Other creators involved in the making of this graphic novel include: Illustration by Gabriel, Jon Sommariva, and Emma Kubert, coloring by David Calderon, and lettering by Tom Napolitano
Content/Trigger Warnings: Death of a parent/loved one, bullying, minor homophobia
After a horrible accident taking more than her memories, 17-year-old Rachel Roth moves to New Orleans to recover from the accident and finish her last year of high school. Things are never that simple though. Starting over and trying to remember things is never easy. When strange things begin to happen and suddenly Raven can hear thoughts and feelings from others, among other impossible things – Raven starts to believe that not remembering might not be so bad after all. With coming closer and closer to a Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is, new friends, her new family, and her foster sister, Max, Raven is faced with a choice… Block them out of her life completely or come face to face with her past and a dark secret that only the dead know about.
If you’re a fan of Teen Titans then this will be one graphic novel you’re going to want to have on your radar. Before the Teen Titans, we follow 17-year-old Rachael, who prefers to be called Raven by her friends, who just had her whole world turned upside down. Now she can’t remember anything except the mundane like solving math problems and how to make a pot of pasta, but everything else has completely vanished. Picking up the pieces and trying to start over is never easy, Raven is slowly learning this. So when she meets a boy named Tommy Torres, suddenly things don’t seem so bad. Until strange things starts happening and a dark voice begins haunting her dreams.
“I will not let you go into the unknown alone.”
Where do I even begin with this graphic novel?! I liked it, I really liked it! This is my second DC Ink graphic novel and I found that I enjoyed this one so much more than Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale. The author really knew about the character she was writing about and whenever I read graphic novels about my favorite comic characters, I at least hope they stick to that hero’s or villain’s background for the majority of the comic. Super thankful for the the obvious love and knowledge of this character got poured into this book by the author!
I’ve already stated how much I love the fact the author knew about the character she was writing about. I’m even more impressed that she added Slade into the mix of this whole comic. If you’re not familiar with Slade, Slade Wilson or otherwise known as Deathstroke is technically a villain (although I say he’s chaotic neutral) from DC comics. He’s a mercenary and an assassin who serves as the archenemy of the Teen Titan, more specifically Dick Grayson, otherwise known as Robin, Batman’s sidekick. I was super surprised he was dropped in panels throughout this graphic novel! This was probably my favorite thing about this graphic novel except maybe the cat this tarot shop.
Speaking of things I really loved, Tommy Torres was a surprised for sure. Any part with him, he reminded me of the personality of Beast Boy. I went the longest time thinking that he was going to be Beast Boy and this was them meeting before Teen Titans. Even though that wasn’t the case, he was a pleasant surprise. His personality made a difference in this graphic novel and it reflected with how Raven would act and respond to certain situations. I loved every bit of it! Not to mention, this really shows that Raven has a type and if you haven’t read the comics or even seen the show Teen Titans, then what are you even doing?! Although, I really wish we had a part where Tommy told Raven outright what was happening instead of her finding out in the worst possible way. I wish that section had gone a whole different direction.
Before anything else, there is a lot of diversity in this book. From the family dynamic, to the lgbtqiap rep, all the way to the Raven and Tommy being a biracial “couple” (it was never stated they were a couple, but they went on multiple dates). Even outside of that, we see the school cliques from the mean girls, to the struggling jock, to the bullied, we see a lot of different dynamics and diversity!
Also, one quick side note, I loved the artwork Gabriel Picolo did for this graphic novel. Each page is stunning and captures the mood of the whole story. It was just so stunning and I think Picolo did a marvelous with the color pallet and bringing this whole world to life. While I have never seen any other works by Picolo, this has prompted me to go look at other graphic novels they may have worked on or to track them down via social media. They truly did an outstanding job and think a lot of readers will fall in love with Picolo’s work after reading this graphic novel.
Without going into too much detail, I’m glad that the author brought in Trigon. He’s one of the biggest pieces of Raven’s backstory and I loved every second he was brought up. I wish we had more scenes with him. To sum up Trigon, he basically the most powerful villain in all of the DC comics, he enslaved many worlds, and he in the most intense being out of all the DC villains. So I really wish we had more panels of him or we got to see a little more of his possessive nature towards Raven.
Out of all the wonderful things this graphic novel does offer for any fan of Raven or Teen Titans, there was one thing that kept me from fully loving this graphic novel. While I love the romance, the story-line itself was underwhelming. It felt like so much more could have been done to cause more action or really play to Trigon’s true nature. The romance felt like it was overshadowing any opportunity for there to be more intense scenes or to show more of Trigon’s personality/intentions. I feel like many readers who have followed the DC comics or even Teen Titans will feel underwhelmed by the small amount of Trigon panels to the lack of action or suspense in this graphic novel.
Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel. I think this is a great graphic novel for readers who aren’t familiar with Teen Titans, DC comics, or just the general characters. It’s a perfect introduction to those who do love Teen Titans, but has never gotten into anything past the t.v. shows. Even if you are a fan, I would still recommend reading this graphic novel. It was very well written by an author who actually poured their love and knowledge of this character into a book to bring it to life. And the artwork sets the mood perfectly! Honestly, the snippet of Kami’s next book in this series, in the back of this book, Beast Boy can’t get here soon enough! This graphic novel is sure to make everyone excited for the next!
“With power born from the earth and our ancestors, we call forth ties strong enough to bind this demon.”