03rd Jun2021

‘The Nice House on the Lake #1’ Review (DC Black Label)

by Dean Fuller

Written by James Tynion IV | Art by Alvaro Martinez Bueno | Published by DC Comics

So, what does this hard working comic book reviewer choose to review on one of the hottest and sunniest days of the year so far? A horror book. Yep, not the most natural choice I know, but two things pushed this to the top of the review pile. One, that gorgeous cover, almost a modern take on those old classic EC and DC mystery book covers. Those covers always drew you in, tempting you with the promise of a story that usually didn’t live up to the billing but certainly made you spend your money before you realised. The second reason was the writer, James Tynion himself. Tynion has a certain sensibility that carries across all of his work, be it superhero or non. Often offbeat, creepy at times, unique, never boring, and always leaves you with a question or two in your mind. Tynion plus horror looks like a bulls eye to me.

Let’s take a look.

Tynion goes in all guns blazing, with a guy and girl chatting in a bar, the guy casually asking his companion how she thinks the world will end. He seems to like her answer, and seems to have more than a passing interest in the subject matter…but that’s just Tynion’s initial tease of course. We’ll come back to that later…The man in question is Walter, and Walter has decided to send out an invitation to various acquaintances of his to come and spend a week’s vacation in an isolated lake house in Wisconsin. Because that always ends well… Walter seems a nice enough guy to those who know him, a little odd maybe buy hey, a free lake house holiday is a free lake house holiday. Suckers.

They arrive one by one. The Artist, Ryan Cane. The Writer, Norah Jakobs. The Comedian, David Daye. The Accountant, Molly Reynolds. The Scientist, Veronica Wright. The Reporter, Sam Nguyen. The Acupuncturist, Arturo Perez. The Consultant, Sarah Radnitz. The Doctor, Naya Radia. The Pianist, Rick MacEwan. Why the code names? One of Walter’s silly little games it seems, but everyone’s happy to play along. Speaking of Walter, the host arrives. So far, nice stuff. A little conventional, the ‘get a bunch of people together in one place and then bad things start happening’ routine, but well written and superbly illustrated. Is Tynion getting a little conservative in his storytelling?

That’s a negative, as once our cast are happily sipping martinis and eating steaks off the barbecue, someone discovers the rest of the world seems to be on fire. Social media has gone crazy, reporting people on fire, eyeballs exploding, the President dead, cities ablaze. Remember that whole end of the world conversation Walter had at the beginning? Looking pretty relevant right now. Without giving it all away, Walter is involved in the end of the world, just not directly. He has personally selected this group of people to be saved while the rest of the world dies. The one proviso? You can never leave. Ever. Tynion leaves us wondering, what would we do?

This was just a little way short of sensational. Superb writing as expected from Tynion, but simply stunning art from Bueno. Be it the breathtakingly good double page spreads, or the intricate single panel detail, this was stunning art. Tynion’s writing was almost second fiddle to the art, when I assumed the art would have to be decent to do Tynion’s work justice. That being said, Tynion did a fine job with the story. It felt to begin with almost like one of those old Hammer Film ensemble movies, as the group of people established themselves. I thought I knew where the story was headed, and then it went off completely in the other direction. Great plot, a cast of interesting characters, gorgeous locations, this should be showing on HBO Max.

Until that time, buy this.

It is nothing short of brilliant.

***** 5/5

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