Month after month the book I am always the most excited to pick up is Mathew Sturges’ House of Mystery. This is a very, very special series. Its one long love letter to storytelling. It’s about what stories tell us about human experience and how stories themselves help us relate and make sense of those experiences. I can’t overstate my admiration for Matthew Surges. He doesn’t shy away from tackling those really big ideas about loss and longing, decay and disappointment, about soldiering on after crossing that line you never thought you would. It’s really hard to write about these things without coming off as a dumbass. However, Sturges does so elegantly because he doesn’t pretend to have an overview perspective. The immediacy of our experiences snatches the very prospect of ever gaining that prospective. This is why we need stories.
House of Mystery 25, titled the Exquisite Corpse, is an exceptional issue from an extraordinary series. The book gains its title, as Mathew Sturges explains in a special writer’s column at the end of the issue, from an experimental literary technique where a group of writers compose a single story by writing a segment and then handing it off to the next writer. The writers that Sturges has collected in this experiment truly is impressive. The culprits consist of regular partner in crime Bill Willingham, comic new comer Dave Justus, industry legend Paul Levitz, The Dreaming vet Alisa Kwitney, and of course Matthew Sturges himself.
The CBR review complains that “It’s not a bad idea, per se, but it’s one that has a huge reset button the second Willingham kills off his first character, and from there the entire story feels like an exercise in inevitability.” So what? Not every story needs to be measured against its impact on continuity. This is a great story about the art of telling stories, with a bunch of wonderful character moments in between. If you can’t appreciate that than you have no business reading anything. This little blurb is also pretty misleading as it implies this book is completely filler. In fact this book does more than the previous 24 issues to cement this story in The Sandman universe. That a pretty big shift in my opinion.
Final Verdict: A-