52 Catch Up is a series devoted to looking at issues from DC’s New 52 and seeing how they’re faring now that they’re underway, why they’re worth reading (or not), and places we hope they will go in time.
After escaping from the top secret organization N.O.W.H.E.R.E., which tortured and experimented on them, a group of superpowered teens have to evade capture and figure out what’s next in their lives.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
Previously on The Ravagers: Covering Issues #1-4
The Ravagers #1 picks up where Teen Titans #9 left off. The Ravagers were the group of superpowered enforcers for the villain known as Harvest. Each of the Ravagers and the Ravagers in training were tortured and their abilities enhanced to make them better soldiers. After the Teen Titans and the Legion (from Legion Lost) broke out of Harvest’s base, a group of Ravagers and Ravagers in training escape led by Dr. Caitlin Fairchild, one of the scientists and secretly a metahuman herself.
Fairchild has a plan to get all of them to safety, but several of the kids immediately go off on their own. Terra and Beast Boy go in one direction while Brighteyes and Windshear go another. Brighteyes and Windshear don’t make it far before they are recaptured by two of Harvest’s agents, Rose and Warblade. The group which remained with Fairchild are confronted by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. soldiers. Though the soldiers lay down their arms and try to show they’re on their side, the teens give into their training and start to kill them to Farichild’s protests. Afterward, Fairchild’s escape plan, a former N.O.W.H.E.R.E. transport, crashes near them. From its remains come Warblade and Rose who start to kill many of the children, leaving only Lightning, Thunder, the former Ravager Ridge, and Fairchild alive. Thunder makes use of his power to create a chasm between them and Warblade and Rose and the group escapes into freezing water. With everyone else huddled on a chunk of ice, Ridge, who possesses a reptilelike form, uses his strength and endurance to swim them to safety. Once on dry land, Lightning and Thunder split off, but Thunder is captured by the Harvest agent Shadow Walker, who has the ability to track all of the Ravagers due to parts of him he added to each of their containment suits. Shadow Walker’s real target is Fairchild, so he has Lightning lead Fairchild and Ridge back to him in exchange for her brother; however, Thunder wakes up and starts to attack Shadow Walker before the transaction is completed. Ridge rips out the Shadow Walker parts from himself, Lightning, and Thunder and Lightning supercharges them before returning them to Shadow Walker, which takes him down.
The four of them then take a small reprieve in a warm pool of water, but they have little time to splash around before agents of the man known as Brother Blood arrive and attack before being joined by their master. Brother Blood is able to take away the pain of Lightning and Thunder’s implants, causing the two of them to be enamored with him. Fairchild and Ridge are frozen in place and captured. Lightning, Thunder, Fairchild, and Ridge are then taken to Brother Blood’s temple and chained to the wall. Brother Blood is attempting to open a door to the Red Place in order to free his master, but in order to do it, he needs sacrifices and the “key” which is supposedly one of the escaped Ravagers.
Meanwhile, Beast Boy starts to dream about Brother Blood, and the visions start to occur even when he’s awake. Beast Boy and Terra are running through the woods when they come across a group of Brother Blood’s agents ready to sacrifice children as part of his ritual to open a door to the Red Place. Beast Boy charges in and chases off several of Brother Blood’s agents, who he then follows back to an old church. Beast Boy can sense more people are beneath the church, so Terra rips the church out of the ground, exposing Brother Blood’s temple. Brother Blood and Beast Boy recognize one another immediately, as Brother Blood has been having the same visions that Beast Boy did. Hundreds of Brother Blood’s servants start to attack, and Thunder, Lightning, Ridge, and Fairchild are freed to fight. Thunder manages to shake off the mind effect from Brother Blood and gets his sister to come to her senses, as well. Though Fairchild once again insists no one has to die, Ridge says it’s kill or be killed. Some more of Brother Blood’s servants start to open the portal wider. Fairchild and the group suggest they leave, if one of them is the key then Brother Blood can’t complete the ritual without them. Not wanting to leave the job half-finished, Lightning charges in, tackles one of the servants, and dives into the portal, which closes it with an explosion, burying Brother Blood in the rubble. In need of shelter and a reprieve, Fairchild, Ridge, Thunder, Beast Boy, and Terra go to meet with another of Fairchild’s allies, Niles Caulder, but their conversation is cut short by Superboy, also a former Ravager, who wants to have a talk.
Character Designs: The Ravagers do not match the looks of other superhero teams. Whether it’s their black suits with colored lights, the implants they have attached to their bodies, or their hairdos, these characters stand out and their appearance says a lot about their personalities. This also applies to Harvest’s soldiers like Shadow Walker or Warblade, who fit in with the overall Ravager theme but with some drastic alterations to show they are full Ravagers not merely in training.
Ravager History: Get ready to buy a lot of backlog in order to understand what is going on. The Ravagers originated in Teen Titans, Superboy, and Legion Lost’s crossover event where both teams were captured by Harvest and tested to become Ravagers. A lot of side characters were introduced, and the team in The Ravagers consists of some of those characters after the Titans and the Legion bust out and give the others the opportunity to escape. Fairchild does an okay job of filling in this backstory with her narrative, but it’s such a confusing backstory that a lot of it still doesn’t make sense to me, and I actually read part of the crossover where they started.
And Now, Let’s Go Over Here!: These four issues have dropped a lot of hints at what will and won’t be important in the future, but so far it feels ADD and repetitive where Fairchild and company come across one of Harvest’s agents for X, Y, or Z reason, they fight them, are victorious, try to take a breather, rinse and repeat. I was behind Shadow Walker’s appearance; it makes perfect sense that Harvest’s tracker would come after them, but I’m still confused about where Brother Blood came from or why they’re telling this story, which feels so similar to the last few plot points. Also, how have they gone from a tundra to a spring-time forest in a handful of issues?
Murderers or Heroes?: The big moral question of The Ravagers is, when is it okay to kill? Since the first pages, Fairchild has been trying so hard to keep the others in check and keep them from killing, but without their childhood memories, death and pain is all these kids know. So far, there hasn’t been a lot of struggle for the others, but Fairchild is going to keep pushing on this point, so maybe the others will start to realize what she’s saying and make an effort to change.
Markings: I was wondering about the containment suits and the markings forever. They were finally addressed in Issue #3 as being grafted onto their skin, but there’s never any explanation as to why. Are they necessary to power some of their mutations, like Thunder and Lightning’s? Why would someone like Ridge have them? Furthermore, some characters, like Beast Boy, have few markings, which may or may not be on their skin but merely part of a suit as they were for the Teen Titans when they were with Harvest.
Beast Boy Prophet: Beast Boy’s visions make him an important character both when it comes to unraveling Harvest’s plan for them and because other powers, like Brother Blood, have a set use for him. From the looks of it, we’re going to get more Beast Boy as the chosen one-type plots going forward.
Who Let the Ravagers Out?: The ultimate mind-screw to the characters is the idea that the Teen Titans’ intervention and the escape of all of them is part of Harvest’s overall plan. If it is, what value can it possibly have for him and how fragile is it that Fairchild and Beast Boy have the ability to derail his plans?