Writer: Frank Tieri
Artists: Angel Unzueta & Guiu Vilanova
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Release date January 8 2020
Reviewed by D. Brown (WolfCypher)
Coming into Ruins of Ravencroft, I assumed these would be stories of the rebuilding of the asylum, or side-stories adding to the continuing Venom/Carnage/Knull lure. The latter was a obvious, safe bet, given that this story feels like an aftermath of the events from Absolute Carnage, where we saw Ravencroft burned to the ground. Ruins of Ravencroft’s inaugural 1st issue finds the likes of Misty Knight and John Jameson (both of which experienced hell during Absolute Carnage) and Wilson Fisk visiting the destroyed, soon-to-be-rebuilt grounds of Ravencroft Institute and discovering a unfounded darkness and secret history buried on its grounds.
Tieri takes us back to the pre-New York grounds of the 1400s and tells us a story of Cortland and Molly, two lovers whose lives spiral, from experiencing happiness to Molly’s sudden disappearance near cursed land, to Cortland’s mental transformation. This isn’t a pleasant tale with a happy ending, but one I really liked. Tieri explores the proto-concepts of Ravencroft Asylum, the Knull lore, and even the ancestry of a certain modern day supervillain and shows us how all of these pieces have always fit together even as far back as the 15th century. These have always been common elements intertwined with each other in most stories they’ve appeared in (taking place in the here-and-now 616 timeline), so to read Tieri’s going back in time, exploring these origins and make them work in the past made for a fun read.
This book is carried by two artist who bring two different styles into the comic, but for good reason, and to great effect. With the comic being told during two different time settings, I actually appreciated the different art styles used between the two stories. While my favorite of the art may have been the Guiu Vilanova pages, make no mistake; Angel Unzueta’s art was great! Unzueta made the most with what he had, given that the story he penciled didn’t have a lot of action or busyness going on. The present day story involved a lot of discussing and arguing between our modern era principle cast as the navigated the ruins and secret catacombs of Ravencroft, but Unzueta does a great service with the expressiveness of these characters during their interactions. Misty Knight’s disgust of Wilson Fisk can be seen in her face, as well as the arrogance of Fisk. Unzueta doesn’t get to draw the action sequences, but he gives it his all with these character interactions. As for the flashback story, I’m a sucker for when a visual medium tells a story during a certain time in history and the imagery nails the look and atmosphere of that era. Vilanova’s style nails that look very well.
This comic took me by surprise. Its storytelling and shifting imagery was top-notch, and I really felt this offered something worth adding to story it’s tying into, even after said story has ended. In fact, I felt a lot of the Absolute Carnage tie-ins didn’t offer anything to justify following them while reading the core books; so odd it is that with that event finished, we get a aftermath/follow-up story that is actually more engaging than most of the titles that tied into during its proceedings.
Absolute Carnage has ended, but the damage has been done, and we’re seeing a handful of books (Venom, Scream, Ruins of Ravencroft) experiencing the reverb of Carnage’s action. Its a great post-Absolute Carnage story, and I wonder if the following issues will reveal an even greater effect the histories and mysteries of Ravencroft might have on other areas of the Marvel Universe, beyond just Carnage and Knull.