She’s So Raven
Brother Blood: [blasting the Titans] “No! You stay away from me! You demon filth!”
Raven: “They’re not demons. Let me show you one. [transforms into her true form] Azarath Metrion Zinthos!” – Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
A serial killer stalks his newest victim. She wears a hoodie that keeps her from seeing him. The killer gets within arms reach and raises a dagger. He strikes, but the blade is stopped as black energy envelops it. The knife shatters as the girl turns, brushes purple hair from her face and looks the killer in the eye.
The killer feels someone in his mind. He remembers the people he has killed, the women, the girls, even the preschooler no one saw him take. And the killer realizes his newest victim now knows too. Four red eyes burn as a second set appears across her forehead. Her skin reddens to match. It is a long time before Raven lets him die.
Raven is one of DC’s darkest characters. Her appearance heralded the arrival of the demon lord Trigon, and with him, the apocalypse. She was instrumental in defending Earth and even assembled a new team called the Teen Titans.
So who is she? Where did she come from? What is her connection to Trigon? And will I use the nevermore joke you know I’ve written? Let’s find out.
Harbinger of the Apocalypse: Raven’s Backstory
Raven: “The ancient order used the name “Scath” to protect the true identity of their master. We know him… as Trigon.”
Cyborg: [stunned] “Are you serious? That’s who we’re up against? Oh, man.”
Starfire: “His cruelty is legendary, even on my world.”
Beast Boy: “So what makes you go all glowy in the dark?”
Raven: “It’s a warning. It means Trigon is coming and the way he gets here is through me. I’m not just a person, I’m a portal.”
Robin: “But Raven, why you?”
Raven: “Because… Trigon is my father.” – Teen Titans, “The Prophecy” (Season 4, Episode 7)
Raven first appeared in DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980. She was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
A rebellious woman named Angela joined a cult. She was chosen to participate in a ritual to summon the demon Trigon. To everyone’s surprise, the ritual worked, and Trigon appeared. Also to their surprise, Trigon slaughtered the cult and raped Angela. She managed to survive only to learn that Trigon impregnated her.
Angela was found by monks from a Shangri-La-esque dimension called Azarath. They helped deliver the half-demon baby, who was named Raven. The monks realized that Raven had inherited some of Trigon’s powers and trained her to suppress her emotions, thinking that would help her control the powers.
The training worked for a time, but Raven eventually lost emotional control. Trigon used her magic as a portal to invade Azarath. Raven lacked the strength to stop him and could not convince the pacifistic monks to defend themselves. She used her magic to escape to Earth, hoping to find someone who could help her stop him.
Titans Together: Raven’s History
Raven: [fighting Trigon] “You may have created me, but you were never my father. Fathers are kind. Fathers protect you. Fathers raise you. I was protected by the monks of Azarath. I was raised by my friends. They are my family, this is my home, and you are not welcome here! [Unleashing a spell to kill Trigon] Azarath Metrion ZINTHOS!” – Teen Titans, “The End” (Season 4, Episode 13)
Raven learned about the Justice League and immediately sought their help. The League refused when Zatanna sensed Raven’s demonic heritage. Raven then used her powers to assemble a team of sidekicks and teenaged heroes, forming the newest incarnation of the Teen Titans.
The Titans journeyed to Azarath and managed to defeat Trigon’s forces and sealed him away. Raven stayed on Earth with the Titans, guilty about manipulating them. The Titans helped her work through the guilt and even taught her how to control her emotions without suppressing them.
Trigon eventually escaped his prison and possessed Raven again. The Titans tried to get through to Raven and even recruited Angela for help, but Trigon was too strong. He destroyed Azarath, and the Titans were forced to kill Raven to stop him from using her as a portal and destroying Earth.
Their choice didn’t haunt them, though, because the Titans learned that the monks of Azarath had manipulated both sides and allowed themselves to die. The monks and other Azarath people used Raven as a mystic focus to kill Trigon and purify Raven. They resurrected her, and she rejoined the Titans, finally free from her father’s influence.
Suppressed Sorcery: Raven’s Powers and Personality
[Regrouping after fighting a villain’s army]
Cyborg: “City Hall. We should be able to hide here [slumps] until Mad Mod’s forces come to tear it down.”
Raven: [surprised] “Woah. That was actually more depressing than what I was going to say.” – Teen Titans, “Revolution” (Season 3, Episode 7)
Raven was relatively weak before her demonic powers manifested. She was capable of empathy, teleportation, and the ability to influence other people’s emotions. She eventually learned to summon her “Soul-self”, an enormous magical raven that represented her soul. This soul-self can defend Raven, trap enemies, and channel her magic.
Raven can also cast magic, including telekinesis, healing, portal creation, and flight in both human form and via the soul-self. Raven strengthens her magic by harnessing her emotions, but risks being possessed by Trigon when she does.
Raven is withdrawn and serious but can also snark. Her monastic training crippled her emotions and left her unable to understand or cope with them. The fear of unleashing Trigon complicates matters. Luckily, the Titans were able to coax Raven from her shell and help her gain control of her emotions.
The Actors who play Raven
Raven’s television debut was in Teen Titans with Emmy-nominee Tara Strong in the role. This version of Raven became so iconic that the comic version was revamped to be more in line with the cartoon version. Strong reprised the role for Teen Titans Go!, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, and DC Super Hero Girls.
American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga voiced Raven in Justice League vs. Teen Titans and its sequel Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. Raven next appears in Titans and is played by Teagan Croft, of Home and Away fame. And in the small world department, Robin actor Brenton Thwaites also appeared in that soap opera.
Didya Get All That?
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.