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Guest Post: Synopsis of DC’s Raven Vol 1 (Comic Book)

By Dandc_special_-_raven_1

I would like to thank the staff at Real Women of Gaming for giving me the opportunity to write a few words for them about comic books. As a fellow geek, I understand the powers these sacred tomes hold dear to us, in various ways. I don’t know if I pique enough interest in my digital correspondence to the world, but I’ve never been one for backing down in a request from a friend.

Given the task of writing about a comic book hasn’t been an easy one. I seriously thought about choosing a character I can associate myself with, going beyond the actual powers of said character and resonating with the story itself. Initially, there were a few I thought would be “flashy” or “neat,” but shortly after reading them, I didn’t quite feel the message of what the writers were trying to portray. Deciding I was thinking too hard about this, I’ve opted to go for a gut feeling.

DC Comic’s Raven, issue one, written by Wolfman, Borges and Blond.

First glance of the cover art, I felt a strong sense of nostalgia. Raven’s wings juxtaposed to a shining white light conveys a sense of apprehension in being a protector, torn between the fear she has of people knowing who she is (as the book she’s clutching is a foreshadowing of her father) and the good nature, which I presume comes from her mother, or even her, herself. Its pretty apparent from the age she’s drawn at, she’s in high school, which only further reinforces the fact that she’s going through turmoil. This instantly reminded me of the struggles I faced in school, having been a “weird(nerd)” kid in school, constantly carrying all of my textbooks, being made fun of, wondering if people really liked me (or only for my homework).

Upon reading, you’re immersed into being a typical teenager, who’s lost and trying to find their way in life. The story starts with Raven sent to live with her aunt’s religious suburbanite family. This doesn’t seem so bad, unless you’re the daughter of a prime evil demon and your very namesake would make Poe never quote you. She feels uneasy being around such nice people, even if they are her family, but she craves trying to be normal, still thinking what she’s doing is for the best. This ideology causes her to have conflict with herself and dreams of her father lash out at her. This scares her new family, but they understand from a “normal” perspective, trying to cheer her up and soothe her. Raven’s aunt tries to assure her, that she’s just like every other “normal” teenager, even if she’s the daughter of her “different” sister.

At “normal” school, we’re inferred that she can just basically feel emotions around her. She presses on, knowing that “normal” kids her age are struggling with problems, too, given by a two page spread showing the different thoughts that typical teens might have. She feels that she cannot fit in, but she’s quickly made the center of attention from a group of friends that basically realize she’s not like everyone else, causing an instant bond. However, one teen is not quite like the others, and in comic fashion causes Raven to react to help one of her new found friends. We’re given the idea that someone can use powers similar to Raven’s, although is much stronger and controlled in their powers, and left wondering who that person could be.

Comic Book Spotlight: Batgirl #1

Title: Batgirl #1
Writer: Hope Larson
Artists: Rafael Albuquerque
Published by DC Comics
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Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
A bit of history: the first post-Killing Joke-version of Batgirl that appeared about 5 years ago via “The New 52” was a no-nonsense woman dealing with recently getting back on her feet, and the after affects of PTSD. Then the powers that be did a bit of re-branding, making Barbara slightly younger, with a whole new outfit (which is far more visually striking) and suddenly she was worrying about her online presence, Instagram and her popularity as a superhero in a piece of the city called Burnside. That brings us to this new #1! Babs has left Burnside and is doing some globe-trotting, starting in Japan, specifically to meet an elderly ex-crimefighter, Chiyo Yamashiro, aka FRUIT BAT.

 

OK, so on her first day in Japan, Babs runs into her old friend Kai, who just happens to be her new roommate, coincidentally, on the other side of the world. Even though I love super-heroes being taken out of their comfort zone and into a new locale, in this issue, Kai sees a red-headed friend from Gotham, and then runs into a red-headed Vigilante from Gotham the next day? This is the bit where we as readers have to do some belief-suspension and just go along with it. This is a long-running super-hero trope that we just have to pretend not to notice. Or is it? Should we expect better from modern comics?

 

At any rate, the action soon ramps up when Kai is attacked by a bad-ass “school girl” and Babs has to jump in as Batgirl, only to have the aforementioned Fruit Bat take care of the kid herself. She deflects a knife-toss meant for her throat, sending it bouncing off a nearby drum and through the School Girl’s tie! Not bad for a lady 104 years in. Babs sees this and decides, as good as she is, she needs more training. Fruit Bat, clearly unable to take her on as a student, tells Batgirl to “find Teacher.” Before succumbing to a weak heart, imparts, “You can’t see the future when the past is standing in your way.” This, plus a billboard, lead our favorite ginger to the MMA Grand Prix in Singapore, and to issue #2.

 

Upon a second reading, I actually liked the mystical coincidences that popped up here, despite it reeking of cliched “Asian magicks.” I’ve always enjoyed when a crime-fighter needs to travel the world to learn different techniques. It gives the character a sense of having to actually work for their abilities, unlike in shows such as Arrow where it only takes the length of an episode to become a master of martial arts and cool weaponry.

The art by Rafael Albuquerque is sketchy yet fluid, kinetic but still solid. It’s a bucket of fun to look at, and the colors by Dave McCaig have a Pop-Art sensibility and don’t take themselves too seriously, if that makes sense. It’s a beautiful book, with a fun story, give it a shot!
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Be sure to visit Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex in Manayunk for great comics just like this one! Like them on Facebook here!
Note from the editor: This month’s Comic Spotlight was delayed due to conflicting schedules.

JD Reviews: The Legend of Wonder Woman

Writer, Pencils: Renae De Liz
Inker, Colorist, Letterer: Ray Dillon
Published by: DC Comics

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Review by: Johnny Destructo

The mythical island of Themyscira, home to the Amazons, is beset with a growing darkness, and the young Princess Diana is the only one who can feel it. That is, until she meets Alcippe.

I’ve been following Renae De Liz on the social medium, just because I came across her artwork and loved it. It’s been a fun ride, watching as her talent grew and as she announced that she would be working on a Wonder Woman title. I didn’t, however, know that she would be doing the writing as well as the art, and she nails both with ease.

This is a different approach to the Wonder Woman origin story (and I’m sure you will correct me if I’m mistaken, dear Internet), in that this is the first time I’ve seen a long-form version of Diana’s youth. The first 1/3 of the book is spent delivering the back-story of the Amazons, the Gods, Themyscira and setting up the mystery of Diana’s birth, then we jump to the young princess’ preadolescent years. Here we find a wistful, melancholic girl, set apart from her peers through the immemorial walls of birth and class. Other girls run and play while she ponders the growing sickness coursing through The Island, and mourns her inability to do anything about it. Diana feels the call of the sword and shield, but is set upon by her mother, Queen Hippolyta, to become a regal and peaceful princess.

Enter: Immortal Bad-ass Warrior Alcippe.

This is a very serious, almost Game Of Thrones-level take on the Warrior Princess we all know and love. This isn’t the Geoff Johns’ Justice League version of the character that seemed almost on the ditzy side. That WW felt more like a Michael Bay female character than I’m used to. By comparison, the Diana in this book is already wiser and more interesting. When this 9-issue series is all said and done, I look forward to handing customers a fully fleshed-out Wonder Woman story worthy of her royal origins.

JD can be found running his own comic shop in Manayunk, PA, called Johnny Destructo’s HERO COMPLEX, hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating/inking and Booking his Face off at facebook.com/jaydotdeedot.

Follow his twitter: @poptardsgo.