By Kelly Gaines
Leave it to an ex-demon wife to bring her drama to someone else’s funeral. Raven’s estranged mother, Angela, has returned- and become an extra layer of irritation on an already messy plot. After #3, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep reading Raven. History keeps underwhelmingly repeating itself in Wolfman’s recent Raven stories. There’s a promising start, followed by a slow aggravating decline into boredom. You’d think having roughly four interlocking storylines would give readers something to come back for, but none of the plots are explored with enough depth and detail to make them interesting. Instead, the whole thing feels like reading a loosely related anthology of stories about Raven. I will say that issue #4 is a slight step up from issue #3, but Raven Daughter of Darkness has miles to go before becoming a worthwhile series.
Let’s talk plot; where are we now with Raven, Aunt Alice, and Creepy Big Eyes Girl? Raven attends the funeral for her friend’s grandmother. Despite the devastating buildup of what this death could mean, and Raven’s initial compassion is clouded by Angela’s arrival at the funeral. I’ll be blunt with this point- Angela sucks. Angela is the worst. She shows up at her daughter’s new friend’s grandmother’s funeral, makes a big scene about how her sister worships a “fairytale god,” and pulls Raven completely out of the moment- a moment where her friends need her. When they arrive home, Angela dissolves into a puddle of self-pity, blaming Alice and their deceased parents for her “tortured” life. I hate to break it to you Ang, but they didn’t make you run off with a demon. In a way, Angela is everything Raven is not. She openly blames others for her misfortune and uses it as an excuse for shitty behavior.
What part of that makes her think she’s a fit parent for Raven? God (fairytale version or otherwise) only knows. She shows up to play the hero for her poor daughter, only to be told that the life she’s trying to save Raven from may actually be the best thing for her. Alice says it best when she tells Angela, “You could believe in the devil, but not in god.” It’s an infuriatingly good point. Angela felt out of step with her Christian family and did not believe in god, so she rebelled via drugs and sex, and when that wasn’t enough- she ran out and found herself a demon baby daddy. Fine, whatever, shit happens. But Angela never questions her new beliefs. She lives through apparent torment and still calls her loving family the bad guys. Raven gives us a look into Angela’s memories, and it’s a classic rebelling against mommy and daddy story. I don’t see anything severe enough for Angela to talk about her upbringing the way she does, and this is coming from someone who did grow up in an extremely religious household with opposing beliefs. Angela’s family, Alice included, thus far seem like decent people. Angela is whiny in the worst way.
This is a great place to mention one of my first problems with this issue. Raven taps into her mother’s mind, and experiences her memories with her, just as we do. I saw mediocrity, but apparently, Raven was moved by her mother’s very ABC Family Drama teenage years. The two (who by the way are calmly leaving the scene of an attempt on their lives) cry, hug, and level with each other. How sweet. Except it doesn’t make sense. What did Raven get out of those memories that I didn’t? If I can be counted as the average reader, the whole situation just doesn’t play the way the characters react to it. That’s a reoccurring problem within the series. Things happen, and characters react, but the puzzle pieces don’t fit. There is calm where there should be anger, tears where there should be indifference, and flurries of nonsensical and poorly explained events. At times, it just feels like bad writing. Raven is an empath. To successfully write a character who draws power from emotions, the emotions must be well written. I’m still not getting it here, never mind the other overlapping plot points.
My impression as of Raven Daughter of Darkness #4 is the same as it’s been for a few issues now. There’s too much noise and not enough substance. There’s so much going on without exploration that the whole thing starts to feel disconnected and uninteresting. I love Raven, and Angela presents a perfect opportunity to explore sides of her we don’t often see. I can’t say I’m optimistic, but issue #4 was slightly more readable than #3, so maybe there is hope. We’ll have to pray to Alice’s fairytale god.
Raven: Daughter of Darkness #4