RetroFix: Chris Arrant & Ha Huy Hoang’s The Raven!

Note: Our RetroFix keeps on rolling. This time out, I partnered with frequent P:R artist Ha Huy Hoang to take on the 1940s Ace character of the Raven! – Chris A.

Who Is The Raven?

Detective sergeant Danny Dartin was frustrated by criminals who had enough money and influence to escape justice, so he put on a costume, becoming the Raven. He then went after those elusive criminals, taking their cash and redistributing it to the poor like Robin Hood. His focus eventually expanded to all criminals who somehow evaded justice. He found an on-again, off-again love interest in Lola Lash, the daughter of NYC’s police chief. At first, Lola was suspicious of his masked alter ego, but she eventually changed her views and started to aid him in secret (since her father wouldn’t have been happy if he knew). He had no powers but was a talented fighter and detective. His enemies include the Lizard. Raven used a pistol and kept a pocket knife concealed inside one of his sleeves.  – The Public Domain Super-Heroes Wiki

The RetroFix

Chris Arrant: Okay, excellent. Let’s talk for a bit about how we see a modern-day Raven, and what from the original should be carried over to the current day. I think the core elements of the Raven is that he’s a police detective who takes the law into his own hands as a superhero. Here’s an old comic of his: http://fourcolorshadows.blogspot.com/2010/06/raven-lightning-comics-1940.html

Visually, I think the only elements I’d keep is the mask (roughly) and the flowing Cape (maybe). The idea of him wearing a suit underneath is kind of cheesy, and he couldn’t wear his police outfit because people would recognize him. I like the Raven emblem on the head of the original one — maybe we can update that into a logo that’s vaguely like a police shield? Maybe the mask should be a helmet — like a futuristic version of what a SWAT team person would wear, without being too much like Judge Dredd.

What do you think?

Ha Huy Hoang: I agree with you on removing the suit and keeping the helmet. Though IMO the emblem on the head could go somewhere else instead of his head. Like his shoulder, make it into a shoulder patch like the Beast one I just submitted. With that in mind, I think he could wear a jacket, something sort of like a biker jacket like Ghost Rider, but simpler. The cape could be changed into a one-sided cape like Power Girl or Captain Marvel, but that’s debatable. One more idea is I’ve always liked the silhouette Batman makes every time he jumps up into the moon light, how about we make the cape somehow like that? I would also suggest a pair of leather gloves, it’ll go well with the jacket, and it’ll help him avoid leaving his finger prints everywhere, since he’s a policeman, he’ll think of that. He could wear a dark blue jeans and a normal pair of shoes, or, he could be wearing military like boots. What do you think? I’ll come up with some sketches and get back to you later.

Artist’s Initial Sketches & Notes

Hoang: I’m just trying some different shapes and ideas in these. I think we should stick with the boots and the shoulder patch, those things feel “cops” to me. I’m not so sure about the cape though. Also, I was thinking about a weapon, how about a club? The one that policemen use? I could try another one with the cape from the last reference you gave me, see how it turns out. Oh, and I was thinking about the character Raven from Teen Titans, she has the hood that sometimes looks like a raven’s head, what do you think? It doesn’t have to be the hood like Raven’s, but it could just be the jacket’s hood, making it sort of a hoodie, I think it’ll make him looks kinda like an urban hero. I also was thinking about knee caps, like SWAT’s.

Arrant: Wow, I really like these. Especially the the first and the last ones.  I think we need to keep a cape of some sort as a connection to the original costume, and I agree that the logo should go on the shoulder or the breast.

For a weapon to use, what about a baton? It’s like a club but is used as a stick. It has no blade, but is extendable and can be used as a stunweapon. And yes, I think kneepads would be important.

For the headpiece, instead of a hood what if we make the helmet you have in the first image look more “Raven”-like. Have the nosepiece hook down, and have the lens-eyes be tinted red or yellow.

Hoang: You’re right, I think I’m gonna go with the cape in the first image, the shape in last image. For the helmet, I thought about making it more Raven-like, but then I realized it’ll somehow resemble Gatchaman, wouldn’t it? I’ll try one version with my hood idea, see if you like it. I like the baton idea, it’s small and easy to keep it on his belt.

These are 2 more options. I guess the hood isn’t really working, unless you think otherwise. I forgot to put in the baton, I’ll put it in the final, may be around his thigh, or belt, I’m going with thigh, will be more “battle” looking, while belt is pretty cliché.

Arrant: I like that first one best, but what do you think about changing the eyelets back to the circular sphere-looking things like in your 001.jpg file, image on the right. Kind of like the design for Cory Walker’s Invincible, but ours would be semi-transparent with maybe red or yellow coloration. As for the baton placement,  yes I like it attached to his thigh the way Daredevil has his stick attached. maybe in the illustration have it there, but then also have a diagram of it beside that shows it in its natural state, then images of it extended and then one of it glowing to simulate it being a “stun” baton.

Hoang: I agree with all you said here. I’ll make the eye bigger.

Final Version

15 comments on “RetroFix: Chris Arrant & Ha Huy Hoang’s The Raven!
  1. I like the original costume more. Simple, elegant suit. Only thing you must do is to redesign mask and cape.

  2. Yay, another retro-fix! :D
    I like/love everything about this save for the baton. It screams a little too violent super-cop to me and, and although I know he’s a cop behind the mask, I’d picture him using something less… crude. I’d picture him with some kind of net-gun or bolas or paralysing blow-darts.
    Anyway, aside from that minor quibble, love the logo, love the helmet, love everything. Excellent job, guys!

  3. I didn’t really care for this design at first, but it’s grown on me rather quickly. It helps that the original wasn’t especially strong. It’s often the case that a P:R redesign is dependent on the art style of the designer, but I can definitely picture this costume still working when drawn more realistically. My only real issue is with the loose cuffs, which don’t seem to suit the character or work with the rest of the costumer. I also think the baton gives him a bit too much of a fascist/oppressive cop air, unless that’s what you’re going for.

  4. Brilliant. I’m a sucker for SWAT style heroes, and I love a side cape. After reading the comments about Batman’s silhouette I wonder if maybe you could of played with the shape of the hem of the cape, making it wing shaped or hinting at feathers. Great work.

  5. Look! Into the alley! It’s a giraffe? It’s a crane? Andrew Garfield, maybe? No, it’s the Raven XD ;).

    I like the overall design very much, but I would, weapon-wise, stick to the original’s m.o. If he carried a gun and a concealed blade, why don’t respect that? Use a nice design gun, maybe a modular Mateba automatic revolver, easy to reload and fit with different ammo types, and a cool assassin’s creed style wrist blade. Also, I would have gone with a shorter, waist-lenght cape or a duster instead of the traditional Batman cape… I forgive it when it’s Batman, because, well, it’s, you know, the effing Batman and I grew up with him, but no street fighter would allow a cumbersome long cape like that to mess with his moves in real life ;). I’d love to try and do my own version of this, but it’s not the spirit of the blog. What’s yours is yours, and I respect that.

  6. Must…resist….Poe joke……

    I like it, overall. The lack of a belt does feel glaring-maybe a bandolier coming down from his off-cape shoulder? And longer gloves? That aside, it looks pretty decent.

  7. Really like the helmet, gives him more of a bird look than the original hood. The cape looks like it would be cumbersome and get in the way a lot, even in some of the action pics its already doing just that.

  8. He looks like a cop,which is kind of a mistake, since criminals who see him are gonna flag him for a cop and retaliate in kind. There isn’t much in the way of a disguise for his real job and I feel like that’s kind of a mistake

  9. Retro-fix is, hands down, the BEST thing on P:R! So much fun. In a perfect world, we could work our way through every character in the public domain.

  10. I love these retro-fixes, but this one missed the mark for me. The design left police detective/crime fighter and went into something a lot closer to SWAT team member with a cape. I would’ve liked to have seem the swat elements played down and maybe some of the superhero elements played up. The baton for instance does seem to fit the theme at first, but then it’s regular police fare.

    I would have played up the cape and cowl elements and moved the raven emblem to around the neck as a clasp. Then I’d let everything underneath be a sort of be black lightly armored low tech body suit. Keep the focus on the cape and cowl.

  11. It’s funny how many people seem to like the retro-fixes but also note how this one missed the mark. I feel they all miss the mark. They are all excellent drawings and designs but they also all make the same mistake.

    It feels like there is very little of the original characters in these retro-fixes. No one seems to look at and/or read up on the original character and get what makes them cool into the new version.

    Here for example, I am totally with Luke who seems to have the same mindset I do for the most part. The Raven needs to be more Detective and less SWAT/Special Forces looking. I also would’ve modified the cape and cowl to either merge with the newer helmet/mask design or sort of hide the helmet under the cowl.

    Again, cool design, nice looking art, but I know who The Raven was and this is a picture of a brand new character and not so much a modernization of the old one.

  12. I have to agree that the new design moves too far off the mark, and is more a different character with the same name than an update of the earlier character. When I clicked to get behind the cut, I was really expecting a pulp-y mystery-man treatment. The suit with mask is not at all “cheesy” – viz., Sandman.

  13. at first I was not liking how you wanted to throw out almost all of the golden age costume but I can see how the current version is better for now more like this is his son or grandson continuing his legacy. but I love the site

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