"The House #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Sucker Productions
Written by Phillip Sevy
Illustrated by Drew Zucker
Colored by Jen Hickman
2017, 19 Pages
It's bad enough that a small group of soldiers in World War II are stranded in the woods during a big snowstorm. They are forced to take shelter at a creepy house within the forest. Now the house won't let them out. Everywhere they turn just brings them further and further into the dwelling. Tension is riding high and these men are carrying loaded rifles. This won't end well.
Every time it looks like these soldiers are about to find some glimmer of hope, the house takes it away. It's rather cruel in a way. What did they do to deserve such torture? We get an idea of one possibility from Lyle who is haunted by the ghosts of his past. Perhaps this is a way to pay for his crimes.
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In one of the most frightening sequences of the book – and probably all year, artist Drew Zucker illustrates a simple shot of two soldiers in darkness, each holding a lighter. Their faces are illuminated and the flame is strong...then they hold them up and they instantly regret that decision. There are true horrors lurking in the shadows. If you ever wanted an example of how comics can scare you, look no further than this scene.
Jen Hickman's colors round out the scene nicely. The lighters give off this brilliant glow which swiftly cuts through the darkness. You'd think that might lead to hope or salvation. Instead, it's a bloody mess of dead faces, each more battered than the last. They're a mix of red gore and pale, decaying flesh, all lit by the glimmer of the lighters.
Aside from this bit with Lyle, we don't get much in the way of character development. The soldiers are still rather generic. The house itself is the real star, as it toys with these men. Under normal circumstances, this would hurt a story, but it makes The House even stronger. Since these men are so run-of-the-mill, they could be anyone. Their normalcy makes them relatable because any regular person would react in a similar fashion if faced with this unsettling situation.
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The creative team makes this soulless structure an intimidating and ominous force. It's a villain in the purest sense of the world. It's impressive that they're able to convey such an absolute sense of evil without the benefit of a face or even a voice. This is done subtly over time. The house lures the soldiers into a false sense of security and then reality sets in. This realization is horrifying.
The House is an absolutely stellar independent horror comic. The scares never stop as these poor men struggle to survive as the very building they're in tries to snuff them out. I'm afraid to turn the page, but I have to see what's going to come next.