"Diablo House #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Ted Adams
Illustrated by Santipérez
Colored by Jay Fotos
2017, 32 Pages
The horror anthology comic is a cornerstone of the genre in this medium. They have offered up-and-coming and veteran creators alike the opportunity to tell a quick one-and-done story, often with several of them packaged together in one book. In the case of Diablo House, a new creator-owned series from IDW CEO/Publisher Ted Adams along with artist Santipérez and colorist Jay Fotos, it's more of the Twilight Zone approach. Each issue will feature a standalone tale. The book kicked off as part of IDW Publishing's Creator Showcase Humble Bundle and you can get an exclusive signed copy of it through the bundle for a limited time.
Diablo House features a building by the same name where presumably a bunch of crazy spooky stuff happened. It's a tourist attraction with a surfer dude named Riley acting as your host and narrator. He's telling the stories while also sharing them with the people that paid for a tour of the place. The first tale features a couple who work to swindle a fast food fish restauranteur out of millions until they ultimately get what's coming to them. This isn't much of a surprise as it's a tried-and-true formula in stories like these.
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What's odd about this particular story given the premise of the book is that it appears to have absolutely nothing to do with the Diablo House itself. It just took place in the same general area. It would be like a Friday the 13th book called Camp Crystal Lake, but the story was about something weird that happened in the next town over and does not involve Jason Voorhees. This creates a massive void where a real connection should exist. Why should I care about the Diablo House if it is in no way related to the story about the fish place?
The real star of Diablo House is artist Santipérez. His work is incredible. It's well detailed and full of life. It's like a cross between Bernie Wrightson and Gabriel Rodriguez. This is especially seen in RC, the main character of the fish story. You see this man go through an emotional journey from down-on-his-luck loser to manipulative businessman to washed-up drunk. Santipérez's art conveys so much in just a few panels. You can feel the weight of this guy's life as it brings him down further and further. Adams doesn't have to explain every little detail as to what happened to him because it's all there on his face.
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This backfires with the design for the narrator Riley. He's a beach bum with long hair, a straggly beard, board shorts, and flip-flops. He looks like a cool guy but nothing even remotely scary. This is not the kind of person you'd expect to be sharing spooky stories. He's a far cry from Uncle Creepy or the Cryptkeeper.
The Diablo House itself is a building made of fear and dread. It's something you would drive quickly past to avoid being stuck in its shadow for too long. It looks like it was carved out of the earth by a mad sculptor using sharpened bones for tools. Jay Fotos' colors give it life in a strange contrast. At first glance, you might think it's just a strange hotel as the sun glints off the many windows, but then you get a deeper look and see the evil lurking in every brick.
Diablo House is a by-the-numbers horror anthology with a promising premise that falters in this opening tale. If the story were tied to the house in even a tangential way, it would have resonated a lot more. It's worth checking out for Santipérez's artwork though. This is an artist to watch, as he is delivering some amazing work here. Plus, if you pick this up through the Humble Bundle, you're helping out charity in the form of Traveling Stories and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and you get over $400 worth of comics for a minimum of $25.