DC House of Horror #1
By Keith Giffen, Edward Lee, Howard Porter, Hi-Fi, Brian Keene, Scott Kolins, Romulo Fajardo Jr, Mary San Giovanni, Bilquis Evely, Mat Lopes, Ronald Malfi, Dale Eaglesham, Jordan Boyd, Bryan Smith, Brian Keene, Kyle Baker, Wrath James White, Tom Raney, Gina Going-Raney, Sal Cipriano, Nick Cutter, Rags Morales, Lovern Kindzierski, Weston Ochse, Howard Chaykin, Wil Quintana & more!
Released just in time for Halloween, we have a dark, twisted take on many of DC’s iconic characters in a bumper special that explores plenty of “What if” scenarios that you would never get in the main DC Universe. Here there are eight storylines written by multiple writers with Keith Giffen at the helm for the various plots. The stories featured in this one-shot anthology puts the spotlight on Superman, The Justice League, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Harley Quinn, Two Face, Batman and Shazam, and the end result is a really exciting experience that’s perfect for fans of horror.
“Blackest Night”, written by Brian Keene and with art by Scott Kolins and colors from Romulo Fajardo Jr, is the best short out of the collection and to any Green Lantern fan it will be immediately obvious from the title alone where it’s headed. It’s incredibly chilling here to witness the Justice League turn on each other one-by-one when infected with a virus and Keene nails the characters just well enough to make it hurt when you see them infected. His narration puts Hal Jordan at the centre of the spotlight and it’s well executed, with the final gut-punch ending that will certainly leave an impact. Scott Kolins and Romulo Fajardo Jr. work wonderfully well together to bring suitably atmospheric artwork to this tale that turn the Watchtower into a place of nightmares with great results. Their artwork stands out as among the best of the issue as we get to see horrifying depictions of zombified versions of the League.
The ‘what-if?’ scenarios that are explored across the book’s pages are plentiful and really intriguing. For example we have: a rogue baby Superman; Diana being influenced by a demonic possession; and an Oliver Queen who really did go mad on that island, turning into a fully functional psychopath who kills everyone that he sees. It’s not for the faint of heart as many of the stories thrust beloved protagonists and antagonists alike into unfamiliar, horrifying scenarios. This issue ends up making a good claim for being one of the darkest DC releases of the year, and that’s saying something, so it’s not for those who prefer a lighter approach. But if you’ve ever wondered what the DC Universe would look like when approached from a horror perspective in a way that doesn’t hold anything back, this one-shot is perfect for you. There’s so much potential here to explore because horror fans will know that there’s so much to do with the genre itself, and it’s great to see that no two stories feel the same.
“Bump in the Night” from Edward Lee and Howard Porter, with colors from Hi-Fi, is one of the more intriguing stories in the book; it asks the question: what if the baby that arrived on the Kent farm was ten times more violent and out of control than the Clark that we know? Martha is subjected to plenty of terror as Lee takes us inside her mind so we learn what is going on and what she is afraid of. Both Porter and Hi-Fi help add to the building of suspense as well as helping to flesh out the characters’ emotions successfully, making the terror feel all the more real.
Another highlight in this anthology is Nick Cutter and Rags Morales’ chilling “Last Laugh”, depicting an out of control Bruce Wayne. It’s haunting, brilliantly unnerving, and will stay with you long after you’ve read the book. It’s one of the closest in tone to what could have happened with Batman, and Morales’ art really brings the story to life by painting a frighteningly alarming portrayal of Bruce Wayne himself.
DC House of Horror is unfortunately not a flawless read; there are a couple of stories that weren’t really scary or chilling enough to fit with the rest of the collection, but for the most part, it’s a great experiment from DC that opens up plenty of potential. Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ll get to see of these ‘What if?’ ideas since what we’ve seen here is enough material to carry several series, and almost every one here feels unique. The book really makes the most out of the eighty pages that it has to offer. Even if you may not like one installment, it may be right up another reader’s street. So it has something for every horror fan, and whilst the asking price may be slightly higher than normal, if you think this is something you’re going to enjoy, chances are, you probably will.