Review - Rowans Ruin #1 (@BoomStudios)

"All the deaths at Rowans Rise. Every last one. They were murders."

A good ghost story has plenty of elements that make it good. Terrifying lore, ambiguous details and a touch of history thrown in for good measure. When those stories manifest themselves as they do in Rowans Ruin #1 from BOOM! Studios, there's a lot more to be scared of. The issue is written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Mike Perkins, colored by Andy Troy and lettered by Jim Campbell.

Katie has always had things pretty easy, growing up in comfortable circumstances in Florida. But when she finds herself with a long summer break before grad school, she decides to do a house-swap with a British girl, Emily, as a way to vacation relatively cheaply—and to get out from under her parents’ attentiveness. England is great, so different from Florida, and the house, called Rowans Rise, is charming. But soon she starts having nightmares—really, really, strong ones. Curious, Katie researches the owners of the house, and discovers it may have more of a sinister history than she thought…

There's a lot of intrigue going on in Rowans Ruins #1, all told through the guise of Katie's social media life. Carey does a great job of building up the tension by having Katie blog about it, email it, Skype it and everything else imaginable. It's a pretty good dichotomy between the always-on connectedness of today and the loneliness that comes with being a haunted house by yourself. Carey furthers this concept with Katie's dialogue and interactions with her parents, primarily through the aforementioned social media channels. The pacing of the first issue is very methodical as well, with Carey keeping things slow and steady until the end.

Perkins does some interesting things with the artwork. Katie is illustrated as expressive, which works out well when she's being terrified out of her mind because of the house she's staying in. Adding to the concept of being connected, Perkins uses some great panel designs to further immerse the reader in the action--for instance, there are two pages where everything is told from the perspective of Katie giving her parents a video tour of the grounds with her phone, presenting the scenario as something that many readers can and will easily relate to. Troy's colors match tones associated with the glow from devices, making the book something of a second-screen experience of sorts.

Rowans Ruin #1 is a great first issue that shows hints of a more ominous and sinister presence lurking. Katie thinks she's getting the idyllic English countryside with her stay, but there are indications that the history may have left more of an impression on the house than previously thought. Carey's story is well-paced and methodical, effectively setting the tone for the series. Perkins' artwork is indicative of an online world, where appearances are cut off by awkward camera angles. Rowans Ruin #1 is a fun first issue that promises to be persistent with the terror-filled atmosphere.

Rowans Ruin #1 is in stores now.