By Ben Snyder
Welcome to Diablo House, where morality-themed knock-offs of Twilight Zone stories get told. Calling them knockoffs can sound negative, and while not all bad, Diablo House #1 doesn’t instill much hope for the future of this horror anthology series.
After a lengthy interlude of a shirtless surfer bro with a ram chest tattoo, Diablo House tells the tale of a pair of young lovers who eventually make it big in business. Eventually, their greed gets the better of them, and it all comes crumbling down. After reading the brief story, I couldn’t get past the feeling of dissatisfaction. First of all, the actual allegory only lasts a brief 14 pages. The surfer dudes introduction in comparison lasts the first 12 pages. So to begin with the story doesn’t have a lot of real estate to work with.
Secondly, the tale being told isn’t that interesting or original, to begin with besides the twist at the end. A small time couple make it big in the fast food fish taco industry, and greed corrupts them, and they eventually split up and die alone. That’s pretty much the gist of the story. It’s a well worn out cliché that could have potentially offered some unique spins or originality, but writer Ted Adams chose not to.
The Host character of Diablo House holds some of the reader’s fascination but his overall he is more a nuisance. After going on a diatribe about how certain people have all the luck -typical targets shown such as Trump substitute, Jackson Pollack substitute, and stereotypical pop star- Riley, as we learn his name is, holds himself superior to these cutouts because he has survived numerous dangerous surfing adventures. While all of this is seemingly meant to be read tongue in cheek and played for laughs, it doesn’t work as well as Adams plans. Riley comes off annoying and brash as your typical surfer bro. Maybe if he gets toned down and is added intrigue, the lengthy introduction by him will become more bearable in future issues.
Artist Santi Pérez does his best to add some interesting elements to that art, but overall nothing is really exceptional. Most of the pages feel cluttered with word bubbles and obtrusive panel layouts. In some moments of intense action, there are cool touches Pérez uses to add flair to the issue when RC proposes Angie has black hearts floating around and when Angie’s mom kills herself skulls form behind her head- but ultimately the exaggerated figure work makes all the characters grotesque and seemingly bulbous.
Maybe that is the point that Pérez wants to get across with his art, that these characters are not pretty, they are ugly, and they are people. But ultimately I don’t think it works as well as he wants it to. Often due to the clutter of word bubbles, the bloated figures take up a majority of the panels, which obscure the beautiful architecture. It’s a shame because the way Pérez draws Diablo House is beautiful and I wish I could see more of his scenery.
While it does seem like I ranted about how poor Diablo House #1 was, I want it to be clear that I am more so disappointed at what could have been. Twilight Zone is one of my favorite shows of all time and I desperately hoped this could exist in the same vein as it. However, there are some series pitfalls in this issue that need to be dealt with if Diablo House wants more visitors.
Diablo House #1