House of Mystery: Halloween Annual No. 1 (DC/Vertigo) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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House of Mystery: Halloween Annual No. 1


Oct 28, 2009 DC Comics Bookmark and Share

House of Mystery is an ongoing series by DC/Vertigo that’s half an anthology as it is. As Kyle Lemmon recapped in his review of the second trade collection, HoM is about “a group of five strangers trapped within a supernatural tavern where strange patrons pass the time regaling each other in outlandish yarns.” The ongoing story of the “five strangers” is broken up by the horrific tales of the patrons, which are presented by a grab bag of creative teams.

With the Halloween Annual, the format strays a little bit. The main plot is as usual, written by Matt Sturges and penciled by Luca Rossi. In it, one of the main protagonists, Fig, puts on a Halloween mask that doesn’t seem to want to come off. It transports her into tales of former wearers of the mask-that’s where this issue’s anthology stories come in. For this annual, though, the interspersed stories all take place within other Vertigo properties.

Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham take us back to the universe of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman with a fun tale starring Merv Pumpkinhead. Peter Milligan, Guiseppe Camuncoli, and Stefano Landini show us the appealing terror of Hellblazer in just seven pages. We’re treated to a funny short story from the upcoming I, Zombie! title, written by Chris Roberson with art by Mike Allred, which promises to be quite charming. A Madame Xanadu tale showcases the fine art of Amy Reeder Hadley to a potentially new audience (she’s good!) and shows industry legend Matt Wagner still has his writing chops.

Fans of the ongoing House of Mystery title will surely get a kick out of the series regulars in silly costumes, treading about as close to “cute” as you’d want without crossing a line in a horror-based series. The framing mechanism is well thought out and, as you’d expect from the House of Mystery, it ends with a bit of a ghoulish twist.

If the goal was to pique curiosity at all these other series, mission accomplished. The book definitely leaves the reader wanting more-which, in a sense, is a problem for the reader, but plays perfectly into DC/Vertigo’s plans. You may question whether you want to pay five bucks for a sales pitch, even a wholly enjoyable one. I call it a case of “no harm, no foul.” (

Author rating: 7/10

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