House of Mystery, Vol. 1: Room and Boredom

Greg Oleksiuk

An anthology series that is more than it seems that returns Vertigo to its roots.

Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Contributors: Luca Rossi and Various (Artists)
Price: $9.99
Writer: Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham
Length: 128 pages
Graphic Novel: House of Mystery, Vol. 1: Room and Boredom
Publication date: 2009-01

Vertigo got its start as a mature readers horror/fantasy imprint with such titles as Sandman, Books of Magic, Hellblazer and Swamp Thing. Over the almost 16 years that it has been in existence, the comic line has expanded its content however with the success of Fables, they seem to be returning to their roots to some degree. While Fables has been enjoyable, it has felt like Sandman-lite in some ways, invoking its use of mythology and stories, but without the subtext and dept that Sandman was able to convey. However, its popularity has spawned one spin-off title with several others in the works.

Vertigo has decided to build on the success of this by having the writers of Jack of Fables (with Willingham himself being the writer of Fables as well) bring their fantasy magic to a once long running DC Comics anthology series, House of Mystery from which, Neil Gaiman had borrowed characters from to populate his Sandman world. With this new incarnation, Willingham and Sturges create a comic that pays tribute to its anthology roots by having small anthology-like stories within the comic, surrounded by a bigger narrative for those who want a comic that feels like it has somewhere to go.

The main story centers on the House of Mystery itself and its occupants. The reader follows the newest occupant, Fig Reese as its introduction to the house and the mysteries that surround it. This is the main bulk of each issue, with a few pages dedicated to a story that one of the occupants tells, written by either Sturges himself or sometimes Willingham with artwork by a guest artist for each issue. It has to be said that Willingham’s name above the title is a little misleading, as he only writes the first two mini-stories. It rather feels like Vertigo wants Willingham’s name on the cover to appeal to the Fables crowd and thus asks that he writes a couple of these stories every few issues or so. This is however, Sturges’ baby all the way.

Luca Rossi’s artwork is quite Fables-like, which I would assume was a conscious decision by Vertigo and the writers, however there is a darker tone to it. It does suit Sturges’ storytelling style and gives an eerie look to the book while at the same time feeling playful. The guest artists are each a wonderful and add a nice contrast to Rossi’s artwork and they allow the reader to feel like they are experiencing a story within a story. The covers by Esao Andrews are also a beauty to behold and depict the darker side of this horror anthology as well as a beauty all at the same time.

Sturges and Rossi create a world that is interesting and enough “mysteries”, pun intended, to draw in readers to see where this is going. The horror/fantasy side of Vertigo as been quite sparse in the past few years and this comic is a welcome addition to that genre that shows there is still a market for it.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.