Comic Review: ROWAN’S RUIN

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SHOCK’s comic Queen Svetlana Fedotov looks at the spooky 4-part miniseries ROWAN’S RUIN.

From THE CONJURING and INSIDIOUS to classics such as THE HAUNTING and BURNT OFFERINGS, there’s nothing more fun than piecing together the clues of a haunted house’s past as the watcher is thrust into the movies shocking conclusion. It’s that kind of hook that keeps horror fans coming back for more; the thrill of the chase, the morbid promises of terror. BOOM! Studios has decided to turn the archetypal supernatural mystery formula into their newest comic release, ROWAN’S RUIN, a tale of flickering shadows, locked doors, and whispered warnings. Mixing classic horror with modern technologies, the work offers up a story of isolation that preys on the creeping fear that we are never really alone and, with a mini-series format, promises a limited work that won’t over stay its welcome.

The series revolves around Katie, a well-off woman on the brink of her last summer break before grad school and the pressures of the adult world. Deciding to join a home-swapping website, she is over the moon when she is offered to swap houses with a woman in England for the summer and eagerly flies over there intent on having the time of her life. Soon though, she starts noticing weird things about the home, such her constantly dying batteries, strange traps around the yard, and the weird note from the homeowner that says to stay out of her bedroom. As much as she attempts to avoid the nagging feeling that something is definitely off, she can’t ignore that she is in over her head when the odd rumors of the house reach her ears. And, of course, there’s the nightmares…

ROWAN’S RUIN is nothing if not a fun read. It’s got a great, slow burn style without dragging itself through the pages or having too much of a ‘talking head’ vibe. The writer, Mike Carey, is no stranger when it comes to writing horror comics, having worked on DC/Vertigo’s classics LUCIFER and HELLBLAZER, and he brings that kind of experience to this original work. Everything is deliberately placed to suck in the reader only end right on the perfect burning point. Perhaps the only drawback is that none of the characters are that interesting. Katie is a standard, middle-of-the-road woman with a well-tailored jacket and jeans, her parents are kind but over-protective, and her love interest is a man who has a sexy accent and likes to take boat rides. Hopefully we some more original character work in the following issues, but so far, this is more story driven than character driven.

The art by Mike Perkins is more or less solid. The layouts are well done and the background are surprisingly detailed, creating an enveloping view of Rowans Ruin’s world. The soft watercolors by Andy Troy help to bring the look together with a dark palate and an eye for design. Unfortunately, some of the character movement gets a bit gobbed up with either splotchy faces or awkwardly stiff or enlarged limbs. It not such a big deal that it takes away from the experience, but sticklers for fine comic art might be a bit put off. Regardless, ROWAN’S RUIN is a fun read for those looking for a solid scare and a solid mystery to keep you up at night.

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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