“The Nice House On The Lake” – Book One
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Álvaro Martínez Bueno
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: AndWorld Design
Reviewed by Steve J. Ray
DC is unrivaled when it comes to making horror comics. There, I’ve said it. Let’s be honest here, since the heady days of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, fans have been treated to the likes of Preacher, Hellblazer, Lucifer, and Hill House Comics. Now we have The Nice House On The Lake #1, which stands up alongside the very best of all of them.
Fair warning, in my humble opinion this issue is made up of 28 pages of nothing but positives. From the opening scenes with our narrator setting the scene (wait… is she missing an eye? What’s happened to this woman?) you get a sense of creeping dread that you can’t quite explain.
James Tynion’s dialogue and pacing in this book are faultless and, even though there’s no “action” to speak of, it isn’t missed. What this issue does have is an atmosphere so dense that it makes Victorian London, Jack-The-Ripper style fogs feel simply light and fluffy in comparison.
We’re introduced to a small army of characters, that we immediately recognize and either start to like, laugh at, distrust, or simply detest. The way in which we meet them immediately sets the hairs at the back of your neck standing up, as every person has been studied and placed on a list, making them feel more like microbes being studied under a microscope, rather than as living, breathing human beings. The beauty part is, their dialogue is so true to life that when they speak, they feel so absolutely real and human that the fear levels rise exponentially.
I’ve loved Álvaro Martínez Bueno‘s art and have been raving about it for years. Not liked… LOVED. Just look at any of my reviews for Rebirth era Detective Comics and Justice League Dark, over on our sister site, Dark Knight News for proof. The amazing thing is, while this artist has never set a foot wrong, this could actually be the best art he’s produced to date. Clearly, James Tynion IV feels the same way about Álvaro and his work as I do, because both the runs I mentioned had these two stellar talents working together on them. When I heard that they were going to be reuniting on this series, I plagued the site’s editor with the firm demand that I be the one to review it.
From the domestic scenes in bars, lounging by the pool, and walking around an extremely nice house on the lake, everything looks gorgeous. Once again, though, the scene-setting at the beginning of the book makes all this beauty feel that much more threatening.
Even MORE positives
There are comics colorists, and there are color artists. Jordie Bellaire is an artist… plain and simple. The complete clashes in contrast; from hellish reds and oranges in some scenes to the cool blues and greens of the house, make a reader feel like they’re diving into icy waters after having been roasting in the flames of hell. Once again, everything Jordie has done elevates the script and the sumptuous art to even higher levels.
AndWorld Design must’ve felt like a kid in a candy store with this issue. I’ve spoken with Álvaro, about the email and electronic pages, in particular. The picture/photo insert parts are comics art, but the text, and web-page design style were all Deron Bennett/AndWorld. There are a ton of really great-looking comics out there, but this one looks different, fresh, unique, and gorgeous, thanks to this incredible collaboration between artist, color artist, and letterer.
You really haven’t been paying attention, have you? None, apart from possibly the fact that I don’t have issue #2 already… that’s probably just me being selfish and impatient, though.
The Nice House On The Lake #1 has been my favorite comic this week, and I read a lot! We get engaging characters, a thrilling new premise, terrific dialogue, and visuals as fantastic as you could ever hope to see. This comic isn’t just good, it’s mind-blowingly, flesh meltingly, eye-poppingly good… in so many ways. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you’ve read it… and you must.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment