Since 2019, writer Kami Garcia and artist Gabriel Picolo have been slowly building a new universe for the Teen Titans, portraying them as average teens who suddenly discover their budding powers. The duo’s first two graphic novels have focused on Raven and Beast Boy, giving them solo stories freed from any previous continuity—and thereby allowing them to become distinct and fully realized people.
It was inevitable that the two characters would get caught in each other’s orbit, and Beast Boy Loves Raven feels like a welcome crossover despite how sudden it may feel within this latest universe. Though the pairing didn’t get the hard confirmation in the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon like Robin and Starfire did, that relationship still carries a lot of weight for fans—Garcia and Picolo included. As a result, their take on Gar Logan and Raven Roth’s romance feels real in a way that the show couldn’t really get around to, and the goth girl/goofball dynamic still works for these two heroes.
As quickly as they get together with each other and go on dates throughout Nashville, Gar and Raven both still have trust issues after the events of their respective books. Their inner thoughts are maybe too repetitive, but underscore how much they want to lay everything on the table despite not knowing the other person all that well. Picolo’s art does a lot in these quieter moments where Gar and Raven start to slowly open up to one another: There’s a guarded intimacy to their late night conversations that’ll remind longtime shippers why they got invested in the pairing to begin with. And when they finally realize what the other is capable of, there’s a sense of relief in the shared realization they could possibly inhabit this strange new life together. It’s hard not to fall for them as they start to fall for each other.
With an alliance between the teens all but guaranteed, it’s too bad that villains Slade and his ex-wife Adeline feel underdeveloped. Instead of coming across like legitimate threats who want superpowers for their own ends, they read as generic. Compared to the existential fears that Raven and Gar have about their abilities, it’s a shame that the external threats they face don’t amount to much in this book.
Slade’s inclusion in these books so far primarily serves to tee up other Titans, and in this case, it’s the current Robin, Damian Wayne. Garcia writes arguably the most charming version of the young Boy Wonder yet, and Picolo’s got a killer design for him, but his sudden arrival feels more like a pitch for next year’s solo book than a real inclusion into the story. Beast Boy Loves Raven’s focus returns to its star-crossed lovers by the end, but it feels like the larger plans for this universe may threaten the personal stories these talented comic artists have worked so hard to successfully build.