So, just because I mostly review superhero books here doesn’t mean that’s all I read. It’s more like that’s the overwhelming majority of what DC Infinite and Marvel Unlimited have to offer.
But there’s the occasional horror book like the Black Label title The Nice House on the Lake that does something worth noticing too.
Issue: The Nice House on the Lake #2, June 2021
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
The Plot: The survivors of an apparent apocalypse take stock of where they are.
Commentary: Yeah, I’m gonna give it to The Nice House on the Lake for a real swerve. I was not expecting the way the first ended to go that way. I knew the series was (probably) a horror series, but then the actual horror kicked in and it was, well, horrifying.
Essentially, a fellow named Walter invited his closest friends to a nice house on a secluded lake. Most of the people there are folks who have known Walter for years, aside from a single young woman who only just met him somewhat recently. Then, as the group was playing catch up, one of them finally gets connected to the house’s wifi only to see, well, the rest of the world was basically destroyed by fireballs from the sky. Footage of people melting away was all over the place, and Walter, well, he apparently wasn’t human as revealed when one of his guests took a swipe at him with a fireplace poker, causing some sort of odd damage to Walter and wrecking the woman’s arm in the process.
So, that’s a hell of a way to end a first issue. The second, changing the focus to a different member of Walter’s friend group, continues as the group takes stock of where they are, what they have, and whether or not they can leave the house.
The short answer to that last one is no. One guest goes out for a walk and comes back claiming that an invisible barrier is preventing them from leaving. As it is, the house is fully stocked with food, reading material, specialized relaxation rooms for each member of the group, and so forth. Whatever Walter was up to, he did what he could to make his friends comfortable. And when the supplies run out, there are apparently plenty of how-to manuals.
But man, this is heavy stuff. As I read it, I mostly wonder what’s going on. I don’t have a firm enough grasp on the different characters to say much about them yet. Heck, I don’t even really remember most of their names as I type this. This issue’s narrator is Rick, there with his wife…and one woman was invited without her husband, so that guy is toast somewhere. Rick was Walter’s roommate in college, and he has a memory where Walter was clearly thinking he was going to have to do something terrible, and now that something terrible has happened, well, it looks like that conversation means something else entirely in retrospect.
But there’s still a lot of mystery. What exactly Walter is isn’t known even as he still appears to Rick (at the least). There’s a statue outside of some symbols Walter assigned to each guest, and touching it allows the person to see the outside world. It isn’t pretty. Someone appears to be keeping a transcript of various conversations, and the Internet is still working. It’s just that no one seems to be, you know, updating it, and there’s only so much footage anyone can watch of people melting.
It’s possible this all is some sort of trick or illusion, but I am inclined to think not at this point. So, what’s going on? What is Walter? And what happened?
I don’t know, but I look forward to finding out more.