Lets skip to the point. DC’s Raven mini-series is one of the most interesting reintroductions to a classic character I’ve read in a long time, and, given DC’s current “Rebirth” initiative, that should mean something. Five issues in, Raven has utterly eschewed the clichés and formulas that has increasingly dominated the already assembly line genre of superheroes in recent years. And, while we’ve seen plenty of ‘indie’ superhero sensibility and failed returns by the same five writers we loved in the 80s and threw out in the 2000s, Marv Wolfman has proven he still has the chops, providing a story whose wild divergence from the norm is balanced by a feeling of classic superhero familiarity that has honestly felt lacking in many otherwise strong efforts.
All of that said, Raven #5 is a seemingly superfluous issue. Put simply, very, very little happens this issue and what does does an underwhelming job of justifying an entire issue. To be honest, the pacing is awkward at every level, from the overall miniseries to the layout of panels. That’s especially odd as the best argument for this chapter is that it provides suspense while introducing, and reintroducing, a couple of concepts to fine target the reader’s attention.
Among the most interesting ideas presented this week are a return to the question of Rachel and the Williams’ differing religiousities, an acknowledgment of other people’s unspoken pain. I also love how this story is effectively a play on The Blob/The Thing, the latter getting an explicit shout out while the other settles for a possible homage, but doesn’t try to take Raven completely into the realm of horror.
Allison Borges is nowhere to be seen this go around, turning things over entirely to Diogenes Neves. Neves is an able substitute and a name I’m happy to see on another one of my pulls, but I cannot say that this is his best work. As ever, the art is youthful an expressive, with an ease and comfort in the layouts, but there’s plenty of panels where faces look flat or uncanny. Luckily this trend disappears for the issue’s most dramatic moments, where it returns largely to Neves’ usual level of quality. Sad as it is to say, it feels like the art recognizes where the story is just treading water and puts in effort accordingly.
Raven #5 is, without a doubt, the weak link in this series. It lacks necessity or intrigue, serving as a repository for details needed to complete the story that wouldn’t fit elsewhere. Despite this, it’s still part of this odd and enjoyable miniseries and its weaknesses do not cancel out the strong choices that Marv Wolfman has made with the character, only distract from them. Uneven art from Diogenes Neves is still attractive art but it just feels like this issue was not given the level of time and polish that its siblings were. A lacking installment in an interesting series.