Ravencroft is aiming to be a surprise hit with the fantastic opening issue and more to come. Frank Tieri is crafting an insane asylum story that goes back centuries and affects things in the present in a big way. In the second part of the story we peer in to see how Sabretooth and Logan were involved with Ravencroft.
This issue opens where we left off with Misty Knight, John Jameson, Kingpin, and Mr. Fantastic exploring a secret basement to Ravencroft. There are some great close-ups of stuffed creatures, split in half beings, and experiments left behind. One might think these things were recently used, but nobody notices. They really don’t have time since the undead rise from the ground beneath them. This leads to the beginning of the flashback that takes up most of the story.
It picks up where we left off with Cletus Kasady’s ancestor Cortland Kasady getting the first Ravencroft treatment. Soon we’re whisked off to the Revolutionary War (with a dude looking like Captain America…is this canon!?) in 1783 and jumping ahead in time every few decades. It’s a cool way to show wild events in the 1800s we may not have known about. Tieri is doing a good job of increasing our interest in these lost tales.
From there the book delves into the creation of Ravencroft and the difficulty to get it going. We meet some folks who work there with Jonas Ravencroft and discover some superhero types who were admitted there in 1909. The development around Ravencroft is interesting and some might compare it to Arkham but Tieri is laying the groundwork well enough to make it far more complex and evil. Sabretooth and Logan tie into it all too and it’s neat to see them woven into this secret past.
Art is by Angel Unzueta (modern-day) and Guillermo Sanna (flashbacks) with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. Unzueta does a fantastic job with this issue, getting to draw some gnarly monsters and plenty of action. The oddities as the characters walk in are striking and tell a story within a story. Sanna’s style suits the olden day montages and the Revolutionary War scenes are perfect in their chaos and gritty nature. The Sabretooth and Logan scenes are ever so slightly cartoony–I thought of Michael Avon Oeming a couple of times–making it less moody and scary like the first issue flashbacks. Still, it works at building tension as things get complicated.
It’s a common issue with comic book covers, but seeing Logan in the Canadian costume on the cover is terribly misleading. I was expecting a bit more from Logan, but instead, he’s sort of just there.
The Ravencroft line of comics is working very well. If you’re into historical supernatural fiction you will love this. The mix of past and present is building well towards even more reveals too. Ravencroft is quickly becoming my favorite asylum in comics.