Ruins of Ravencroft is Marvel’s next mini-event and this one spills right out of Absolute Carnage. Considering it is focused on an insane asylum, spins out of the horror event of the decade, and has “Carnage” in the title, you know the opening salvo of the series is going to be all kinds of scary. That said, we all suffer from event fatigue by now and to jump right into another seems foolish. Thankfully, however, you’d be a fool not to read this first issue in the Ravencroft mini-event line.
This book opens with Misty Knight and John Jameson looking on as bulldozers take apart Ravencroft. We soon learn the building is going to be rebuilt with Mayor Kingpin running things. Not a good combo, but before the narrative can go deeper with the drama surrounding the new Ravencroft writer Frank Tieri takes us on a journey way back to the early 1400s. This is where the story goes from superhero cleanup to all-out horror goodness. If you like films like The Witch or Bone Tomahawk, you’re going to love this book. We’re essentially given a first-hand look at the origin of Ravencroft via the eyes of pilgrims, Native Americans, and the early settlers of New York. The story is dark, haunting, and isn’t shy when it comes to gore.
Tieri sets the mood quite well and that’s largely thanks to artist Guiu Vilanova and colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. Vilanova does a superb job drawing the native people at the time, capturing a haunting angle or two through the brush, and reminding us ancient evil is very real. There’s a standout full-page splash of cave drawings that will have you losing your mind. It not only looks like actual cave drawings, but it connects to Absolute Carnage in a very exciting way. It’s this flashback scene–which was smartly uninterrupted with the modern-day scenes–that will have folks talking. It not only captures the horror of the wilderness, the olden days, and ancient evil, but it’s relevant in a smart way to current characters.
My only gripe is the modern-day art by Angel Unzueta. It’s perfectly serviceable and admittedly Unzueta doesn’t have a lot to do beyond talking headshots, but it looks flat and a bit digital in its depiction fo the characters. They’re stiff and uninteresting. Hats off, though, to Unzueta’s final cliffhanger full-page splash which does capture a certain dank and dark horror.
Is it too early too mark this issue as the biggest surprise of 2020? We’re only two new comic book days in, but this blew me away as I was expecting another run of the mill mini-event. Tieri and the company have captured the horror of the natural ancient world impeccably well. This is an engaging, macabre horror story not to be missed.