Warning: contains spoilers for Future State: Shazam! #2
In the ever-evolving melodrama of superhero stories, heroes become villains every day. One team infamous for this is the Teen Titans. From Dick Grayson’s time as Deathwing to Cyborg’s transformation into the moon devouring Technus, DC’s most famous group of young heroes are no strangers to villainy. If there’s one Titan who knows the pull of evil greater than any other DC hero, it is undoubtedly Raven. Though she has often been influenced by her demonic father, Trigon, she just became a villain even stronger than her father. Future State: Shazam! #2 sees Raven becomes DC’s most powerful villain.
The new comic from writer Tim Sheridan and artist Eduardo Pansica is actually the culmination of a trilogy of Future State titles. Previously, Future State: Flash and Future State: Teen Titans established that the Teen Titans accidentally unleashed the Four Riders of the Apocalypse and that Wally West had become the embodiment of famine itself. Though the Titans were eventually able to defeat the Four Riders, it came at a cost. Multiple titans had died in the fight, but worse than that was what became of Raven. The Teen Titans’ most powerful sorceress bound the four demons to herself. The surviving Titans quickly realized that just Raven’s presence was corrupting them, prompting Shazam to step up and take her to the one place where she would be safe. Shazam locked Raven in Hell.
Unfortunately, this didn’t just corrupt Raven, as she would need a guard to keep other demons out of her prison in the Rock of Eternity. Knowing that Shazam was needed on earth, Billy Batson agreed to permanently separate from the hero, leaving the former Captain Marvel an amoral shell of his former self. This eventually leads Shazam’s new team of heroes to become suspicious of him. After Shazam kills the Spectre, the new Question, actually Deadman in disguise, possesses the former hero and makes him say “Shazam,” finally merging Billy back with his other half… and leaving Raven unguarded. She breaks free without a moment’s hesitation, revealing her new form as the Unkindness.
It is a clever bit of writing naming Raven’s from the Unkindness, as that is the name for a group of Ravens. Though readers may not get to see the Unkindness in her full horror in the pages of Future State: Shazam! there is another group bearing that name present in Future State: Black Adam. There, the Unkindness is a combination of classic Shazam villains the Seven Deadly Sins and the magic-based villain group, the Lords of Chaos. While the two don’t appear to have much relation, Future State: Shazam! ends with a teaser that claims “The Unkindness returns in Future State: Black Adam,” meaning the connection might be deeper than first appearances would suggest.
As for her power, it’s no exaggeration to state that Raven as the Unkindness might very well be one of DC’s most powerful threats. Trigon’s demonic magic already put Raven a class above other magic users and combining that with the power of the Four Riders, makes her almost unstoppable. This is seemingly confirmed by the Unkindness which appears in Black Adam as they completely dismantle DC’s strongest hero, Superman Prime.
Regardless of her power level, it is disappointing to see another Titan fall to corruption. The Teen Titans have never had it rougher than they’ve had it in Future State. Between all the deaths and the two Titans who became riders themselves, the team just can’t catch a break. Hopefully the Teen Titans and Raven will see better times in Infinite Frontier.