BOOM! Studios has been on quite the run over the past two years, delivering several stellar original series in all sorts of genres. The latest addition to their roster is a new series from writer Dan Panosian and artist Marianna Ignazzi titled An Unkindness of Ravens, a series that follows a secret order of witches who survived the horrid days of the Salem Witch Trials and have guarded ancient secrets ever since. If that premise sounds compelling you’d be right, but surprisingly the series throws a bit of high school drama in the mix, as the school in question serves as a surreal yet reliable battleground for this eras-long battle, and it all makes for a series that is difficult to put down once you begin.
It also takes confidence to kick off your first issue with 4 pages of text, even if pulled from The Abigail House. That’s typically a no-go for me, especially in first issues, as I’d more often than not rather have you introduce me to the world itself rather than just explain it to me. That said, this set the stage incredibly well for the sudden shift to more modern times to follow, and it successfully hooked me for what was to come.
The visual style and tonal shift from the beginning of the book to the beginning of Wilma’s journey took me back a bit, but again, it worked quite well despite the shock. The somewhat vintage high school atmosphere, both in tone and visual style of the book grew on me, and though you only meet the Ravens and the Dansforth’s popular kids briefly at first, their distinct designs instantly conveyed a bit of their personalities as well as their importance to the story with merely a glance.
It’s surprising that we don’t actually get much movement on the whole secret order thing until just about the very end of the issue, but I didn’t really mind. Panosian plants enough seeds and reveals several compelling threads in the high school itself and those who go there that you’ll find yourself immersed in just about everything that goes on there, and there seems to be much more to the Ravens vs cool kids dynamic than it initially seems. The tension there is subtle, but well done, pulling you into the mystery behind these factions and why they both want Wilma amongst their numbers, and I did not see myself caring about that aspect at all in a book about witches protecting secrets and a legacy. It was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
Ignazzi and colorist Fabiana Mascolo’s visual style is less about horror and shadow and more about classic and colorful, opting for brightly lit corridors and eye-catching fashion aside from a panel or two. The characters themselves feel like they could be out of a vintage high school rom-com, but there’s an underlying tension to the bright setting and stylish characters that never quite goes away. Also worth noting that if the last page is representative of what we're in store for, then the future is bright indeed.
Not everything was perfect of course. Visually some of the character expressions look a bit odd, and at times the visuals to walk that line between vintage homage and hokey a bit too closely. It's also a shame that after that stellar intro to the world of the Ravens and all the history they protect that we only really get movement on that front at issue's end.
Still, it's always best to leave someone wanting more, and I can safely say that An Unkindness of Ravens most certainly did. This was not at all what I was expecting from a premise like this, but that's what I found most refreshing about it, and the journey to uncovering all the secrets this town holds is one I couldn't be more delighted to be on, and I think you'll dig it too.
Published by Boom Studios
On September 23, 2020
Written by Dan Panosian
Art by Marianna Ignazzi0comments
Colors by Fabiana Mascolo
Letters by Mike Fiorentino