December 12, 2014

Raven the Navajo Teen Titan

Branding shmanding, ‘Teen Titans: Earth One’ is pretty good

By J. Caleb MozzoccoThe new, rebooted version of the Teen Titans that Lemire and the Dodsons came up with for their Earth One graphic novel is really good, fairly compelling, true to the original spirit of the characters involved (if not the original Teen Titans concept; this is based on the Marv Wolfman/George Perez team) and conceivably of interest to a wider audience than DC diehards.

Lemire uses the most basic of elements of the Wolfman/Perez era—Raven helping to gather young heroes, alien Starfire arriving on Earth—as a catalyst for a story involving super-powered teenagers coming together as a team. The cast is confined almost entirely to those created by Wolfman and Perez—Cyborg, Tara, Jericho and the aforementioned Raven and Starfire—with the exception of Arnold Drake and Bob Brown’s Garfield Logan (here codenamed Changeling), who, like Dick Grayson, Wally West and Donna Troy, was among the preexisting characters folded into Wolfman and Perez’s Titans comics.

The characters are all rather closely related, which gives the book a perhaps claustrophobic feel—you’d only need about a half-dozen locations to shoot this as the TV pilot it reads so much like—but is also a more economical way to introduce and bind them together, and one denied Wolfman when he was writing his original version within the confines of a monthly comic.

Navajo 16-year-old shaman-in-training Raven has begun having strange dreams of a distressed alien family that apparently fell to Earth and found by mysterious, semi-sinister government types, all with names familiar to longtime DC readers (Slade, Markov, Dayton, Rita).

Teen Titans: Earth One

By Nightwing17Mixing a dash of X-Men and more than a hint of Runaways into the classic Wolfman/Perez formula, Teen Titans: Earth One introduces us to four teenagers growing up in Monument, Oregon when the emergence of strange powers and visions of a buried secret bring them together. Their visions are shared by Raven, another girl, living in New Mexico with her grandfather.And:Speaking of Raven, It was pretty cool to recast Raven as a Navajo, however I don’t know that you can honestly say that her heritage is relevant for any reason other than to lampshade her powers and give her access to one of those wise Navajo grandfathers who are always happy to instruct you in ‘the old ways’. It’s restrained enough to be considered frustrating rather than out and out offensive, but it would have been really nice to see the story actually reflect something about Navajo culture instead of regurgitating unhelpful white guilt and stereotypes. Well, maybe we’ll do better in that regard next time.

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