(In honor of the return of House of Mystery to comic book racks everywhere, this is a special edition of the Weekly Dose focusing on the new Vertigo series. Enjoy!)
House of Mystery #1 -- Is that a fly eye? Like, from the beginning of Family Affair?
I. "Room And Boredom, Part 1: The First Drink Is On The House" -- (Framing Story) After enjoying a lovely spot of tea and murder with his brother at the House of Secrets, Cain returns home to find the House of Mystery has vanished. Meanwhile, a young woman narrowly escapes from her house, which collapses and then catches fire in the wake of a pair of Victorian style spooks. An architecture student, she clutches the blueprints of the strange house she saw in her nightmares as she flees, eventually ending up at the back entrance a bar. After dispatching her persuers, she enters the "bar" to find herself inside the House, with many other patrons. Before she arrives, though, we see the farewell party for Rena, who gets to leave with the mysterious Coachman in his black coach. We also meet Harry, the bartender; the unamed poet; Ann, a pirate lady; and Cress, who is so bored, she claims that she would paint a wall to watch it dry. We also meet Hungry Sally, who tells her story to the patrons to pay for her bountiful meal...
II. "The Hollows" -- Sally moves to the quaint small town named The Hollows with her parents modest inheritance money, and is quickly the toast of the town with all the young suitors. The most worthy, Albert, wins her heart, and the two are soon wed, and then expecting. But the pregnancy is difficult, and afterwards, Sally cannot find it in herself to care for the children, or her husband -- she feels only hollow inside. But the truth is substantially more gruesome -- The Hollows is a town inhabited by anthropomorphic flies, and she gives birth to a giant pile of bloody, writhing maggots -- which leaves her literally a hollow shell, with nothing inside.
Overall Weird Factor: 5 (out of 5) (Pretty much all for the short).
Okay, yeah. This is pretty obviously a Vertigo title. The story itself -- why everyone is stuck in the House, why do certain people get to leave, and so forth -- is very intriguing and has me wanting more. But the story that Hungry Sally tells, illustrated with a sort of cartoony aspect by Ross Campbell, is one of the most bizarre and just mind-walloping stories I have ever seen in any medium. Please bear that in mind if you are considering picking this up: it's pretty darn freak-out-worthy. Beyond that, the new format looks like it will have a lot of potential, not only for Weird little tales but also for the overall story arc. So let's call this a Weird success.