House of Mystery #1 (Vertigo – Sturges / Willingham / Rossi)
Matthew Sturges, writer of the Eisner-nominated JACK OF FABLES, and his JACK co-writer Bill Willingham, proudly unlock the doors to the HOUSE OF MYSTERY, a new ongoing series that reinvents a classic DC Comics concept. HOUSE OF MYSTERY focuses on five characters trapped in a supernatural bar, trying to solve the mystery of how and why they’re imprisoned there. Each one has a terrible past they’d like to forget, and with no books, newspapers or TV allowed in the House, they face an eternity of boredom. But stories become the new currency, and fortunately, the House attracts only the finest storytellers.
Ever since I was young I have been in love with serialized stories within stories. The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Jim Henson’s The Story-Teller… these are classics as far as I am concerned. This is also why, with all of the incredible stories that have come out of DC over the years , some of the absolute best have come from The House of Mystery and The House of Secrets. The Brothers Cain and Able, who manage the two aforementioned houses, have got to be at the top of the list for hosts / narrators when it comes to longevity and entertainment. No matter how bitter and dark their interactions were, these two always made me smile. I physically cheered when I saw this new series opened with these macabre brothers.
Sturges and Willingham weave their tale between several situations that might leave some reader’s heads spinning… Cain is freaking out because someone has physically removed his House… an introduction to the bar with people from various times and where a dark coachman brings people and takes them away… a young lady who is obsessed and cannot keep the blueprints of the House of Mystery out of her mind is being chased by two haunts… and the Tale of Hungry Sally (big oooky points there!). Given the artists and writers present in this series, the potential of this is truly unlimited and could really re-vitalize the horror genre for mainstream DC / Vertigo readers. The only real negative of the book is a big one, there is too much going on… a tad too much to track. I think this will resolve itself as the series continues but looking at this as a stand alone, it was really cramped.
Issue Grade: B+