Writer Kami Garcia and artist Gabriel Picolo have teamed up to create a trilogy of graphic novels featuring DC’s Teen Titans. Raven and Beast Boy each had a stand-alone, titular story before meeting up in this third volume, Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven.
The comic book publishing powerhouse began branching into middle grade graphic novels with the DC Super Hero Girls series for young readers, while exploring the YA demographic with the DC Ink line of graphic novels. The imprint released Mera: Tidebreaker, Catwoman: Under the Moon and Teen Titans: Raven but rebranded before releasing Teen Titans: Beast Boy, now just under the imprint DC.
The results of this rebranding and expansion into Young Adult graphic novels has yielded some amazing new work. This trilogy is no exception. The teenage superheroes gained popularity with the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! animated series. Beast Boy and Raven’s series has a ready-made audience of fans who enjoyed the animated series, but are ready for a more mature storyline.
Raven is Rachel “Raven” Roth, orphaned when her foster mother is killed in a car accident that robs the 17 year-old of her memory. Raven is taken in by her foster mother’s sister in New Orleans and has to navigate a new home, new high school, and her burgeoning mysterious powers. Raven is a half-demon—born of a witch and a powerful, evil demon named Trigon. Raven’s mother imprisoned Trigon in a crystal in order to protect her baby, but Trigon is determined to escape and claim his daughter, and her powers, as his own.
Teen Titans: Raven, excellently drawn in black and white with muted purple accents, is a story about a young woman finding herself, finding her power, and connecting with other women in her life. The climax of the story is an incredible battle between the living and the dead, with Raven recovering her lost memories and renewed purpose. She is also contacted by a mysterious character named Slade, who promises her he knows how to defeat Trigon once and for all.
Beast Boy is Logan Garfield, goofy high school senior, worried about his physical size, getting bullied, and his senior year bucket list. His parents are scientists researching vaccines for rare diseases. As a toddler, Logan contracted a rare illness. In an attempt to save him, his father used an experimental treatment involving a West African green monkey (the only animal immune to the disease). Teenage Logan’s parents give him a “supplement” for his illness that actually suppresses his pituitary gland (also inhibiting his physical development). After he ditches the pills, strange things begin happening.
Teen Titans: Beast Boy, also mostly drawn in black and white, with some green highlights, is a story about change and development, both physical and emotional. It’s about a young man faced with lies and unsure of whom to trust.
Unable to explain what’s happening to him, Logan is also contacted by Slade. Slade reveals that he worked with Logan’s parents at an organization called H.I.V.E. When Logan confronts his parents, he is horrified that they experimented on their child. Angry and distrustful, he runs away to meet Slade and find out the reality of his condition.
In Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven, the pair of teens are lured to Nashville by Slade Wilson, so of course, they cross paths. The pair remain unsure of who to trust but take a liking to each other. Unbeknownst to them, Raven has been followed to Nashville by her powerful foster sister, Max.
Slade’s plans include more than just Logan and Raven. Damian Wayne, son of Batman, also received a missive from the H.I.V.E. operative and shows up in Nashville. A dangerous trap is set as H.I.V.E. plans to use the teens (metahumans) for military experiments. The question is whether these young people can outwit Wilson and his boss, Adeline Kane.
Gabriel Picolo’s fresh take on teen superheroes started as fan art. His reimaginings gained so much attention online that DC took notice. This series features the heroes as real teens, casually dressed, and without a lot of superhero gear. From their t-shirts to their scuffed sneakers they are relatable and attractive.
Kami Garcia’s writing takes on each character’s origin story without a lot of exposition. She lets Picolo’s art do some of the heavy lifting. She doesn’t dumb down any of the comic characters’ histories, but she doesn’t drown the reader in obscure details or too much storytelling. There are some solid subplots. Logan frees animals from a lab, and gains a cute monkey companion. Raven falls for a boy, experiences her first kiss, and is crushed by his betrayal. Of course superheroes and the dangers they face can be metaphorical, but they represent real issues and problems faced by teenagers every day.
This series is a must for teen or young adult graphic novel collections. And adults (especially DC fans) will enjoy them, individually or together. The graphic novels are rated for teens 12+ and feature minimal violence, no sex, or drug use. They are a fast read and a fresh, exciting take on the teen superhero genre.
Teen Titans: Raven, Beast Boy and Beast Boy Loves Raven trilogy
By Kami Garcia
Art by Gabriel Picolo
Teen Titans: Raven ISBN: 9781401286231
Teen Titans: Beast Boy ISBN: 9781401287191
Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven ISBN: 9781779503862
Publisher Age Rating: 12+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)
Creator Representation: Brazilian