Review: Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo

Now it has been a WHILE since I covered comics on the blog. It has also been a while since I read a Teen Titans story. This book also was one of the graphic novels I couldn’t wait for last year since I have been following Gabriel Picolo and his amazing art for years. So naturally, I only read it last week.

When a tragic accident takes the life of 17-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom–and Raven’s memory–she moves to New Orleans to recover and finish her senior year of high school. Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers everyday stuff like how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. And when impossible things start happening, Raven begins to think it might even be better not to know who she was before. But as she grows closer to her new friends, her foster sister, Max, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.

Re-imagining characters in a new way is a hard thing to pull off, especially in comics. People always come to a comic with the idea in their heads of how they experienced a character for the first time and how the new version compares. Like many, my first time meeting Raven was the Teen Titans cartoon on Cartoon Network and the subsequent DC animated works after. This vision of Raven measures up to everything and more that i was hoping for.

For a start, Garcia is the perfect choice for writing this. Choosing a YA writer to write a teenage character is generally always a good choice but here I think it works best of all with Raven being a character who is accessible now to younger readers. I think this is also a great jumping on point for adults too actually, especially if you never read a Teen Titans book.

Something that I find can be done very poorly in classic comics being brought into the current day is new characters that have never existed before. Both Garcia and Picolo together have created Max, Raven’s foster sister and new friend. I wish characters like Max had existed when I started reading comics, she is such a realistic teenager but she is also one of the few teens I have seen in comics who has a good relationship with her mother. Also as is revealed later on, Max has enough of her own shit going on and she handles it like a champ. Note, if you are a long time DC fan, you will spot a well known character connected with the titans here too!

Now to my favourite part. The art. Noone draws the Teen Titans like Gabriel Picolo. I will die on that hill. There are other amazing artists like Jen Bartel who draw the Teen Titans regularly but their appearance does tend to be based on Picolo’s vision. He draws them like teens would be dressed, in the style of Snapchats and just doing normal teen things. This was al before Raven was announced and I imagine that I wasn’t the only one that cheered.

There is a very particular palette as well in the story that keeps with Raven and her aesthetic and I honestly hope this becomes more common across other comics and graphic novels. There are generally two palettes I see in DC, and named them in my head. We have ‘the muddy’ for the edgier stories that are more along the kine of the Black Label and then ‘the bold’ for all the others. Some have both (looking at you Suicide Squad). This was a blessing to see.

I can’t not talk about the clothes. Holy shit if anyone can do fashion besides Kevin Wada, it is Gabriel Picolo. The way Raven dresses makes me long for that wardrobe in my own life. I think some of my favourites are her raven hoodie/jacket and her ‘Black is my happy colour’ shirt. Those shoes too, talk about goals.

There is thankfully a sequel being published this year (hopefully, looking at you Rona) that follows Beast Boy and I think I am safe to assume Raven will make another appearance there. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see what else this team has to offer.

I think I made the best decision to read this now of all times and get me back to reading. Again this is definitely a good place to start if you are reading either graphic novels and comics or to the Teen Titans. Stay safe everyone and happy reading to you all!

★★★★★/5