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.
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.
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.