Best Shots Advance Review: RUINS OF RAVENCROFT - CARNAGE #1 (5/10)

"Ruins of Ravencroft: Carnage #1" preview
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Ruins of Ravencroft: Carnage #1
Written by Frank Tieri
Art by Guiu Vilanova, Angel Unzueta and Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 5 out of 10

Credit: Marvel Comics

In the fallout from the Absolute Carnage event, Ravencroft must be rebuilt in order to ensure the criminally insane have a second chance at a normal life. Or at least, that’s the plan, despite questions most readers should have over the soundness of rebuilding this facility on top of a place that has been a site of concentrated evil for centuries. And that is exactly what Frank Tieri, Guiu Vilanova, and Angel Unzuenta look to explore in this first issue as he takes readers back to the pre-colonized Ravencroft to explore its demons.

Ruins of Ravencroft: Carnage #1 takes place between the past and the present with Unzueta handling the modern-day art and Vilanova covering the art on the flashbacks. While employing multiple line artists on a comic can be jarring, it proves effective to demarcate the different settings as we see here p though the consistency between the two styles comes into question. Vilanova does an especially fine job with the artwork in the flashback scenes with the heavier inks lending to the foreboding tone for this horror story.

Similarly, Rachelle Rosenberg’s color palette takes on a more muted approach, which helps evoke a sense of quiet – again, reinforcing the tension during key scenes.

Unfortunately, the overall visual approach in the modern day elements felt off comparatively. Whereas there was a more organic blend between the line art and the colors in the flashback scenes, those parts depicting the present-day didn’t come together in the same way between the overly rendered colors and the heavier line weights. It’s something that probably wouldn’t have been as noticeable if it weren’t for the comparatively stronger presentation from the flashbacks.

Credit: Marvel Comics

In terms of the story, we see once again that a question of consistency arises. Once Tieri is free to dig into horror elements of the story, notably in Ravencroft’s past, he begins to flex his chops as a horror writer. He never fully reveals the horrors residing in the wilds, but we do encounter its agents…as do Molly and Cortland - early settlers who ignored the warnings of settling too close to the area that would later become Ravencroft. If there was only one problem with the flashback, it’s that we see the tired trope of a woman killed in order to show how evil another character is or has become. While refrigerators didn’t exist in colonial America, it doesn’t stop this issue from leaving a dead woman in a box for the rest of the townsfolk to discover.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Looking at the present-day set up, however, the “team” that’s brought together is a bit of a head-scratcher. We have Misty Knight, John Jameson, Mayor Wilson Fisk, and Reed Richards all coming together to oversee the reconstruction of the Ravencroft facility. While all were involved in the previous Absolute Carnage event in their own ways, it just feels a bit contrived and random to bring them all together for this horror-mystery mini-event. Moreover, the scenes frequently feel a bit too expository in nature, often filled with panels of talking heads.

While the ending aims to be a suspenseful cliffhanger, the underground facility the motley crew discovers never really produces any sort of horror or shock. Even if the final reveal was supposed to be a significant moment, it didn’t make itself clear or connect to the flashback scene in a way that felt like a compelling cliffhanger.

Overall, Ruins of Ravencroft: Carnage #1 looks to offer readers a backstory behind the Carnage villain that takes it well-beyond what we might have expected. And in that regard, it does begin laying that foundation. Unfortunately, the consistency issues in this first story are pretty noticeable and certainly weigh down some of the high points in the story.

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