Writer: Frank Tieri
Art: Angel Unzueta, Rachelle Rosenberg, Dono Sánchez-Almara, VC’s Joe Sabino, Kyle Hotz, and Dan Brown
Release Date: January 29th, 2020
As ABSOLUTE CARNAGE came to an end, Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane was also demolished. But now, Kingpin, as well as some very generous financial contributors, agreed to reopen Ravencroft in order to help suffering supervillains everywhere… or so he says. As we know, Kingpin always has the best intentions (cough… sarcasm). But, what’s the main purpose of the series? Is this series meant to showcase new villains? Is it meant to develop modern storylines? Maybe this series is here to retell historical events in Ravencroft’s past? Or, is this the start of another Marvel Event down the road? Well, let’s jump into RAVENCROFT #1 by Frank Tieri and see if we can answer any of the questions above while we pray that this doesn’t lead us to another event!
Secrecy and speculation are absolutely tremendous in a story. They add character, appeal, intrigue, and dare I say water cooler discussions that have partially been missing in the medium. Gosh, I genuinely love mystery in a story and even more so in a comic. However, the eerie feeling that was in the RUINS OF RAVENCROFT issues by Frank Tieri just wasn’t in this issue like it was in the prior. Sure, I’m interested in Misty’s secret organization, who the players are, and how it exactly connects to Ravencroft. However, this overall narrative that began in RUINS OF RAVENCROFT moved from weird and eerie to just a limited selection of clarity, which is two totally different things. For example, Misty Knight’s purpose in this narrative was lost or sacrificed for other plot threads. Her role is still unclear within Ravencroft AND the only character-building element readers have seen her do throughout this issue is a therapy session. How does that fit Misty Knight or even this series?
As great as the above question is for this series, Tieri basically spells out that the inmates are running the asylum before this issue wraps up. Whether it be the villains running the show on the surface OR the ones behind the curtain that are in the shadows, something just didn’t sit right with this reader. After everything that happened in ABSOLUTE CARNAGE, why bother to rebuild this place at all? And, the motive Tieri uses with his characters is that the reopening is a “means to rehabilitate supervillains”. That’s fine I suppose, but to rebuild an entire complex on the ruins of Ravencroft and not thoroughly explore those deep dark secrets and legends with what’s leftover from before is utter lunacy.
Now, Tieri explains away the “inmates running the asylum” angle beautifully by stating that the media isn’t receiving the names of whose in charge other than John Jameson who has become the figurehead of the new Ravencroft. (lucky him) Therefore, the supervillains in charge can work unquestioned, except by Misty for the most part. This makes the comic ”work” for now. But, how long can this fly? Furthermore, there is another big player in this issue that begins consulting that truly should be locked up. However, that too is ”explained” by quickly brushing the situation under the rug. I truly do appreciate the explanations but why not use other characters or think through the rationale and logistics of your character choices first?
Sure, there were moments that the narrative appeared a bit far fetched, but the illustrations were certainly right on the money. Angel Unzueta’s art was well polished, crisp, and inked with thick outlines to make the issue pop. Similarly, the background changes during action sequences helped with the direction and movement of the characters. Plus, the still position poses and overall expressions of each character were extremely detailed and often time ominous. Heck, the last panel with Kingpin staring readers down as the issue concludes sent shivers down my spine. The only knock on the art team this reader could see was one confusing action scene in Ravencroft involving Misty Knight. At first glance, it seemed as though Misty got behind the inmate in a locked cell to help out. Arms were grabbing people from different cells and I simply couldn’t tell who or what was happening until the scene was over.
Ultimately, this critic is leaving the issue with some interesting questions that are actually my driving force behind wanting to continue the series. Who exactly is in cell 616? Plus, how and why did Kingpin decide on the choices to run the new Ravencroft? The group running Ravencroft is an interesting mix that left this reviewer fascinated for their interactions as this series moves forward. Moreover, what organization is Misty working for and why are they so interested in Ravencroft.? They didn’t seem to be interested before the whole Carnages fiasco. Does it have something to do with the hidden inmate?
That said, the eerie whirlwind of history that surrounded the RUINS OF RAVENCROFT issues has faded away and what remains is a number one that lacked the mysterious strangeness that drove me to this series in the first place. My expectation was actually a comic that would be more on the horror side and less superhero oriented. However, fans get an issue that became a large supervillain team-up book with a villainous plot waiting to be uncovered. This reader thought we would be getting more history, as well as more classic tales surrounding Jonas Ravencroft. But instead, readers get Ravencroft 2.0. This wasn’t what I was looking for BUT I think I’ll stick around for a bit anyway.
As issue one comes to a close, readers will leave with more questions than answers, which isn’t always a bad thing… as long as they eventually get answered. The issue overall wasn’t too wordy, easy to follow, contained pretty strong art by Angel Unzueta and her team, and was entertaining enough to hold my attention straight through the read. Additionally, Frank Tieri developed a few hidden elements that made this series feel important and snookered me into hanging in there for a few more issues. However, some of the character motivations were lacking and Tieri’s inaugurating tale just appeared to have too many plot holes that didn’t seem plausible or jive for this opening narrative. As of right now, I’m interested enough to continue into issue two and would recommend anyone who liked the RUINS OF RAVENCROFT issues to also dive in. If you’re looking for something different and new, this could also be your book. However, it’s definitely not the book for new comic readers. This series is made for those who have been invested in the Marvel Landscape for some time now.