Writer: Marv Wolfman / Artist: Diogenes Neves / DC Comics
We reached the finale of Raven and feel like we’ve come a long way, having seen her begin skeptical of her distant relatives as an adoptee in a foreign-feeling home, to setting out to save one member’s life in what feels like the ultimate stakes despite the literal thousands of others trapped in the peril of losing their souls. The stakes are in fact high for all of San Francisco, but the emotional pull comes from two other places: Raven’s determination to save Mary-Beth, but also Raven’s ability to find the strength to defeat the white, soul-sucking “thing” without losing herself to the evil buried inside her. We left issue #6 with her questioning in climactic fashion if she needs to be evil to do good, as the evil inside her is her greatest source of strength, and we find that answer in even better climactic fashion here. After finally entering the “thing” she is knocked unconscious, repeatedly, where she wakes back up again with no memory of the previous battle, and the build of those scenes as Raven struggles to psychologically spar with her unknown enemy is incredible.
Raven is at her scariest when she’s angry and her most endearing when she’s desperate; Raven’s character has an honesty you have to love, making you root for her each step of the way. We see both the anger and desperation though replaced by unity, a new source of strength lent to her figuratively and literally that rivals the power of her buried evil, and the power of the “thing” itself. The unity leads to confidence, and for once Raven has the power that matches the determination we’d seen displayed through this entire miniseries. Simple solution? Yes. Seen it before? Sure. But she’s fighting a giant psychic orb… she’s not exactly going to defeat it with science.
Throughout Raven readers were always left to wonder about the origins of the “thing” and its motives, and as issues slipped away I feared the series would resort to last-minute wrap-up mode during the climax, perhaps a long dialogue explaining it all to Raven (and the reader) or something else contrived. Instead we’re still left to know little, but enough to know we can learn more later — a slight nudge to continue reading Teen Titans – and I’m satisfied with that. Raven overcame. What she overcome externally, we don’t quite know, but what she overcame internally was where the comic always lived.
Raven set out to reintroduce the character and delve further into the personhood of a dark, guarded soul, and to that task it accomplished everything it set out to do. What a pleasant surprise this entire miniseries was. From start to finish, Raven is a great hero and Wolfman wrote a fantastic book.
Reading Raven? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.