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House of Mystery #1 [Review]


Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The First Drink is on the House, The Hollows

A new story is set up as we’re introduced to the present status quo of the House of Mystery…

houseofmystery001Writers: Matthew Sturges, Bill Willingham
Artists: Luca Rossi, Ross Campbell
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover: Sam Weber
Variant Cover: Bernie Wrightson
Co-Editors: Shelly Bond & Angela Rufino
Publisher: DC Comics

I don’t normally read Vertigo books as single issues, especially for their first arcs, knowing I’ll be able to check them out in a bargain-priced TPB for the first arc, and tend to find the stories much more engaging read as full arcs rather than singles.

What intrigued me with this series was the premise that there would be stories within the story…as well as a vague recollection of the "House of Mystery" having a role in Gaiman‘s Sandman series, which I read a number of years ago.

The issue actually opens with Cain and Abel, in their familiar relationship I recalled from Sandman, which drew me right into the issue. While Cain finds himself in an interesting predicament, the story moves forward a few years, and we find ourselves in the midst of a farewell party for an individual preparing to leave, even as others remain stuck. We also get the beginnings of a look at someone on the run with only drawings of a mysterious house. We’re also treated to a story by one of the patrons of the kitchen–as stories are the only currency of any weight here. This story provides some context to who she is, leading into a rather disturbing revelation that she herself doesn’t even seem to realize…though it seems perfectly fitting for a mysterious house full of people who can’t seem to go anywhere.

The story reminds me of a story from the Sandman, at least as far as characters being brought together in one place and sharing stories of their pasts and where they come from and all that. At the same time, there seems to be a certain "framing" story overall that hints at a larger story at play, even while we meet the characters in this house and are treated to the stories they tell one another. That the art team varies for the stories being told is something I really like, more fully illustrating the difference between the main story we’re witnessing as readers, and the story we’re witnessing as fellow listeners while a story is told within the story.

Overall, the art all around works quite well to me, accentuating the story in a very believable way. In something of a rare moment, I feel like I got both a "full" story in this issue where I don’t feel I have to get the next issue…but there’s also enough of something else that I’m interested in seeing what else is to be found. The final page seems to work as well both as an ending and a beginning…a nice "hook" for the reader.

This is a very solid first issue, and if subsequent issues read much in the way this one did, I think it’ll be a nice treat, without even needing to read a bunch of issues in one sitting just to feel like I’m getting the fuller picture.

If only to try it out, I definitely recommend this issue.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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