We’ve now caught up to the series with the next two issues in Raven: The Pirate Princess. If you’d like a review of the most recent issue, #7, you can read my review here. For now, let’s see how our favorite half-elf is faring under the sea.
Issue #5: The Kiss
a.k.a “lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice”
This issue begins on the mysterious island where Sunshine has found herself after landing in the drink. Why is she here? Who is this queen? It’s been a month, what’s she been up to? No time for all that! We have to use the Mirror of Galad…I mean Ursula’s Cauld…no I mean Queen Pavarti’s scrying pool to check on our friends back on the ship.
There, Ximena is angsting over her relationship with Raven after the loss of sunshine. The rest of the crew is taking part in a pullup contest between Raven and Katie, which Raven wins with gusto. She and Ximena are gay for a while until Ximena drops the bombshell: she wants to learn to fight. Their eventual near-kiss (there’s so many of those in this comic) is ruined by a lighting strike! But it is not the sea being moved by Sunshine’s antipathy towards Ximena, but by her own magic! Which she now has. The scene shifts back to the mysterious island where the irate queen casts Sunshine out of her palace for her inadvertent magic use. She mopes on a bench until she judo flips a mysterious girl, who asks her to dance.
Returning to the ship without the conceit of the mirror, the new drama is a poem that Dezzie has found. The embarassing poem, read aloud to the crew, is addressed to Quinn, who angrily storms out after an impassioned speech about acceptance. But it turns out that the poem was written by Zoe. Finally confessing her affection for Quinn, the two finally kiss at the end of the issue.
I enjoyed the relationship drama of the issues, as I’ve largely resigned myself to this shift in focus for the comic. The art has shown a marked improvement from the last few issues, perhaps due to a more diversified art staff. The Zoe/Quinn relationship is perhaps my favorite out of all of them, with the perfect mix of angst and fluff without too much contrivance to accomplish either. The Sunshine/Ximena/Raven triangle, by contrast, is becoming more and more of a relic as Ximena and Raven get plenty of good moments while Sunshine whines about it.
The shift from the island to the ship is a strange one. We know Sunshine’s ok, but we don’t know anything about the month she’s spent on that island. We find out her side of things next issue, but for now it just seems kind of odd. Especially since it gets so little focus compared to the next issue.
Issue #6: The Heart of the Sea
a.k.a “Happy, huh?”
We finally find out where Sunshine is. She has been rescued by a gay mermaid, as if there is any other kind, and taken to the island of Queen Parvarti. Sunshine is part of the Queen’s “collection” of women rescued from death at sea. It’s sort of a Flying Dutchman but for women. Also not dead. Maybe.
In any case, Sunshine is acclimating very well to the island thanks to Ananda, the girl she flipped last issue. The two go dancing, share dinner, and have a flirty time in Ananda’s garden. They share their origins and bond atop a romantic waterfall. It all seems idyllic. But when night falls, a gap appears. Ananda is not just a kind soul here to help. She was in fact sent to Sunshine by Queen Pavarti. A spy? A genuine attempt to help them both? Sunshine, and the reader, is unsure.
I had much less to recap this issue as there just wasn’t so much. This is one of those slowed down issues, where it’s very talky and introspective. As I alluded to, this really should have swapped with the last issue. I love flashbacks, but when its such a short time as this it may as well have just happened.
In-issue, Sunshine’s internal monologue is hilarious as much as it is heartfelt. I loved how she shut down whenever someone pretty looked at her or kissed her. Her emotions seem to be a bit scattered as she shifts from sad to in-love to happy and worried over the space of a few hours. Ananda is kind of bland, sadly, but she’s sweet enough that she’ll be able to fill her role helping Sunshine heal with gusto.
The biggest quibble is the thus far unaddressed issue of the Queen’s “collection.” I commend Raven for not going the Steven Universe route and making the literal ownership of people some kind of fun quirk as opposed to something worrying, but it’s only very briefly touched on as a problem. I know it’s not dealt with next issue, but there’s still time.
The only big problem with these issues is the order of them. Issue #5 doesn’t justify the scenes with Sunshine outside of a Little Mermaid shout out and a way to yet again interrupt Ximena and Raven’s kiss. Plus, the story about the island is so much cooler than the relatively mundane drama on the ship. Why would I care about a high-school drama about misplaced poems, albeit a well done one, when there’s an ISLAND OF MAGIC GAY MERMAIDS! Like, that is such a neat idea and there’s so many places it can go. But, inevitably, we’ll be back on the ship next issue to continue the dating drama.
These issues also confirm my fears that there’s a long lull happening in this part of Year 2, which will reach its zenith in the doldrums of Issue #7. However, the character writing from Whitley is still top tier, and I really do find myself enjoying the fights, make-ups, near-kisses, and snark coming out of the characters. I just kind of wish the adventure of it all got more attention.