The Nice House on the Lake #1 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Artist; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: There is probably no one in comics riding a hotter streak right now than James Tynion IV, especially in creator-owned books. He’s got all-ages fantasy (Wynd), high-intensity horror (Something Is Killing the Children), and dense conspiracy suspense (The Department of Truth). Now, he adds a highly inventive suspense thriller to that portfolio with this pitch-black thriller from Black Label. We open with a strange flash-forward to a one-eyed woman talking about the first time she ever met a man named Walter—an odd man obsessed with finding out how she thinks the world will end. They drift apart, and she doesn’t think much about him—until she receives an e-mail inviting her and a bunch of other acquaintances to a large lake house.
In the present day, Ryan joins a whole bunch of people in Walter’s circle at this giant palatial manor in the woods. It’s a very diverse group, made up of high-school, college, and adult friends of his—many of whom don’t know each other. There’s even a trans major character, in an appropriate touch for Pride month. Tynion’s always been committed to diversity in a lot of ways, so this isn’t a surprise. They get to know each other, and in a weird touch, they’ve all been given a designation—a title like “the artist” or “the acupuncturist” that is used to introduce them to the others. Things are quiet—almost a little too quiet—and then they take a pitch-black tone for absolute horror that even took me by surprise.
Only one character seems to have a working cell phone, and what she finds out is nightmarish. The world is in ruins through some sort of firestorm, and a double-page spread of the world ending live on social media is one of the most chilling scenes that Alvaro Martinez Bueno has ever drawn. What unfolds from there is a shocking series of developments, a gruesome last-second surprise, and the reveal of one of the most terrifying characters in modern comic history. This issue is a master class in suspense, although it does require you to go along with a rather leisurely pace to get to the ghastly surprises. This feels like it’s going to be an exceptional slow-burn horror saga, and few are better at writing those than James Tynion IV.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.