The Nice House on the Lake #1
Everyone who was invited to the house knows Walter - well, they know him a little, anyway. Some met him in childhood; some met him months ago. And Walter's always been a little...off. But after the hardest year of their lives, nobody was going to turn down Walter's invitation to an astonishingly beautiful house in the woods, overlooking an enormous sylvan lake. It's beautiful, it's opulent, it's private-so a week of putting up with Walter's weird little schemes and nicknames in exchange for the vacation of a lifetime? Why not? All of them were at that moment in their lives when they could feel themselves pulling away from their other friends; wouldn't a chance to reconnect be...nice?
With Something Is Killing The Children and The Department of Truth, James Tynion IV has changed the face of horror in modern comics - now get ready for his most ambitious story yet, alongside his Detective Comics partner Álvaro Martinez Bueno!
Uniquely described by DC Comics as “the next blockbuster horror franchise in the making”, The Nice House on the Lake kicks off with a first issue full of tension, dreadful worldbuilding and a rather large cast of characters who are clearly in over their heads. But does it accomplish enough to kick off a series with such lofty expectations, or does it need more time to develop the horror? It’s certainly got the blockbuster feel but some might find themselves maybe needing another issue before knowing for sure.
Tynion IV is clearly no stranger to horror, though as a writer his work has excelled in finding fresh approaches that don’t feel reliant on age-old tropes we’ve all seen over and over again. The prospect of a new horror comic under the DC Black Label spearheaded by Tynion IV was enough to garner more than enough interest for me to check this book out immediately, and luckily it didn’t leave me disappointed despite leaving me with a lot more questions than answers. Playing on overriding anxieties of the 21st century, the story is intricately plotted to set up what clearly becomes a rather straightforward premise…
Something isn’t right at the nice house on the lake.
The story is simple. A man named Walter has gathered around a dozen people who he has interacted with a various points in the past covering many different walks of life from an acupuncturist to a writer and more. The people are introduced with short descriptions from the host at the house, and though the reason for their gathering isn’t exactly known the common thread of Walther’s acquaintances runs through them all. This is where the anticipation builds in the first issue of The Nice House on the Lake, setting up a horror story that is far from by the numbers yet also familiar as well. A large group of people, terror lurking with just the turn of a page and an unknown force waiting to reveal itself all combine to give readers the feeling of so many horror classics before as we settle in to watch the worst unfold.
But this series doesn’t exactly cater to your expectations because the horrors that happen here have nothing to do with the house itself. As the world begins to crumble around this group of people, their host Walter turns out to be something unlike any of them and the story finds its footing with a strong horror force driving the narrative. A tale of apocalyptic proportions, now confined within this mysterious house trapped by a force that is every bit as scary as they are unknown. It’s a strong premise and sets up what could easily be an addicting horror story, but its clear the issue was also primarily meant to set up the cliffhanger. The tension builds to this moment and it feels like a prelude inviting readers to hold out for more soon.
While it doesn’t go much deeper into the story other than setting up this nightmarish scenario for the people in the house, the artwork does take some rewarding chances in establishing a haunting tone. This, along with the informational pages of text and strong letting create a pacing that moves briskly without feeling disjointed and contributes to the tension that becomes more and more noticeable. Alvaro Martinez Bueno delivered one of the spookiest covers this year by far, and while the first issue doesn’t really offer too many opportunities for outright displays of horror, it’s easy to appreciate the dark and moody aesthetic elevated by Bellaire’s washed colors that pull you from page to page.
It’s a creeping horror, one that starts as just a nudge while other more important things begin to happen, but soon it’s all you can think about and as the tables turn on the group involved, your own expectations begin to change as well. This unknown is where the horror works best in The Nice House on the Lake #1, making it a successful first issue even if you might not know exactly what is happening. You will definitely want to know more by the final page. Are the fires truly consuming the world around these people or is it just another trick? Who or what exactly is Walter? And what does the group do now to survive? There are so many questions that you are sure to have after finishing the first issue, but for the horror genre, they are the exact type of questions that will keep you coming back for more.
Where the series goes next is really quite difficult to predict and while it might not exactly be enough to set up your next favorite horror franchise just yet, it is absolutely worth your time diving into. There is sure to be a lot coming to light with the diverse and large group of characters, but with eleven issues still to go the series has plenty of time to let the horrors develop. Let’s hope it holds up as we continue learning more!
The Nice House on the Lake #1 is a creeping horror, starting as just a nudge while other seemingly more important events happen, but soon all you can think about is...something isn't right. Where the series goes next is really quite difficult to predict and while it might not exactly be enough to set up your next favorite horror franchise just yet, it is absolutely worth your time diving into.
The Nice House on the Lake #1: Seek Shelter Immediately
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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