Lost Raven is a perplexing story that blends fantasy and real-world problems in a way that may intrigue some while turning others off. Zak Raven has just found out that he is HIV-positive, and his urban life as an attorney has just come to a halt. After quitting, he takes to his boat and sets sail into the ocean. A storm knocks him off course, and he awakes upon a deserted island - or at least one he thinks deserted. As he encounters the island’s inhabitants, he realizes something much bigger than his shipwreck is going on. Befriended by a small blue flying lizard, Zak tries to find answers while he is being stalked by more hostile elements on the island.
Someone else is also working to help Zak, a young military scientist who is part of a research crew that hastaken hold of the island to conduct various science experiments on humans to create mutant soldiers. Zak’s appearance could mean certain death for him, but she will do her best to keep him alive, even if it means disobeying orders.
Davis delivers a fun,exciting opening chapter to this ongoing series. Though sparse at times, the story teases readers along enough to prove worthy. With a heavy focus on action supplemented with scripted exposition in the form of journal entries, Davis maintains a good balance. The drawings are borderline cartoons with their bright colors, thick black silhouettes, and iconic appearances. This lightens up the book in a way that probably does not work to its benefit. When one weighs the cover art against the interior art, one realizes that this art does not do the darker tone of this book justice.
Using an HIV-positive protagonist has its benefits and drawbacks. Many who work hard to protect and assist people with HIV or who are more prone to acquire it may appreciate seeing a healthy, heroic, and constructive image of a person with HIV. Zak shows no signs of being sick or even suffering from the self-loathing that may occur. However, others may feel this is just a practice of tokenism. In future volumes this may be further addressed, but creating a hero with HIV (or any other approach to adequately presenting misrepresented minorities) means that the hero must be believable and consciously deal with that element of identity. One of the more grievous issues within the main publishers of superhero comics (DC and Marvel Comics) is that with so many of their early portrayals of minorities, the heroes were not genuine or did not really represent the serious struggles faced by minorities (granted, these were usually written by middle-aged white men).
Lost Raven is a fun beginning to what may prove an interesting series. However, it should be noted that part of the proceeds of this book will go to the Evergreen AIDS Foundation—proving that if nothing else, this book can make some difference.