Writer: Frank Tieri
Artists: Angel Unzueta & Stefano Landini
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Covers: Gerardo Sandoval & Romulo Fajardo Jr.; Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Frank D’Armata
Release Date: January 22nd, 2020
A growing team of heroes have gathered at Ravencroft to uncover its mysteries. Will an aged journal give them answers or just more questions? Let’s sink our teeth into Frank Tieri’s RUINS OF RAVENCROFT: DRACULA #1 and find out!
The book opens with Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Falcon, and Winter Soldier joining Misty Knight, Mr. Fantastic, and Man-Wolf at the “Unwanted” door the latter three barely escaped from in the last issue of the series. They open the door ready for a fight only to find the room void of all the monstrosities it previously held. Then it’s story time with “Uncle Buck”, but not before Winter Soldier tough-talks the reader with a “Because I was there.” It’s not the only cornball moment from Frank Tieri; John Jameson’s “Still got to put my make-up on” before transforming probably taking the taco for worst.
It’s here where the issue jumps to the past, again using the journal of Jonas Ravencroft as narration. It’s a nice device and Tieri uses it well; the dialogue in the past is still hit or miss. We get some more history of the institution and some of its more infamous patients, including a bizarre Loki appearance that goes nowhere. The bulk of the story takes place in 1945, and although Dr. Essex has moved on, Jonas is now a pushover for the US government, who together with Baron Blood and— get this— DRACULA— are using Ravencroft’s patients as guinea pigs to cure vampires’ weaknesses.
Captain America and Bucky show up for a totally different reason— just to check on a friend of Cap’s with PTSD who hasn’t been heard from in some time. They split up, with Bucky finding the monstrosity Cap’s pal has become due to experimentations, and presumably putting him out of his misery. Meanwhile Cap stumbles upon Blood & company and ends up duking it out with Drac. Who by the way refers to himself in the third person like Ricky Henderson and loves appearing out of fog like a second-rate magician. Cue “The Final Countdown”!
Just as things are looking bad for Cap, Jonas unleashes the “Unwanted” Draculas, er, vampires, before blowing his brains out. The vamps tear through the baddies as Cap and Bucky escape, and it’s back to the present for new prisoner day at the updated Ravencroft. Also, Norman Osborn shows up as a consultant, because hey, why not throw in some more characters?
As for the art, the striking differences between Angel Unzueta’s modern day work and Stefano Landini’s flashback work make perfect sense in the context of the book. The unsung hero may be colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, whose faded tones for the flashback pages really fit the style of the story being told there.
RUINS OF RAVENCROFT: DRACULA #1 suffers from what plagued the first first two issues— the modern day story just isn’t that interesting. Unfortunately, this time the flashback story isn’t that great either. The vampire experimentations and monsters are cool but underused. The title baddie this issue comes off as an unthreatening ham actor. Simply put, the horror is not very horrific. If you were wondering if the series would be better as just a flashback, RUINS OF RAVENCROFT: DRACULA #1 may dissuade that thinking.