of teenage drama and organically adding DC characters into the narrative. Garcia proves herself more than up to the task of finding the right balance between all these different threads.
Paired with Garcia is artist Gabriel Picolo, with David Calderon providing colors. The visuals are relatively seamless and perfectly capture the emotion and sense of teenage reckless abandon in the story. Garcia knows when to pull back and let the art team do the heavy lifting for the storytelling and Picolo delivers in full. Similarly, Calderon's restrained use of color highlights and emphasizes important points to the reader giving it an additional visual flair. Finally, Tom Napolitano's lettering gives the multiple voices within Raven their own distinct feel as the story progresses.
Of all the DC Ink titles to be released so far, Teen Titans: Raven stands clear as one of best stories in the line to date. The creative team works well together and Garcia especially demonstrates her experience and appeal as a young adult storyteller with the iconic DC hero in a new origin that both respects the character while taking advantage of the new approach. With the duo reuniting to similarly relaunch Beast Boy as part of the line, the future of Teen Titans graphic novels appears to be in good hands.