|Major WM Releaser
Device: dell axim
: House of Mystery
(Click to go to the release post)Writer(s)
: Matthew Sturges
(Click to see other books from this writer released on this site)Review source
: Timothy Callahan
(Review 1) and Timothy Callahan
(Review 2) (Don't click it, read the review here...
) " Though I don't know what's at stake and who all the players are, I know that my curiosity is piqued."Review
Review 1 - House of Mystery #1 - In this resurrection of the "House of Mystery" concept, writers Matt Sturges and Bill Willingham have come up with the perfect way to sell an anthology series in the 21st century: copy the model of the hit ABC television series "Lost."More info
Like "Lost," "House of Mystery" has an oddball collection of characters who long to escape their mysterious imprisonment (in "Lost" it's the island, and here it's the House of Mystery itself), and each episode features a self-contained short story about one character's past. At least, that's the structure of this first issue, and it was the structure "Lost" maintained for its first couple of seasons. Such a structure allowed "Lost" to operate as an anthology series for years, slowly developing the mystery of the island as it spent more time each week telling a single tale from a character's life. "Lost" eventually evolved beyond that, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing happen here. But if the first issue is any indication, "House of Mystery" will use the overall mystery of the house to keep the readers coming back, and the short stories within each issue as a showcase for Bill Willingham's brand of gothic horror.
In this issue we get a four-pager illustrated by Ross Campbell who mixes cuteness with creepiness to sublime effect. The brief interlude sheds light on a character trapped in the House of Mystery, but it's also genuinely chilling on its own. While I liked the rest of the comic, this brief tale, called "The Hollows" sold me on the potential greatness of this series. If each issue has a short horror tale of this kind of quality, it will definitely keep me coming back for more. It's horror of a nightmarish quality, the kind of thing that nestles into your psyche for days. It's a very effective four pages.
The serialized story, far more than just a framing sequence, is written by Matthew Sturges, and it cuts back and forth between the inhabitants of the House of Mystery and a young girl fleeing from two tattered, but formally clad, apparitions. The girl carries what appear to be blueprints for the House of Mystery, drafted from her dreams.
Clearly the girl will be important to the narrative -- she seems to be the protagonist, even though we know little about her. It is the House of Mystery, though, and would you expect answers in the first issue?
As a way to trick reluctant readers into buying an anthology series, "House of Mystery" seems to work. The main narrative has enough strangeness and, well, mystery, to propel the story forward, and the small little flashback tales are an added facet to this potential jewel. The "Lost" model can work in comics, I think. I just hope Sturges and Willingham don't get bogged down by their need to keep the mystery alive at the expense of the solution.
Review 2 - House of Mystery #27 - I liked the first issue of this series, and the way it was structured with a long-form mystery plot as a frame story around various nice-looking anthology tales. But I didn't stick around for more than a handful of issues, as I lost interest in the main plot rather quickly and the guest artists drawing the embedded stories didn't lure me consistently. So "House of Mystery" #27 is the first issue of the series I've read in nearly two years.
In many ways, this review is a check-in, to see if I like this issue enough to start buying it again, or even find enough of interest that I'd feel compelled to track down all the issues I've missed. But the reason I chose to jump back in to the series with this particular issue -- admittedly a not-very-inviting time, as this is "Part 2 of 5" of the "Safe Houses" arc -- is the presence of Brendan McCarthy.
So this review is also a response to the implicit question: Is the Brendan McCarthy contribution worth a look?
As CBR readers who have been paying attention know, Brendan McCarthy is an artist who has received my accolades more than once. He's a major talent in the industry, though he hasn't produced much for mainstream consumption in the past decade. But his "Spider-Man: Fever" miniseries is one of my favorite books of the year, and his work with Matt Fraction on "Who Won't Wield the Shield" was a giddy blend of Ditko, Nixon, and old-school Peter Milligan. McCarthy's always someone worth paying attention to, so, yes, his contribution to "House of Mystery" #27 is certainly worth a look, even if it's less amazing than his Marvel work from 2010.
In this issue McCarthy provides the full-color art on an eight-page Vietnam flashback story, in which one of the main characters, Mack, recounts his experiences learning to be a sorcerer in the bush. "I learned how to turn verbs into water and thoughts into lima beans," he narrates, over a McCarthy collage page. It's a weird war tale, to be sure, and it's an enchantingly odd one, but though it gives McCarthy a chance to maximize the psychedelic color scheme he seems to like, it's a little less energizing than what we saw in his earlier work this year. It's still great-looking stuff, and I'd love to see him draw every single page of every single issue of this comic, but I'm just trying to provide some context.
The rest of this issue, drawn by regular series artist Luca Rossi, shows that this series has changed plenty since last time I checked in. First, and most noticeably, the characters aren't in the house anymore, and the long-form mystery has blossomed into a full-on war with goblins, and witches, and time travel, and flying killer robots. Not what I expected to find at all, and though I don't know what's at stake and who all the players are, I know that my curiosity is piqued. I might just have to check out this series again, even if Brendan McCarthy isn't around each and every month.
Story by Matthew SturgesPublisher
Art by Luca Rossi, Jose Marzan Jr., Brendan McCarthy
Colors by Lee Loughridge, Brendan McCarthy
Letters by Todd Klein
Cover by Esao Andrews
|Post rewarded by Ojay on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:42 am.
|Nice reviewed! 5 WRZ$ reward. Thanks Zach!