House of Mystery is such a colossal sprawling mess… and I absolutely love every page. This book demands that we treat it as more than just disposable images to be consumed in 10 minutes and then be done with it. If you haven’t re-read this series at least twice you aren’t reading this book right. In fact if you’re not familiar with this series don’t even read this review. There is no way to just sample this book. You need to devote yourself to it.
Although it may seem at times that story is perennially at risk of disintegrating under the weight of all its tangential storylines and parenthetical ideas this perception is demonstrably false. For anyone who claims this book is losely plotted I could name a myriad of occasions where plots were forshadowed long in advance, such as:
- The Thinking Man. he Summerland war and the mind worms are all referenced as early as in issue 4,
- the conception mentions employing the thinking man in issue 9,
- The first mention of the space in between is issue 9,
- Cress hints at Rina’s history in issue 3,
- Underhil’s has an anonymous short prose story, where he hints at being a dragon and explicitly declares his love for Ann, in issue 9,
- Genevieve first appears in issue one as a background character before her first speaking apperance in issue 12
- Tursig ascension is first referenced in issue 14 where an Peter and Kevin are attacked by Goblins in a desolated Stormfort Itinerant Bazaar (I assume a future?).)
Personally, I love Sturges’ extensive supporting cast of characters. He loves to play with all of them but always makes sure to never diminish their integrity as characters; he never treats them flippantly. However, it is hard to keep up with all the characters as they slide back and forth from the background to the foreront. I had almost forgotten who the hell Byzantium Mack was until his flashback story when I remembered his first appearance in issue 6. But this is in keeping with a lot of themes of the House of Mystery. Was it not only a few issues ago where Fig was pondering over the nature of feeling sidelined in the narrative one’s own life?
Speaking of Fig’s soliloquies, I think they are all beautifully done. This issue I realized how ingenious it was that they are written in the past tense. Although it may seem as if the story is digressing down a rabbit-hole, this past tense assures us that the story, as it has already occured, is progressing exactly where it needs to go.
This issues sees a couple storylines coming to a head, particullarly the Stufftytown subplot converging with the Summerland war. This convergence culminated in the following awesome scene:
Peter, Keel and Strawberry have finally escaped the space between and have acquired bodies. They’re in search of a yet unnamed 4th recruit for the coming war against the conception. It seems likely this person to be Harry, therefore gathering pretty much all the hanging threads in the story.
Final Grade: A, House of Mystery is literature for those who love stories. And love them particularly because they are how we endure our own heavy hearts.
Post-Script: Its pretty f’ing cool to see more interior art from Andrews.