“The Nice House On The Lake” – Book Two
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Álvaro Martínez Bueno
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: AndWorld Design
Reviewed by Steve J. Ray
If you haven’t read issue #1, stop reading this review, go out and buy a copy, or download one from your digital supplier of choice right now. The Nice House On The Lake #2 builds on the rock solid foundations of the first issue, and ramps up on the fear and horror. This series is one of the best written and most visually impressive comics available, and if it isn’t on the next Eisner Awards nominee list, then there’s no justice in the world.
This is truly ironic, as this series is built on the premise that there is no world anymore, except for the idyllic area around the house, and the lake.
Once again, this is a comic that has a grade A* positive DNA make-up. We learn more about each character, find out the origins of the man(?) who gathered them all together, plus receiving the first clues as to why.
Since the dawn of science fiction we’ve been presented with stories about the end of the world; who would survive, how and why. Yes, this is one of them, but it’s one that turns the notion on it’s head… or knocks it on its butt. Or both. This is a comic where the protagonists have been given paradise, at the cost of losing anyone and everyone they ever knew, as the world dies around them. Of course, they weren’t given a choice, and that’s part of the reason this comic is so compelling.
If you were given the perfect home in the perfect setting, were told that it would be yours forever, and that you’d never need or want for anything again, would you take it? If you were then told that you’d be amongst a group of loose acquaintances, or complete strangers, surviving while the rest of the world is doomed, dead or dying… would your answer still be the same one?
Deep As A Lake
That’s where we come into book two. The world has ended in flames, with billions scorched and melting, while a lucky few survive. The premise is fascinating, the writing and dialogue first rate, and the art…
I mentioned last month that this series offers the ultimate collaboration between line-artist, color artist and letterer. The Nice House On The Lake #2 gives us more of that, but astonishingly manages to ramp it up yet another notch. Last time it was web pages and emails that blurred the lines between the three artists and their roles. This time it’s video surveillance footage, and transcripts of the inhabitants’ conversations. Did these people survive because they were saved by a man(?) with noble intentions, or are they all part of a sick and twisted social experiment?
Álvaro Martínez Bueno doesn’t just draw the shocking and horrific beautifully, there are very few artists who can deliver the ordinary and mundane as gorgeously as he does. The college bedroom depicted in this issue is so scarily like my own was, that I had to do a double take. The bookshelves in the library contain so may of my all-time favorite books and graphic novels, that I feel like the artist may have been squatting in my brain for the last thirty years.
Then along comes Jordie Bellaire with the some of the freshest and unique color work I’ve seen in years. Then Deron Bennett joins the party, producing old school typewriter fronts alongside 21st century tech. What we get is comics alchemy the likes that would make Isaac Newton and Paracelsus jealous.
The characters start putting two and two together in this issue, but when they work it all out I feel that they may wish they hadn’t even tried.
I think everyone secretly prays for a comic-book or TV show to come along, that grabs them from the first chapter and then keeps delivering. In reality, most stories take a few instalments to set up, and then deliver random hits and misses through the rest of their tenure. The Nice House On The Lake reeled me in from the off, and it’s possible that issue #2 may even be better than the opener.
This series is must read.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment