13 November 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: The Houses of Mystery and Secrets, Part II: Showcase Presents The House of Mystery, Volume Two

Comic trade paperback, 552 pages
Published 2007 (contents: 1971-73)
Borrowed from the library
Read September 2013
Showcase Presents The House of Mystery, Volume Two

Written by Joe Orlando, Sergio Aragonés, Jack Oleck, Gerry Conway, Lore Shoberg, Len Wein, Sam Glanzman, Archie Goodwin, Lynn Marron, John Albano, Steve Skeates, Robert Kanigher, Virgil North, Carl Wessler, Mike Fleisher, E. Nelson Bridwell, Virgil Redondo, Bill Meredith, Joe Schenkman, Sheldon Mayer, Bill Riley, Maxine Fabe
Art by Joe Orlando, Sergio Aragonés, Nestor Redondo, Mort Meskin, George Roussos, Ralph Reese, Bernie Wrightson, Bernard Baily, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Gray Morrow, Alex Toth, Wayne Howard, Lore Shoberg, Nick Cardy, Gil Kane, Frank Giacoia, Jack Sparling, Leonard Starr, Dick Dillin, Mike Sekowsky, Sam Glanzman, Carl Anderson, Wally Wood, Jack Kirby, Rich Buckler, Bob Oksner, John Giunta, John Albano, Bob Brown, Tony Dezuniga, Adolfo Buylla, Ruben Moreira, Jim Aparo, Gene Colan, Sid Greene, John Prentice, Ernie Chua, Win Mortimer, Alex Niño, Gerry Talaoc, Alan Weiss, Ralph Reese, Bill Payne, Tom Palmer, Ernesto Patricio, George Tuska, Dan Adkins, Joe Schenkman, E. R. Cruz, Ruben Yandoc, Alfredo Alcala, Bill Riley, Rudy Nebres, Jose Delbo, Dan Green

The House of Mystery is hosted by (and the House of Mystery is resident to) Cain, who in The Sandman we'll find out is a resident of the Dreaming, so here I am. There's not a lot to him here, as in most of the issues, he's just there for a page of introductions, usually with some kind of quick gag. Cain has a well-developed personality in those comics, but there's not much to him here. Interestingly, "Sno' Fun!" (written by Sergio Aragonés, art by Wally Wood) establishes that the House of Mystery takes in tenants, one of whose tales Cain tells, but this is the only time we hear of this idea.

These were enjoyable stories, if less fun than those in The Witching Hour! or the earlier issues of The House of Secrets. I particularly enjoyed "Ghost Ship" (written by Jack Oleck, art by Jack Sparling), about a writer on a doomed 1858 sailing ship, and "The Poster Plague!" (written by Steve Skeates, art by Sergio Aragonés), where mysterious posters appear on a college campus, is interesting, even if it doesn't quite add up. Also,  I hope that the idea that a real space camp exists on Earth, as established in "The Secret of Camp Galaxy" (writer unknown, art by Bob Brown) is used elsewhere in the DC universe. I'm not sure the depiction of Death in "Mr. Mortem!" (writer unknown, art by Leonard Starr) is very consistent with Gaiman's, though.

There's an awful lot of people murdering their spouses for money-- especially men murdering women. I guess it quickly establishes where your sympathies should lie. The real highlight of the often-repetitive stories is the artwork: there's many talents you've heard of, and many you haven't, but their artwork is gorgeous, lush, and evocative; these stories wouldn't be half so good without it.

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