By Dustin Cabeal
For ten bucks you get 80 pages of horror set in the DC Universe. I’ll start by telling you the good thing about this comic. If you like EC Comics style of stories, then you’ll probably love the hell out of DC House of Horror #1. Unfortunately, the other half that has refined their tastes in horror from digesting a massive amount of horror over the years may end up being a little bored by this issue.
What you’re also likely to miss and really should be pointed out, is that all of the stories are plotted by Keith Giffen. All of them. There are different writers for each story, but each and every one of them has a plot by Giffen. I’m pointing this out because they all end up having the same tone and vibe. They all come across as being written by the same person, which is just nuts. There’s so much damn talent on this comic, and yet all of the stories just feel like a Giffen joint. Looking back at the list of stories, the pacing and plot are damn near the same. The only thing that sets them apart is the twist ending and the character. Even then, the twists end up feeling predictable and repetitive.
There’s a Batman story of course, and it’s painfully predictable and a bit too similar to a story Daniel Bayliss did years ago. Sure, most people haven’t read that story, but those who have are going to tilt their head when reading this tale.
The idea of this is comic is great. It’s just that someone really should have taken a step back and asked the question, “Are these all too similar to each other?” It’s like watching a condensed version of The Twilight Zone over and over, but the theme is horror. After a few stories, you just become numb to it and push on to the twist. With so many horror styles and genres out there, it’s a shame that every story in this comic with maybe the exception of two could be considered murder stories and nothing more.
It’s a shame that all of the stories needed to have some kind of conclusion in this issue because there are some inklings of bigger stories that could be done. It’s just that the ending is rushed to which kills any interest in continuing with the story. That and none of them are that good, making it even more frustrating. None of these stories stood out to me. Hell, I couldn’t even remember half of them until I looked at the comic again, they’re forgettable.
The art varies a bit, but for the most part, every artist is doing their best EC Comics style. Except for Howard Chaykin, he just illustrates the same person he always does, and you hope that the fucking dialogue will clue you in as to who said character is supposed to be. That aside, none of the art is impressive or memorable. I only remember Chaykin’s art because I dislike it so much and so seeing it angers and upsets me. There are some notable names on this comic, but you’re unlikely to recognize their artwork. I know I didn’t and against it’s because they’re trying for the EC Comics style, which is personally a dated style for horror. It had its time and place; we’re not there anymore.
As a fan of horror, I can appreciate this comic and everything it was attempting. Hell, I’m happy DC made it, but there are so many missteps, and worse missed opportunities. This could have launched a horror line at DC, but when you just use the same idea over and over and switch out characters and twist endings, then it’s hard to get anything new going. Maybe next year they’ll try again and actually let the pool of talent they wrangled tell stories with variety.
Score: 2/5 (Chaykin gets a 1/5)
DC House of Horror #1
Plot: Keith Giffen
Publisher: DC Comics