The Man Who Killed the Ravagers
The Ravagers is finally being retired. This poor series seemed doomed from the beginning. It spun off of the awful The Culling crossover, and though writer Howard Mackie (former writer of Ghost Rider) managed to keep the series from being a complete disaster, his work on the project distinctly lacked focus as if he himself did not know exactly what purpose The Ravagers would serve in the DCNU. It was not until Michael Alan Nelson (former writer of Boom's 28 Days Later and current writer of The Ravagers) took command of the writing duties that things really started to come together, but at that point, it was too little too late, and The Ravagers was canceled shortly thereafter.
Now, Nelson gets his chance to bring the series home, and he has created quite a few points of conflict for this final issue. Deathstroke seems to be killing the team one member at a time, Rose Wilson's loyalties are more in doubt than ever, and Caitlin Fairchild appears to be a clone. Considering the smalltime nature of many of the characters, it is not out of the question that Nelson could allow many of these short lived heroes to be killed, so this issue actually has some weight to it.
The time of judgment has arrived. Does The Ravagers finish strong or does its final issue justify its cancellation?
In this issue, The Ravagers continue to fall prey to Deathstroke and Fairchild confronts her clones.
For Those Avoiding Spoilers...
Everything I really want to talk about comes towards the end of this issue, but it is not really fair to talk exclusively about the end for any of you who might be trying to avoid spoilers, so let me talk in non-spoiler terms first.
Ravagers #12 delivers satisfying action which wraps up the immediate conflict of the series. Deathstroke faces off with our heroes, and the issue makes him into a truly menacing villain. All the characters who've had any real time to develop are well represented here especially Beast Boy who has at least one moment which will have you really rooting for him to tear Slade's face off. Fairchild and Rose Wilson's conflict is not handled quite as well with the duo's battle turning into little more than a brainless slug fest, but we do at least get some clarification on whether or not Fairchild is a clone.
The art is quite delicious in the first half as delivered by Diogenes Neves, (former penciler of Demon Knights and current penciler of The Ravagers and Superboy) but something changes around page twelve, and the art goes from looking great to looking...strained. Parts of the back half still look good and certain panels even look great, but other panels look ugly most notably the battle between Fairchild and her clones. I'm guessing that Neves ran into a time crunch and ended up rushing through some of the work.
To Be Continued... (Spoilers)
Reading the last issue of a series, you rather expect them to wrap up the story. Not so, saith The Ravagers.
What happened here is clear. DC editorial said, “This series might be dead, but we still have some stories we want to tell, so let's break this story off into three other titles. Fans will get to see the stories continue, and we will sell more comics for those who are determined to know what happens.”
All of that is reasonable and can almost be considered generous except that I did not particularly want to buy three other titles just to get a more satisfying resolution to the story.
We find out through an editorial box and Deathstroke's statements that the real Fairchild was killed in Team 7 #6 after Fairchild killed her father. What? First up, that seems like the sort of story which should have popped up in my weekly news searches for important Caitlin Fairchild news, but apparently, nobody talks much about Team 7 which is, of course, why the book is canceled, so this is news to me. Second, how am I possibly supposed to hear that and not want to read that issue?
The very last page of The Ravagers shows Raven approaching Beast Boy which is a scene we have already seen, more or less, in Teen Titans #19, so it appears that Beast Boy will indeed be joining the Teen Titans. I'm already following that series, so this is no big deal to me, but I'm imagining that would be very annoying to those who are not following the book. (Oh, and for those not following the book, don't bother. It is not very good)
Finally, I happen to know that Rose Wilson and Terra are crossing over with Deathstroke, so I guess I would have to read that to see the reckoning between those three characters. It might also be the only place where I could find out what happens with The Ravagers and NOWHERE.
The effort to continue these stories is fine, and I do not blame Michael Alan Nelson for this “conclusion” because I suspect it was an editorial mandate, but it is far from satisfying when so many plot lines are left dangling.
1. For the first time in quite a while, I kind of wanted to read Deathstroke just because he is so cool as he takes down The Ravagers.
(Spoilers until Conclusion)
2. Unless there is some hidden agenda in his actions, it does not make sense for Deathstroke to leave Beast Boy uncaptured. He could have easily stabbed him and sent him to Harvest even if he were already dying.
3. Since I knew Terra was in Deathstroke this week, it took all the tension out of the scene when I saw Terra stabbed because I knew with absolute certainty at that point that the Abeo blade did not kill people. By the way, I asked Michael Alan Nelson about the Abeo blade, and he told me it came from a work meaning, “To go away.” Not a bad name for a blade that teleports those stabbed.
4. Seeing Fairchild take apart disgusting clones of herself was just kind of gross.
5. This issue really needed a revelation about Harvest's agenda. He claimed he wanted The Ravagers to escape the entire time way back in The Culling, so this would have been a great moment to reveal, at least a tiny bit, his plan.
If you've been following the series, you will want to see it through to the end, but go in with moderate expectations. A lot of opportunities for this issue were left unused in effort to prolong the characters stories in other titles. Personally, I'll probably read those issue in Books-A-Million when they come out in trade.