The Ravagers #4

Although "The Culling" crossover left me flat on this title and the others involved, "The Ravagers" #4 drew me back in with the Beast Boy-centric cover. As a big fan of the Doom Patrol, I've been looking forward to what might become of my favorite freaks in the relaunched DC Universe since last September. Needless to say, except for the Robotman story in "My Greatest Adventure," I've been considerably disappointed. All the more reason to find out what this red version of Garfield Logan is all about.

Howard Mackie opens the issue with a massive information dump about the new Beast Boy that really tells us nothing about the character, where he's from or what really motivates him -- save a dream he has about being heroic. The rest of the issue poses as a bit of a challenge to read since Mackie abuses the hell out of ellipses, using them in the place of nearly every other punctuation mark that most middle school students would choose to employ instead. Mackie's compulsion to give every character, except for Caitlin Fairchild, a one-liner or a zinger reduces every single character in "The Ravagers" #4 to a cipher. None of them are particularly interesting and their reason for existence, seeing as they seem to hate each other, is completely unclear.

While the art from the penciling duo of Daniel Sampere and Stefano Martino is decent, in no small part to the inking efforts from Norm Rapmund, the choice to have the team continue to wear Tron-inspired costumes is ridiculous. I'm hoping with the introduction of a safe house in this issue there might be some better costume decisions made for this non-team. The pair of pencilers does offer some rationale to explain why Beast Boy would choose a tiger after having just transformed into a sabre-toothed tiger earlier in this issue. It seems like an odd choice to me, and one that is quickly rectified in the issue as Beast Boy switches over to a Velociraptor-like dinosaur.

Through the framework of telling the story in dialog boxes featuring Beast Boy's insights, we get an idea of what he's going through with the transformations, but not much more. The conflict at the heart of this issue is against Brother Blood, which allows Mackie to squeeze in a nice mention of the Red, tying this book to "Animal Man" and the broader DC Universe as a whole.

After taking a couple months away from "The Ravagers" and coming back to this series with this issue, I am still not sold on this book. At all. The best parting commentary, and sign of hope I can offer, though, is that the second-to-last page has just enough of a teaser for this diehard Doom Patrol fan to come back next month despite the painful writing.

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