Review – The Nice House on the Lake #1: Getaway to Horror

Comic Books DC This Week
The Nice House on the Lake #1 variant cover, via DC Comics.

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.

A look forward. Via DC Comics.

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.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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