June 4th, 2009
The immaculate cover of House of Mystery #1A page from House of Mystery #1
A page from House of Mystery #2A page from House of Mystery #6

House of Mystery is an occult-horror comic published by DC Comics under the Vertigo label. Originally appearing in the 1950s and then again in the 1980s, House of Mystery laid dormant for years until writers Matthew Sturges (Shadowpact, Blue Beetle) and Bill Willingham (Fables) revived the series once again in 2008.

The House of Mystery is a place filled with interesting people. These are people from all walks of life, from all times — and timelines. Bethany “Fig” Keeler is one such person. She, like The House’s other residents, would like nothing more than to go back to their previous lives, but she is trapped. There are attempts at escaping made, but the harsh truth is that their only means of egress is when a mysterious man simply called “The Coachman” arrives at the front gates, in his own timing, to take them away. So the occupants of The House of Mystery, along with The House’s numerous visitors, must resign themselves to drinking their days and nights away in the bar room, where the drinks are free, so long as you have a story to share. And herein lies what makes The House of Mystery, as a comic book, so special: the stories. Sturges, Willingham, and/or the occasional guest writer, treat us to an average of two sub-stories per issues. Representing genres including fantasy, horror, science fiction, or sometimes even autobiographical accounts of events in the various characters’ lives, these stories have the capacity to disgust, frighten, fascinate, sadden, and warm the hearts of readers.

Though there is much history behind the House of Mystery series to which I am, regrettably, largely ignorant, I’ve absolutely loved each and every issue of this latest incarnation. The over-arching storyline is almost completely auxiliary to the sub-stories told by the characters in each issue, though that’s not to say I find the pages in between uninteresting. The whole book is magical. Even the paper used in printing feels right; I only hope that it’s also being used in the trade paperback collections being published, of which there are two, so far. “Room and Boredom” collects issues #1 – 5 while “Love Stories for Dead People” collects #6 – 10.