If you’ve read the young adult graphic novel “Teen Titans: Raven,” then you have some idea how good “Teen Titans: Beast Boy,” by the same writer-artist team, can be. If you haven’t read “Raven,” now’s a good time to get both books.
“Beast Boy” (DC Comics, $16.99), currently on sale, is by writer Kami Garcia and artist Gabriel Picolo, just like “Raven.” Only last time the team tackled Garcia’s favorite Teen Titan, while this go-round it was Picolo’s turn to enjoy his favorite Titan.
And it was my turn to ask Garcia some questions via e-mail.
“I can honestly say I’ve been a DC Comics fan for a long time,” she wrote. “The idea that anyone could be a hero regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation (or, in the case of some of the Teen Titans, species) has always resonated with me. I’m the kind of person who roots for the underdog and who believes in magic, miracles and the impossible.”
She also didn’t feel limited to what the comics canon said was Raven’s back story.
“I had the honor of meeting Marv Wolfman, the co-creator of Raven, Cyborg and Starfire from the Teen Titans,” she wrote. “I wasn’t sure how a legend like Marv would feel about me creating a new story for Raven, one of his most beloved characters. I asked for advice. ... Marv’s advice was to do what I wanted and make the character my own.”
And she did. Set in New Orleans, “Raven” created a mostly new history for the character. But it was still the Raven we know from the comics — a teenage girl dealt a bad hand, who must keep her emotions in check, who is pursued by both her father, the demon Trigon, and the man we know to be Deathstroke, Slade Wilson.
A bit of old, a bit of new. And all of it works.
That’s also the case with “Beast Boy.” Here’s a Garfield Logan before he discovers his transmutation powers. But one who starts out, just like his comics counterpart in the early 1960s, too brash, too impulsive and a little too shallow.
He is assisted, more or less, by his parents — who are wildly different from their comics counterparts. Who are dead.
“DC wanted a series that focused on the teen side of the characters in a grounded way so I wanted the characters to be relatable.” Garcia wrote. “Lots of teens face tensions at home, so I wanted to explore that in the graphic novel. We will hear more about them at some point.”
Which is good to know. Because these two may have saved Gar’s life from the tropical disease Sakutia like in the comics, they aren’t exactly what they say they are. In fact, they’ve been lying to him all his life. What are they hiding? Are they really his parents?
Those questions still linger as Garcia & Picolo head into their third Titans project: “Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven.”
These are YA books, and I am not the target market. That I enjoyed them anyway is indicative of how well they are crafted. Whether you’re a veteran Titans fan or a newbie, these books should be on your radar.