Thanks to Partner NetGalley for the digital ARC of Kami Garcia’s Teen Titans: Raven, illustrated by Gabriel Picolo, in exchange for an honest review. The book released on July 2, 2019.
I know next to nothing about the Teen Titans, other than what I learned when watching of Teen Titans Go! to the Movies with my boys. Kami Garcia and illustrator Gabriel Picolo’s graphic novel Teen Titans: Raven does a beautiful job communicating the backstory of Raven . . . even to the uninitiated like me. Rachel Roth (also known as Raven) is a complex protagonist who has been stricken with amnesia after a car accident that killed her foster mother, Viviane Navarro. At first, the only hint about Raven’s powers is her declaration that she’s dangerous and her mother’s reassurance that she’s strong enough to handle herself. Then, the crash ends the conversation and Raven’s understanding of her identity.
Viviane’s sister Natalia and Natalia’s daughter Maxine take in Raven, supporting her as she struggles to recover her memories and her sense of self. She also balances the travails of high school, where she takes on mean girls, a romantic interest in Tommy Torres, . . . and a realization that she is hearing both strange voices and other people’s thoughts. Oh, and her shadow sometimes looks like a raven. The mystery of Raven’s past and powers grows as she comes to rely more on her new family, whose support and love for Raven was my favorite part of the book.
As Raven works to reconcile the slow emergence of her memory, the reader comes to know her snarky personality, sympathy for the underdog, and total girl power. The narrative is layered with humor, a respectful treatment of voodoo, and nods to the greater DC mythology. Garcia and Picolo have created a great merging of story and art, with the beautiful purple wash of the book providing a gorgeous reinforcement of the central story’s tone and as a nod to its protagonist. Solid graphic novel introduction to this superhero backstory.