Ravencroft is a series that was not on my radar. Then Frank Tieri revealed an interesting and long backstory to the institute via Carnage and Sabretooth one-shots. The backstory entwined with American history and captures the imagination like that of Lovecraft and Frankenstein. This week, the first of a five-issue main series comes out setting up where Ravencroft goes now after being rebuilt. There are monsters in its closets and now fresh supervillains in its cells, a perfect recipe for a heck of a problem for Marvel mainstay heroes.
This issue opens above Ravencroft and slowly pushes in as Misty Knight details who she is and what her relationship is with Ravencroft now that it is open. Artist Angel Unzueta does a great job revealing the cold and strange location. It has an old feel, but also feels new thanks to the revamp done by Kingpin. John Jameson is another key character, who is quickly revealed to be a questionable party even though he’s involved in running the place. This series is a direct spin-off from Absolute Carnage which shows Jameson enslaved by Carnage and made into a soldier as well as Norman Osborn who was also made into a puppet of Carnage. Considering the deep emotional drain that must have been, both characters are taking their freedom from Carnage differently, with John reflecting on his acts and Norman seemingly better than ever.
This issue is rather economical with its time. It establishes the characters, a few different settings we’ll likely explore further like group therapy and then hints at some dangers lying in wait. It sets all this up while establishing the cold and odd nature of Ravencroft. Even though it is old, the new finish on the place matches the dread and despair that permeates the book thanks to the blackness at the edges of panels.
Reading this, I very much missed the flashback historical portions of the one-shots that led to this issue. There aren’t many reveals in this issue and the action is reduced to one altercation that isn’t much of a threat at all. I was left wanting, though it does set up its characters and the main conflicts at hand. This issue needed something; a monster reveal, an exciting character secret, or something else to hang its hat on. Instead, it’s sort of a middling, ho-hum affair. There is one reveal that may have folks talking, but it’s something we’ve seen done before in other titles like Thunderbolts and there isn’t enough here to care one way or the other.
I’m curious to see what Tieri and Unzueta do with this book, although I’m a bit hesitant in calling it a must-read at this point. Considering the rich history we’ve been shown in the previous one-shot stories, this issue is about as cold as the floors of Ravencroft itself. A good enough setup issue, but I’m waiting to see when the real conflict and action kicks into gear.