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Quote1 I swear that tonight is the last night anyone gets brutalized at this institution... Quote2
-- Claudia Russell

Appearing in 1st story

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Synopsis for 1st story

Exploring the sinister laboratory hidden underneath the Ravencroft Institute's south wing - which is full of biological diagrams, dissected specimens, and blood samples from a diverse array of species - Mister Fantastic remarks that the specimens were collected in at least the early 20th centuries but are remarkably well-preserved. Mayor Wilson Fisk wonders who the lab belongs to, Misty Knight finding a framed photograph of Dr. Nathaniel Essex, who Mister Fantastic vaguely recognizes.

As they explore a corridor of cells, John Jameson remarks that he's thankfully never seen this part of the institute before. As Fisk suggests they leave, Misty questions whether the crimelord-turned-mayor had something to do with the laboratory. As Fisk sneers that Misty has a vivid imagination, Jameson remarks that it doesn't take one to imagine what being a prisoner in the facility would have been like, peering through one of the cell doors to find a desiccated corpse.

Mister Fantastic finds a door at the end of the hallway reading "Unwanted," Fisk suggesting they heed its warning. Jameson remarks that the door seems to be too tightly sealed to open, but Mister Fantastic uses his powers to force it open. To Reed's dismay, they find a seemingly empty chamber; but as Fisk disparagingly remarks that there isn't as much in the facility as he had been lead to believe, a scratching sound comes from below them. As Richards worriedly observes that the sound is getting louder, hands burst from the ground as Fisk remarks that it's too late.

Excerpted from the Journal of Jonas Ravencroft, the asylum's founder states that while Cortland Kasady may have technically been the Institute's first patient, he was by no means its last. Noting that while the the cannibalistic cult that had prowled Westchester County had disappeared as time passed, their absence hadn't stabilized the region. In the year 1783, Captain Steven Rogers was killed fighting in one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War. Jonas notes that the nightmarish occurrences didn't stop there: in 1804 a different apocalyptic cult summoned the eldritch god Shuma-Gorath on the cursed land, in 1820 a Spirit of Vengeance dubbed the Headless Horseman haunted the glen of Sleepy Hollow, in 1862 Tyrannus attempted to conquer the region with an army of Tyrannoids, and in 1891 the Skrull Empire invaded.

For centuries, the land in Westchester County remained undeveloped until Jonas Ravencroft purchased it in 1899, intent on honoring his ancestor, Molly Ravencroft, by rectifying the utter lack of mental health care in the region. Despite setbacks such as riots from angry New Yorkers, mysterious "accidental" fires, and a worker murdering the foreman under the influence of Mephisto, the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane was finally completed. One of the Institute's early inmates was the time-displaced Sir Percy of Scandia, Jonas dismissing his claims of having been sent to the future by Morgan le Fay as a delusion. One of his employees, a Romanian doctor named Claudia Russell, suggested they treat Percy's claims seriously and return his sword, but she was dismissed by Jonas and her colleague Dr. Nathanial Essex. In his journal, Jonas notes that while he found Dr. Essex's logic sound there was something disturbing about him, and that in time he would discover just how sinister Dr. Essex was.

Sometime later, Dr. Essex's hired thug, Victor Creed, stands over the lobotomized James "Logan" Howlett, wondering whether his longtime nemesis is the serial killer dubbed the "Knickerbocker Knifer" by the Daily Bugle newspaper before deciding that he couldn't care less. As Creed gloats that he's butchered people - including his own siblings - Dr. Essex enters the cell and reprimands him not to tamper with his new specimen - one he's wanted to acquire for some time. As Dr. Essex saws off one of Logan's arms, Creed cheerfully remarks that anything he had planned for Logan couldn't be worse than what Dr. Essex has planned.

Sneaking into Logan's room, Dr. Russell laments that his deplorable condition is her fault for looking the other way regarding Dr. Essex's highly unethical treatment of his patients. As she tries to carry Logan to safety, vowing to never let another patient be brutalized, Dr. Russell is attacked by Creed. Slapping Logan's face, Creed sneers that she shouldn't make promises she can't keep, especially when they involve herself. Dr. Russell snaps that Creed doesn't scare her, but he gleefully remarks that since he can't have her interfering with Dr. Essex's experiments, he intends to do more than frighten her.

Regaining consciousness, Logan attacks Creed in a berserk rage and impales him through the lower jaw with his claws. As Creed flings him off, Dr. Russell remarks on Logan's regenerative abilities and urges him to run. Revealing his own healing abilities, Creed lunges at Dr. Russell and mockingly asks if she can say the same about herself. Transforming into a werewolf, Dr. Russell reveals that she is the real Knickerbocker Knifer - having been unable to control her bestial form's predatory urges during the full moon. Snarling that Creed's death won't be an accident, Dr. Russell pounces on him and slams him into a wall. Before she can do anything further, Dr. Essex stabs her in the neck with a syringe. As she collapses, he remarks that this was an unexpected development and that he loathes surprises.

In his journal, Jonas notes that the next morning he received a letter from Dr. Russell announcing her resignation and that she was returning to her native Romania. Noting that while the letter was in her writing and returning to her homeland was something she had discussed in the past, Jonas nevertheless felt that something seemed off about it, that something terrible had happened to Dr. Russell, and that Dr. Essex was responsible.

In his hidden laboratory, Dr. Essex and Victor Creed vivisect Dr. Russell, Jonas noting that from that day on his trust in Nathanial Essex ended, as did Essex's reign of terror over the Ravencroft Institute; however, Jonas lamentingly writes that Essex wasn't the last monster to enter his facility.

In the present, Mister Fantastic, Misty, Jameson, and Fisk are confronted by a horde of grotesquely deformed vampires that burst through the floor. As Fisk recoils in horror, stammering that this can't be possible after all this time, Jameson transforms into Man-Wolf and lunges into the fray, saying that the best way to fight a monster is with another monster. Misty and Mister Fantastic note that the grotesque vampires have the upper hand through numbers and the group retreats through the door. As Fisk forces the door shut with help from Mister Fantastic and Man-Wolf, Misty notes that he looked like he'd seen a ghost - or that the ghost had seen him. Fisk irritably tells her that if she intends to make an accusation she should do so, but that otherwise she should choose her words carefully or risk making him a powerful enemy.

Solicit Synopsis

The history of the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane has been shrouded in mystery for years. NO LONGER! In the wake of ABSOLUTE CARNAGE, the facility’s past has started to unravel, and in doing so has revealed hidden chapters in the lives of some of the Marvel Universe’s most recognizable heroes and villains!

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Footnotes

  1. First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks



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