BatWatch Review: The Ravagers #12

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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.

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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.

Bat Droppings

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.

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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.

Conclusion 7/10

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.

More?

Hold Up! BatWatch is more than just comic book reviews. We also host News Articles, Commentary, and Image Galleries for the whole Bat Family. Stick around, check it out, and have some fun.

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Review: The Ravagers #11

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Home Wreckers

The Ravagers has been a heartbreaking series. Well, perhaps that an exaggeration, but it seems to deliver more disappointments than triumphs. At first, this was a product of the series failing to live up to its potential which largely stemmed from an apparent lack of team identity and a nonexistent focus on characters. Now, the series has both a point and an increased focus on its cast, but the series is still a major disappointment because it is now canceled. The next issue will be its last, and I don't see this series being revived anytime soon.

Last issue was one of the best so far. We learned that Ridge was actually just a kid, we saw Beast Boy and Terra finally get together after thirty years of tragedy in comics, and we saw Deathstroke apparently kill ridge and preparing to wipe out the rest of the team. Rose Wilson and Warblade are also in the mix, and they have an apparent opportunity to get away from the dark side and join the side of the angels now that Harvest has turned on the duo. With the series nearing its completion, might we finally see The Ravagers unified and Harvest destroyed? If so, the series has a lot of ground to cover. Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, the absurdly named supervillain, is also coming for a visit, and it will be interesting to see if they can make a such a silly sound villain formidable.

Does The Ravagers #11 prepare this series to go out with a bang, or is this issue just one more disappointment among so many others?

In this issue, The Ravagers engage in a four way battle between themselves, Deathstroke, Rose Wilson and Warblade, and Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I wanted a good end to this series, and that appears to be exactly what I'm getting.

This issue is nearly a non-stop battle, yet it rides smoothly with nary a bump, and it takes time to develop the characters. We even have several solid twists and turns along the way as this series seems determined not to make things too predictable.

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I can't think of the last time I've seen a four way battle in comic books. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen one. It's interesting because as new threats emerge, heroes and villains alike have to shift priorities, and the true loyalties of each character are revealed. It's a cool dynamic though Deathstroke takes the prize in this four way battle as being the number one threat which seems a bit of stretch to me. I mean, I know he's good, but is he so good that the combined might of all other parties could not overwhelm him? In this story, it appears like that is a real possibility.

Surprises Galore!

I know it appeared that Ridge had died in the last issue, but I didn't really figure it would stick, and it still might not, but Beast Boy reports smelling burnt flesh, and Ridge was never seen this issue. Also, The Chief was apparently killed by the Abeo Blade and burned up in a burst of fire. Now, there is always the possibility that there will be some work around. Perhaps this special blade manages to somehow entrap people. From a certain perspective, that actually seems likely for Harvest has never before been willing to kill the escaped Ravagers. In fact, he actually claimed it was part of his plan, so perhaps these death are just con on readers, but if this series actually killed off one of this series main characters and the leader of the Doom Patrol, that's pretty bold.

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(Spoilers) The natures of Rose Wilson and The Chief were also a surprise in this issue. The Chief was shown to be spying on Fairchild, keeping genetic experiments as guardians for his base, and cloning Fairchild for unknown purposes. Rose presumably led Warblade to The Ravagers hideout, and though she acts like her usual jaded self most of time, she changes dramatically as soon as she is alone with Fairchild showing a willingness to cooperate to take down Deathstroke, and she has an intimate knowledge of The Chief's base of operations. To me, the implication is that Rose has been working as a double agent for The Chief this entire time, but I'm not sure on that. For that matter, I am unsure what allegiance The Chief has to the forces of good for it is difficult to imagine a justification for cloning someone without their knowledge. Regardless though, I'm stoked to read the final chapter and discover the truth.

Bat Droppings

1. (Spoiler) After scanning through this issue again, I noticed that Rose was not acting friendly to Fairchild when they were alone at the beginning of this issue, so this makes Rose's actions even more confusing since that would have been a good time to reveal she was a double agent if that is indeed the case.

2. Warblade made me laugh this issue as usual.

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3. Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man played his role well in the story, but it would be nice to know his backstory. I do not think it would really fit into this issue, but if it is never disclosed, it will bug me.

4. Once again, Thunder's dialogue feels a bit stiff. “Don't worry sis – Nothing will tear us apart again!” Who says that?

5. This issue had two main artist do different sections of the book, and they both do a fine job. Just as importantly, their styles blended well with each other. This is how you should do it, Worlds' Finest.

6. (Spoilers) Warblade's warning to Fairchild to run speaks of a bond greater than just that of a partner in crime. It's nice they've finally showed that Warblade does care about somebody.

Conclusion 9/10

If you've been enjoying The Ravagers or you are a big fan of Deathstroke or Rose Wilson, you will want to pick up this issue. It does not look like The Ravagers will destroy NOWHERE before the series e----nds, but at least this team is going out on a high note.

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Review: The Ravagers #10

Women & Children First

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With his first issue on the series, #16, Michael Alan Nelson appeared to be bringing something fresh and new to The Ravagers, but then the next issue arrived, and it was really just more of the same with the exception of Warblade who under Nelson's writing has changed from a one dimensional villain to a hilarious pragmatic sociopath. The title still has more character than it seems to be able to handle, and the series soon coming end means that the characters will never get the chance to be fleshed out in this series. There are also several hinted plots on deck. Rose showed in the last two issues that she is not totally evil and might be redeemed. Deathstroke is rumored to be making an appearance. Finally, the annoyingly unimaginative villain Whatshisface (Harvest) realized that Rose and Warblade had defied his wishes, so he might be coming out for blood. Perhaps this series will end by turning Rose and Warblade to the side of good while having an epic battle to end Harvest. It's impossible to know without reading. Does this issue step things up a notch, or does it once again fail to deliver on its potential?

In this issue, Rose and Warblade have to fend off Harvest's attack while The Ravagers enjoy a pleasant day at home with more than a few surprises.

Bat Droppings

Well, crap! Just when the series starts to get good, the bloody thing is canceled. Ah well, such is life.

I'm doing this Bat Droppings style for the sake of time.

1. I do believe Harvest's face has changed colors. Is he wearing armor? Also, what the crap is he? I've been wondering since the beginning of The Culling, and it appears I will never know.

2. Deathstroke is indeed in this issue, and he has some weird Spidey Sense style lines above his left eye. Has that been a part of his DCNU costume this whole time because its a little odd? I'm not sure I hate it, but it's weird.

3. It seems pretty clear that this issue is rushing through plot points which were scripted to come about through a much longer process. Despite that, it's still rather fun.

4. It looks as if Rose and Warblade are indeed going to join up with The Ravagers. I know Warblade is talking about killing them, but I don't buy it. At least Rose will end up defecting. I am wondering when the last issue will be? I think next month should be the last, right? Isn't May when the new series are starting, so that means The Ravagers should wrap up next month, right?

5. I think I would actually be happy to see a Rose Wilson and Warblade series. They have good chemistry.

6. I wonder if Deathstroke knows that Harvest is toying with his daughter.

7. The Abeo Blade sounds really familiar, but I was not able to find anything about it. If anybody can identify it, let me know.

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8. I guess because I have read so many action focused comics over the last several months, I have developed a real soft spot in my heart for character based issues. I love that Nelson took the time to develop the characters in this issue.

9. The bit about the skunk was pretty amusing.

10. The bit about Ridge was extremely surprising. I cannot say I saw that coming.

11. Thunder clearly has those glowing lines on his face in that issue, and I am reasonably certain he did not at the beginning of the series. Is this an intentional change, a mistake, or artistic license?

12. I am not sure if this is more of a condemnation of me or the series, but I cannot even remember what happened to Lightning. I have not missed her; I can tell you that much.

13. The relaxing nature of the Ravagers conversation is a bit undercut by them wearing their costumes.

Spoilers until Conclusion

14. Ah, after thirty years or so, Beast Boy and Terra finally get a moment of happiness. It gives me warm fuzzies all over. Click Here if you would like to know more about their sordid past history.

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15. I am guessing that we are supposed to be assuming many months have passed since The Ravagers started really operating as a team, but it does feel a little awkward for the team to be acting all intimate and friendly when they were just barely starting to trust each other last time we saw them. Personally, I am willing to let this go since Nelson was clearly trying to get them to a nice finishing point for the series finale.

16. I do hope Ridge is still alive.

Conclusion 9/10

Like I already said, it sucks that this series is canceled now that it is just starting to get good. I wonder if this series could have thrived with Nelson at the helm. Regardless, this is a good issue worth purchasing if you are at all curious.

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Review: The Ravagers #9

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Fathers

I really enjoyed the last issue of The Ravagers which finally gave some development to two of the series lead antagonists, Rose Wilson and Warblade. At the end of the issue, The Ravagers finally appeared on the scene, and it looked like things were about to get cranked up a notch. The Ravagers might be a dead series walking right now, but perhaps it can deliver a few great issues before getting canceled. Does this series manage to get things right in its final days, or was last months' glimmer of hope nothing but a passing illusion.

In this issue, Fairchild tries to save Rose, Warblade takes on a new metahuman, and the rest of The Ravagers try to return the prodigal daughter.

Too Many Characters

I'm afraid this issue did not satisfy like the last, and the reason is pretty obvious, there are simply too many characters running around and doing too many things to give any one story any real development. The last issue worked because it was focused strictly on Rose and Warblade. When the rest of The Ravagers are added to the mix, it just dilutes the story too much and leaves the rest of the story a bit of a mess.

Half The Ravagers are just looking to kill Rose and Warblade which does not mesh well with the more important goal of saving the town. Rose is still holding a grudge against Fairchild though it is really difficult to understand why Rose cannot see she is working for someone who is pure evil. I can't tell if Rose is supposed to be under some spell or chemical hypnosis which makes her loyal to Harvest, but her whole motivation is confounding at this point. The plot arc about the local sheriff is handled fine, but it ends without any clear resolution. The entire nature of the plague is not clarified and it amounts to nothing more than fantasy nonsense. Two new metahumans are discovered in this issue, yet there is no clear explanation of their powers. The daughter in the story is a huge brat, and it feels like there really needed to be some explanation for why she was so unreasonable. I mean, this goes beyond usual teenage rebellion. A lot of these plot elements could have been good, but it all felt like it was rushed in this issue.

Warblade Is My Very Favorite Murderer

Warblade was definitely the high point of the issue. Whereas Rose kind of takes a backseat to the rest of The Ravagers and does nothing other than whine about betrayal, Warblade still showed some significant development; he is a very interesting character, and part of me would like to see him get his own series. He continues to be extremely funny, and he demonstrates some considerable intelligence as well.

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Teasing the Future

Solicits have made it clear that Deathstroke is coming in the next few issues, and after that, the series should soon be ending, (Spoiler) but it was interesting that the arc ended by implying that Harvest would turn on Rose and Warblade. I am not a fan of Harvest as a villain, but at the same time, it would give me some resolution if he were killed in the final arc of the story.

Conclusion 7/10

This issue maintains some good elements from the last, but it just feels watered down and rushed in its attempt to fit too many characters in too little space. If you are a big fan of The Ravagers or Warblade, you should pick it up, but everybody else might want to flip through some pages before laying down the cash.

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Review: The Ravagers #8

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Pray That Ye May Be Healed

For some reason, I find myself rooting for The Ravagers to succeed. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it is because in the Bat Family, The Ravagers is kind of like the estranged Bat Uncle that nobody remembers. Perhaps I feel sympathy for it because it actually showed a surprising amount of promise for being the product of such a crappy crossover. Perhaps I am just being a softy and wanting all series to be a success. Who knows? All I know is that I want The Ravagers to be a good comic, and it simply has not lived up to my hopes thus far.

The good news is that The Ravagers now has a chance to do break out of its rut with new series writer Michael Alan Nelson. (former writer for boom comic 28 Days Later) Hopefully, Nelson will be able to round out the story into something more substantive than the previous writer managed with a fairly consistent lack of character development or direction. Nelson has promised in interviews to focus on developing these neglected characters which is desperately needed, but he has decided to start in a weird place with his first arch centering around villains Rose Wilson and Warblade. The art in the book has been solid previously, but a new art team is on board to help Nelson tell his story and hopefully take things to the next level. Ig Guara Barros is the penciler (current artist on Blue Beetle) and Norm Rapmund (former illustrator on Booster Gold, current illustrator on Teen Titans)is taking care of inks. Does this new creative team take The Ravagers to the next level, or do they only succeed in sealing The Ravagers' fate as a failed experiment?

In this issue, a police officer has to deal with rebellious teenagers and a threat to his city, Ravager and Warblade make a mistake that might cost them their lives, and two kids make trouble for their poor father.

A Vast Improvement

When I review an issue, I analyze every aspect worth considering, but my final rating on any given issue is much more instinctual than analytical. I basically ask myself, “Do I care about what I just read?” and if I do care about the characters and events in a positive way, then the issue will get a good rating.

Do I care about the events of this issue? Yes, very much.

For the first time, the story actually slows down and feels out the consequences, both physical and interpersonal, of The Ravagers' actions. Rose and Warblade start the issue by trying to corral a Beta Ravager who is coming apart at the seams. They fail, the kid blows apart, and he spreads his infection to the rest of the populace. From here, the majority of the rest of the issue deals with the interactions between Rose, Warblade, and the local ranking police officer. Rose wants to save the town in order to contain the infection, Warblade wants to simply kill the populace for the same reason, and the officer is just trying to protect the townsfolk. Through the interaction of these three, the officer is established as an admirable character, Warblade is revealed to have a human side even if it only shows through humor, and Rose seems to be conflicted which is an important element of her character which has been all but completely ignored in previous issues. It is not clear to me whether Rose is completely mind controlled by Harvest or if she somehow believes that working for N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Serves the greater good, but either way, there is more to her than a mere killing machine.

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Bat Droppings

As best as I can recall, Beta Ravagers have never been mentioned previously. I could be forgetting, but these people who seem to be a Harvest experiment gone wrong might play an important role in the future.

There is a focus on two teenagers who clearly have metahuman abilities in this issue, and it should be interesting to see how these two are used. So far, The Ravagers has introduced many new characters with powers only to forget about them without using them for anything significant. I hope the new writer uses his supporting cast to greater effect.

The nature of this exploding plague is a bit sloppy. The story makes reference to some sort of radiation which is always a nice way to insert a plot device, but it felt like it could use just a smidge more attempt at thin justification.

The art team does a great job. The whole issue is vibrant and quite well done. My only complaint is that one panel looks really off. The panel where the brain exploding plague affects the girl laying down looks really strange. The facial features disappear to show the brain being affected which is okay, but the basic outline of the head is still wrong. I think the artist did not draw the lower half of the head to make the image of the brain clear...I don't know. It's looks off.

Rose stated goal of saving the city is nice and all, but she did not do much other than contain the populace. She talked as if she had a plan, yet she never provided it. Perhaps she was just trying to get them to stick around town so they would die without infecting any others.

Conclusion 9/10

It's not a perfect issue, but its much better than what we've been getting. I look forward to the next issue, and I recommend this one for anybody looking for a jumping on point.

Review: The Ravagers #7

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Ghosts of Future Present

Images will be added soon.

The Ravagers has been a mediocre series with promises of something great and hints of rot around the edges. Despite its lackluster record, I am actually quite excited to read this issue because the last two issues have been pushing the team in a new, more heroic direction. Also, the giant teaser at the end of the last issue which left The Ravagers facing Rose and Warblade is hard to resist. Will these two teams finally have a deciding clash over what it means to be a true Ravager, or will this epic battle end with a simper?

In this issue, a new player enters the arena and Fairchild’s Ravagers are either corrupted or killed.

The Ploy

Okay, I’m going to discuss something from this issue you will probably figure out if you have read many comics or you are fairly intelligent, but it technically comes in the back half, and I always try to avoid spoiling anything past the mid-point, so I am going to spoiler warning you on the next paragraph, but if you can see the obvious coming, there is really no reason not to read it.

This issue uses the classic dream/vision sequence ploy where we get an extended look at what might occur is presented as reality only to have it suddenly revealed that it was all just a dream. This is one of the most infuriating tropes of comic books, and it really needs to be dumped from the comic book writers’ toolbox.

As I said, you will see this coming from a mile away because the girl is clearly a precog, and the setup and delivery of the scene makes it obvious. This maneuver could be used to an okay effect if there is a significant revelation that came from the precog experience, but as best as I can tell, nothing has been revealed except that The Ravagers might go evil and cause great destruction for the sake of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. which was a fundamental premise of this story from the beginning, so what was the point of taking up half the issue revealing the obvious.

Furthermore, the action is undercut to deliver this vision of the future, and though Caitlin apparently changes the battle’s outcome, I do not see what she did to change things.

All in all, this trick just took away from the action and added nothing to the overarching story.

Caricatures of Characters

I enjoyed the last issue more than most in the series thus far because it actually took the time to develop some of the Ravagers as something more than warriors, but all that is lost on this issue. I do not believe Thunder talks throughout the whole issue, and at least half the characters say nothing really worth hearing. Terra is treated in this issue as if she has some important character development, but in reality, she has the exact same attitude she has displayed in other issues. Fairchild seems overwhelmed which has pretty much been her status since the beginning. Beast Boy is nice, Rose and Warblade are killers, and The Chief is at odds with Fairchild. Yawn.

Now Ridge is the one character who actually has some growth this issue. For one thing, he is pictured as having resisted the evil Ravagers and having died as a consequence, and it is surprising to see him as the lone, moral holdout. In addition, he seems to be the only who actually wants to think before acting which is not a side of him I really saw in earlier issues. He might have a worthwhile future.

 Beyond Ridge though, the characters seem to be stagnant, and I think the cause is pretty clear; there are too many characters to easily provide a conflict and character development for each. This cast is nearly ten characters weak. I think the creative team needs to drop a few and actually develop the ones they keep.

Good Old Fashioned Bloodshed

If you strip away the narrative trick in the first half of this issue, you are left with a pretty satisfying fight scene. It was nice to see Rose finally kill Superboy, and thought the battle was not as long, detailed, or relevant as I would like, it was still fairly entertaining. I was not crazy about Terra’s display in this issue, but it was visually satisfying.

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Bat Droppings

The precog is an interesting character. Since this series already has more characters than it can effectively manage, I do not want her to be a regular member, but I am sure she will pop up again, and I look forward to her reappearance.

(Spoiler) Apropo of nothing, Deathstroke appears at the end and we are told that the next issue will focus on Rose and Warblade. This is a mixed bag for me because I definitely think Warblade and Rose need some serious character development, and I do not mind taking a break from the Ravagers to learn more about them, but do we really need Deathstroke inserted into this mess? I know he is probably Rose’s father, but we have enough bad guys dancing around. If he does appear in the next issue, I hope he has a short tenure and will not be involved in The Ravagers regularly scheduled programming.

The art and dialogue is solid in this book.

On the small scale, it does everything right, but on the large scale, The Ravagers seems to be spinning its wheels.

Conclusion 7/10

This is the second book today I have trashed the whole review and then given a decent grade. Here’s the deal; The Ravagers does more things right than it does wrong. It’s only real failing is having to many irons in the fire at once. Much like Teen Titans, it needs to take a break from the action and focus on creating a tighter cast of characters. Until I know who these people are, I probably will never be too excited about their adventures. 

The Ravagers #6

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…Engage!

Though The Ravagers originally showed a lot of promise, it has developed into a lackluster series with no apparent point. However, the last issue set our heroes off in a new direction. Rather than merely escaping the clutches of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., The Ravagers vowed to dismantle the evil organization’s network piece by piece. Does The Ravagers thrive now that they have a mission, or is this a series that should be left classified?

In this issue, The Ravagers train as a team in their danger room, experiment with a little thing called freedom, and take on their first mission.

The Missing Ingredient?

I was surprised when Superboy joined the team in the last issue, and though the cynical part of me says he is only on the team in an attempt to shore up flagging sales numbers, I have to say that I could not be happier that he has joined The Ravagers ranks. Up until this point, the team dynamics often felt awkward, but Superboy’s presence seems to be helping.

Superboy helps the characters in a variety of ways. For Fairchild, he is someone she can trust and with whom she can share her feelings providing an avenue for some much needed character development. For the rest of the team, Superboy works as a symbol of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.’s oppression. This causes some always interesting internal conflict with the team, yet it also unites all the other members of the team in distrust of the newbie.

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Building The Ravagers

I did not expect this, but much of the issue resolved around very legitimate concerns about how to manage a team of teenage superheroes. Fairchild bonks heads with The Chief as the two take a sort of quasi-parental role in the teams’ life. Fairchild is more interested in nurturing them while The Chief just wants to train them for battle.

I found it very amusing that The Chief was consulting Tim Drake about the status of the team. The Teen Titans have been a very disorganized team thus far; as much as I love old school Tim, new school Tim would be about the last person I would want to talk to concerning team building.

Overall, I think Fairchild has the right idea for the team. Teens do shut down after a certain point of drilling, and though her trip taking the team into the regular everyday world might seem like a throwaway gesture to get some non-costume time for the characters, I think it underscores a very interesting and unexplored element of the team. These are teenagers who do not know how to be teenagers, and they need to know what freedom means. (Spoiler) Furthermore, I agree with Caitlin’s decision to stay Superboy’s hand by keeping him from winning the fight towards the end of the issue. The Ravagers needed to prove themselves capable of working and succeeding as a unit. If Superboy had mopped up the enemies for them, it would have probably undermined their confidence in themselves and increased their resentment of Superboy.

Conclusion 8/10

I am extremely excited about this series for the first time since issue #1. I am tempted to give this issue an even higher score, but it will need a little bit more consistency before it earns that prize. For the moment though, this is a great jumping on point for anybody who has been interested in giving The Ravagers a try.

Review: The Ravagers #5

Game Changer

The first issue of Ravagers started out stronger than I would have ever guessed a series spinning out from “The Culling” ever could be. Despite a strong start though, Ravagers has slowly devolved into a series of somewhat interesting heroes fighting a series of uninteresting and inconsequential foes. Since issue two, I've been longing for the series to establish some sort of purpose for the team, yet so far, they have failed to do so. Does Ravagers finally get to the point in this issue, or do we once again witness a series of mundane fights?

In this issue, The Ravagers check out their new base of operation, Fairchild does battle with Superboy to relieve some stress, and Thunder has an unexpected meltdown.

Finally!

The gods of mediocre comics have looked down on me in love and granted my request. It appears that The Ravagers finally have a reason to exist. By the end of this issue, The Ravagers learn that the metahuman processing colony where the team was trained and tortured is only one of over a dozen facilities worldwide, and they vow to free all the captured metahumans. While this is not the most original motivation for a team, it is not the most trite either, and since Teen Titans no longer seem concerned with N.O.W.H.E.R.E., there seems to be a need for such a team.

A New Team Member?

It appears that Superboy is joining The Ravagers ranks which is quite surprising to me. He already has a solo series and a spot on the Teen Titans. However, he dies fits well with the team since he was pretty much a Ravager already, but nonetheless, it seems DC is overexposing the character. On the other hand, maybe DC is trying to bolster low sales (this is pure speculation. I do not know DC’s sales numbers) by bringing a bigger name on board.

Ready? Fight!

As promised, the fight between Fairchild and Superboy was satisfying. I feared it would be stupid and unnecessary, but in reality, it was more of a sparring match than anything else. Still, it was fun to see these two titans in previously separate universes go head to head.

Someone Always Sounds Stupid

The dialogue always seems a bit off in this series. Usually, Thunder has been the culprit, but this time, I had no problem with him. On the other hand, Ridge ended this issue with a rather cringe worthy panel.

Conclusion 7/10

I am still skeptical of the series, but this issue has restored a little hope. Perhaps this direction is just what the series needed, and with a little luck, The Ravagers should improve from this point forward.

Review: The Ravagers #0

Day One

The Ravagers started off with a surprisingly large amount of promise, but is has since begun to whither as the series continues to produce throwaway villains and harp on the ever-present, yawn inducing NOWHERE which was already boring by the first couple issues of Teen Titans. Will this zero issue continue The Ravagers downward trend, or will it once again make me a believer that this can be a great series?

In this issue, we see the partial origins of the Ravagers codenamed Beast Boy and Terra. Captured by NOWHERE and experimented upon to produce metahuman abilities, Beast Boy and Terra are thrown into NOWHERE’s sprawling prison facility and forced to fight for their survival.

Mixed Nuts?

Once again, The Ravagers is a mixed bag with some good and some bad elements. The relationship between Beast Boy and Terra is good. The two have always had chemistry, and that is kept intact in this new incarnation of their characters though Terra does seem a bit more jaded than past versions. The art is mostly good though not exceptional. The fight scenes and dialogue are okay. Honestly, it is just an average title.

There is a moderate focus on NOWHERE throughout this issue, and we get many hints that the escaped Ravagers are especially important to the organization. This has the potential to be interesting, but I fear that it might be leading up to a less than stellar conclusion. I can see how The Ravagers importance could be something not all that exceptional such as, “These were the best of the best,” or something extremely convoluted like, “Some of these Ravagers will mate and produce me (Harvest) as their offspring therefore they must fight for evil so that I may be evil.” Their value to NOWHERE could lead to interesting places, but I am a bit skeptical as to how this entire NOWHERE plotline will develop.

Strange Behaviors

There were many odd occurrences in this issue which I chalk up to sloppy writing. For instance, we are given the impression that Beast Boy and Terra have just been dumped into the holding areas for potential Ravagers, yet they immediately call one of the other potential Ravagers by name and act as if they have a history even though they supposedly lost all their memories due to NOWHERE’s experimentation. Shortly after this scene, the plot jumps into the future without any warning. The only way you can tell that this scene occurs later is that one character has time for a wardrobe change. Another issue is that the Ravagers were shown in “The Culling” as being held in an immense underground cavern, yet in this issue, there are blue skies over The Ravagers’ heads. Finally, there are some odd design choices in terms of bizarre looking characters and odd environments such as the crazy looking pedestal in the first panel of the issue. I see beauty in utilitarian design, and I don’t think it serves much purpose to make menacing looking carvings on something which serves no purpose other than to hold down victims.

Conclusion    7/10

I enjoyed this issue, but the series still disappoints me in many areas. If I had to sum up this series in one sentence, I would say that it has sold me on its heroes, but I am still unmoved by its villains.

The Ravagers #4

Unchained

The Ravagers so far has been a pretty good series. There are definitely some problems with it, but overall, it has been a pleasant surprise. Does this issue continue to deliver quality entertainment, or is the quality of the series beginning to degrade?

In this issue, The Ravagers have been captured by the forces of Brother Blood, and Beast Boy and Terra mount a rescue.

Displeasure Rising

I am growing tired of this series. This is the forth issue, and The Ravagers are still bouncing around from conflict to conflict without any greater sense of direction. Brother Blood is fought in this issue, and by the end, we already have another battle staged with another heavy hitter. Non-stop action bores me.

Perhaps I would be less displeased with the pacing if we had a good reason for the different fights which keep occurring, but so far, the first two issues fights were the attempt of Harvest to drive away and then retrieve The Ravagers and the second two issues were focused on Brother Blood’s attempt to use the Ravagers to get to the every so cleverly named “Red Place.” We do not know why Brother Blood wants to get there or what the Red Place is. We do not know who Brother Blood’s mentor is. We do not know why The Ravagers blood is important. We do not know any of this going into the comic, and we do not know when we get done reading. It is time to start telling more cohesive and complete stories.

Mixed Bag

Beyond that, the rest of the issue was a mixed bag. The colors were very, very red this issue, and they kind of bored me. Brother Blood’s headpiece looked stupid. The dialogue was still a little off throughout the issue. Lightning was split from the rest of the team which is an odd choice considering she has barely had time to even be a member of the team. On the other hand, we got a good fight scene with The Ravagers

Unexpected Visitor

The Chief of Doom Patrol fame made an appearance in this issue. His pre-Flashpoint story gave him a dubious ethical nature, so it will be interesting to see if he is fighting on the side of the angels in the DCNU.

Conclusion 6/10

I started this series cynically, but I was impressed by the first issue, yet my cynicism has been growing ever since. There needs to be less action and more character development.

The Ravagers #3

I thought the first issue of this series was a pleasant surprise, but the second was not quite as good for it reintroduced the boring villain Harvest. Does the third issue of The Ravagers continue this downward trend, or does it elevate the series to a whole new level?

In this issue, Fairchild and The Ravagers are attacked by a group of cultists who worship the mysterious villain Brother Blood. In the meantime, Beast Boy and Terra try to survive on their own.

The Blood Harvest

I was glad to see that this issue was Harvest free. Brother Blood, as opposed to Harvest, is an interesting villain, and I especially enjoyed the dismissive disdain he held for his followers. I know the character existed in the old DC universe, but it appears that this is a new version of the character who, unlike previous incarnations, has the ability to put people under his thrall much like a classic vampire.

Good Times

In general, this issue was just fun, and I had a good time with it in spite of the fact that it was a pretty simple story. At the same time, I’m beginning to worry that The Ravagers will have a villain of the week without taking the time to develop the villains’ characters.

Awkward...

Thunder’s dialogue continues to be awkward, and speaking of awkward, there is a scene early on where Thunder and Lightning skinny dip together. Just in case you have forgotten, Thunder and Lightning are brother and sister. Gross much? I understand they are supposed to be close, but that is a little too close for comfort.

Conclusion 8/10

In the end, this is a pretty good comic because it is simply fun, but the jury is still out on this series as far as I am concerned.

The Ravagers #2

Shadows of the Past

I did not expect much from the pilot issue last month since I thought “The Culling” was a horrible story, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Ravagers’ first issue was good. I am very interested in seeing where the story is headed.

In this issue, we see how Fairchild and company managed to escape the arctic waters and return to dry land. After making it ashore, the team disassembles against Fairchild's wishes, but Thunder and Lightning are soon in need of help when they are caught by the dreaded Shadow Walker.

Harvest Time

This issue was good, but I had one big issue with it. It appears that Harvest is going to be the team’s main villain, and I hate Harvest. Even though there was an entire story arc about him, we still know virtually nothing about him. He is just a typical “Muah-hah-hah! I am going to take over the world!” villain. He says that it was always his plan for The Ravagers to escape, but what sort of plan is that? I fail to see how this would be any benefit to him. It is certainly possible that Mackie and Defalco know exactly what Harvest’s agenda is and how it will affect the Ravagers, but I fear Harvest might be used as nothing more than a plot device to throw different villains at The Ravagers. Time will tell, but at the moment, the continuation of Harvest leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

In addition, Thunder’s dialogue continues to be awkward. I do not know if this is being done intentionally, but it feels really off to me.

The Sunny Side

On the flip side, almost all of the strong points of the first issue return in the second. The characters continue to develop, and they are not cookie cutter characters that automatically decide to bond together for the good of humanity as is the case with some team books (I’m looking at you Teen Titans). Churchill’s art continues to be high quality, but I did find the first few pages to be a little off which might be due to the rain affect that was layered over the panels.

Shadow Walker

Shadow Walker was exactly the kind of villain needed for this stage. He managed to be menacing, but not so menacing that he would stop The Ravagers for long. His powers were interesting and his visual style worked well, but I am a little concerned that there might be too many fantastical elements in this series. I like for series to feel grounded in reality, yet we've encountered a lot of characters that look more than a tad bizarre in these first two issues.

Conclusion 7/10

If you enjoyed the first issue or the premise intrigues you, this is worth picking up, but Harvest makes me nervous. Hopefully, Mackie has a plan to develop Harvest into a fully formed villain.

Ravagers #1

Children of Destiny

The Ravagers is a brand new team and a brand new comic which developed as a spin-off from “The Culling” crossover between Legion Lost, Superboy, and Teen Titans. Wherein most of the series in the New 52 are simply continuations of old series or old series somewhat retooled, The Ravagers actually offers something new. Half the characters are brand new creations, and the other half appears to be a completely new take on old characters. The established characters are somewhat eclectic taking Beast Boy and Terra of Teen Titans fame and putting them under the leadership of Fairchild, the former leader of Gen 13 from the Wildstorm Universe. The tagline on the cover sums up the basic direction of the team pretty well. “Trained to become killers…can they become heroes?”

Before we get into this issue, let me give you my opinion of the elements which have shaped this series. First of all, “The Culling” was an ungodly mess. It was the worst arc in the Teen Titans series, a series which has already proven to be pretty bad in almost every issue. I have not read the entire arc, but I read all of the Teen Titans tie-ins and I read summaries of the rest. In essence, it was a soulless, pointless mash up of a ton of characters which had no good rationale or satisfying conclusion. I find it hard to believe that a good series could grow from this soil.

Regarding the characters in this book, I am familiar with Beast Boy and Ravager and to a lesser degree Terra. I’ve enjoyed all of their roles in the Teen Titans, and I look forward to seeing their new interpretations. I have done research on all of the other preexisting characters, and I find them all interesting. I think the chemistry exists for a good team book. Now all that remains is to see if The Ravagers can take that potential chemistry, overcome the stumbling block of the poorly written origin featured in “The Culling,” and make The Ravagers a success.

In this issue, The Ravagers manage to escape their underground prison and taste freedom, but they come to the surface in an arctic region of the world, and they remain unsure of how to get back to civilization. Fairchild tries to convince the teenagers to stick

together, but the teens have different ideas, and Rose Wilson and Warblade are intent on tracking down and killing all the escaped Ravagers.

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

The writer, Howard Mackie, was in a very difficult position for this first issue. “The Culling” ended with all the prisoners running off in different directions, and that meant that for The Ravagers first issue, Mackie had two choices. He could either pick up where “The Culling” left off which was a very confusing and chaotic situation in which his characters had no reason to stick together. The challenge in this approach is that it would be difficult to make a cohesive and believable team-based story from the mess left over from “The Culling.” On the other hand, Mackie could set the book a month or so after “The Culling” when the team is already formed, and he could then go back through flashbacks and gradually explain how the team was formed. The problem with this approach is that it would break up the flow of the narrative by constantly pulling readers away from the current plotline to try to explain the past.

Mackie took the first approach, and to his credit, he did a very good job. The issue starts off with the team going in different directions, and though Fairchild tries to pull the team together, most of them do not listen to her. Consequently, we do see key members of the cast take off, but that only serves to add intrigue as to how they will return to the team. Mackie clearly demonstrates that The Ravagers not going to be just another group of heroes. Some may have heroic aspirations, but others want nothing more than to be left alone. Others still seek undiluted vengeance. In a universe where every other team is either fighting for a noble cause or coerced into action, it will be good to see a team with less noble motivations.

More Praise

Many other things work well in The Ravagers. This issue features a host of characters most of which were given little chance to develop personalities in the story preceding, but Mackie does a great job of balancing a dozen different characters and revealing their personalities as the story unfolds. The art is also quite nice. Mackie lays a solid foundation for a great book, but only time will tell what structure goes on top of this foundation.

Needs Improvement

There were definitely some problems with this book. Though I generally liked the art and the story telling, there were some aspects of the story which were hard to follow. For instance, NOWHERE has been destroyed, so why are Warblade and Rose still interested in tracking down and killing The Ravagers? Apparently, Rose was exposed to some sort of mental conditioning by NOWHERE, and perhaps Warblade has had the same conditioning, but this still is not enough to justify the wanton murder. Really, this ties back into Lodbell’s poor writing which never gave a solid motivation for the leaders of NOWHERE in the first place, but I think Mackie should have done something to explain the villains motivation. The scene where Bright Eyes died was also quite confusing. Did Warblade stab her to death? Did the impact kill her? I read that scene a few times, but I could never piece it together. Finally, Rose managed to leap onto someone ahead of her who was moving faster than a plane. That is not confusing, but it does defy logic.

There were some other missteps. The dialogue between Thunder and Lightning was awkward and Beast Boy was drawn with a human head and an animal body at one point which is something I never care to see again.

Conclusion 8/10

I enjoyed this comic, and I look forward to the next one. It’s not perfect, but it has the potential to be very good.