28 February 2014

Faster than a DC Bullet: The Houses of Mystery and Secrets, Part XV: House of Mystery: Conception

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2011 (contents: 2010-11)
Borrowed from the library
Read February 2014
House of Mystery: Conception

Writer: Matthew Sturges
Artists: Luca Rossi, Werther Dell'Edera, José Marzán, Jr.
Colorists: Lee Loughridge, Brandon Graham, Trish Mulvihill
Letterer: Todd Klein
Short Story Writers: Matt Wagner, Peter Milligan, Chris Roberson, Mike Carey
Short Story Artists: Marley Zarcone, Enrique Breccia, David Lloyd, Ulises Farinas, Gene Ha, Brandon Graham, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Michael Allred, Peter Gross, Stefano Landini
Short Story Colorists: Laura Allred, Daniel Vozzo
Short Story Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher, Sal Cipriano

The title of this volume implies answers, but they're in short supply. Or rather, meaningful answers are. Or rather, I think I'd care if anything had ever made any sense-- finding out what the Conception are up to only really matters if previously we'd ever been given anything to grab onto beyond "They're so mysterious!" There is half-hearted attempt at a cast page this time, but it's too little, too late. Fig and Cain spend most of this volume getting from one side of a house to another. And for some reason, the House of Secrets is in the Goblin Market now, and Abel is trying to run a bar out of it. Why? Who knows. Allegedly these characters ran a bar together in the House of Mystery because they couldn't leave, but now they're out and giving it a try regardless.

Still: there's some good short stories here. "The Mystery of the Missing Ghost" is a pretty uninventive Encyclopedia Brown pastiche and "Murder Most Foul"'s joke is ruined by the fact that Enrique Breccia's renditions of the characters are unrecognizable, but "Great Artists Steal" is creepy in the way that an old-time House of Mystery story would be (making it quite appropriate that Cain tells this one himself), while "Bloodsucker" is yet another awesomely terrible film script, and "Necessary Evil" is a delightful piece of metafiction.

The best part of this volume, as in The Beauty of Decay, is the special Halloween issue in the back, which sees a group of strange trick-or-treaters visiting not just the House of Mystery (where Fig is dressed as Supergirl!), but also Madame Xanadu, John Constantine, the girl from iZombie, and (best of all) Lucifer and Gaudium! Whoo! Now there's a real treat. Bring back Gaudium.

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