Review – Raven: Daughter of Darkness #9: Rise of the Shadowriders

Comic Books DC This Week
Raven: Daughter of Darkness #9 cover, via DC Comics.

Raven: Daughter of Darkness #9 – Marv Wolfman, Writer; Pop Mhan, Artist; Lovern Kindzierski, Colorist

Ray – 8/10

Ray: As Marv Wolfman’s year-long Raven story enters its final act, we start to see the big implications of Baron Winters’ overall plot. He’s not creating a teen superhero team, he’s creating an army of shock troops against a threat that poses a danger to all of magic. This issue kicks that threat into high gear, as Raven is once again sent into battle to rescue a mage from the Shadow-Riders. That mage happens to be the wild card Black Alice, who instead of taking Raven’s rescue gracefully, steals her powers and briefly leaves her stranded at the reaper-like being’s mercy. Alice has never been the nicest of the teen heroes, but here she seems to be even more hard-edged than usual. Raven pulls off a narrow escape and then confronts Baron Winters about what she sees as yet another betrayal. To say this new Night Force is a bit dysfunctional would be putting it lightly – few members trust each other, one member doesn’t have any memories, and Winters himself seems to hate Zach Zatara.

But in the middle of this chaotic team-forming story is a pretty compelling narrative that reminds me a lot of teen-centric supernatural dramas like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Raven’s personal life and new family have taken a backseat in the last few issues due to her new cosmic responsibilities, but they come back in a big way this issue as it’s made clear that they haven’t disappeared just because she’s been teleported away. The biggest development this issue is the two-page spread revealing the origin of the Shadowriders. They’re not some sort of demons from another dimension – they’re an ancient fail-safe created by humanity against dark magic users, but they’ve gone rogue and started regarding every magic user as dangerous. There’s a parallel to the Manhunters here. This series started a bit slow, taking way too long to kick off Winters’ plot, but now that it’s going strong it’s the best use of Raven’s character in years.

Enter Black Alice. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: ::looks at page above and admires Mhan’s art::

Just look at that progression that draws the eyes first to Lori and then one of the Shadow-Riders. It almost sucks you into the corridor. The art is one of the main reasons to read this book. Even in quieter scenes, like Winters’ mansion, there is so much interesting detail in the backgrounds.

As for the story, yes, we’re in the endgame now but while we’ve established that Winters always lies, it gets a little frustrating as a reader to have the book constantly have Raven yelling that Winters is lying, Winters admitting he lies, and lather, rinse, repeat. I would like more forward progression with what is actually going on with the main plot, rather than Winters’ bits and pieces.

A piece does drop this week, with the origin of the Shadow-Riders. There is also Black Alice’s appearance, which is well done, but it seems somewhat late in the story to be introducing such a major character in the series. But still, the pacing seems very much of a hurry up and stop variety.

With three issues left, I’d hoped we’d be further along than this.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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