We seem to be in the middle of a resurgence in horror, anthology themed comic books. Diablo House is the third series of this type that I have reviewed in the last year. The other series include the Grimm Tales of Terror and The Seance Room. I’m not exactly sure of the reason for this revival; it could be the current political climate or the popularity of series such as Black Mirror. As a fan of these types of books and their ability to use horror to tell a moral story, I went in with high expectations.
In typical anthology fashion, we have a host to greet us to our next thrilling tale. He gives us some backstory on the creation of the Diablo House. The Diablo House has become a tourist attraction in La Jolla, California and its pitch line is that it can make dreams come true. Issue two is set in the 1970s. We follow a wannabe pinball wizard named Lex who starts out as a stereotypical nerd. He has trouble with girls but has grand dreams for himself. He hears about the Diablo House and a visit there appears to change his luck. He eventually feels that God spoke to him and he feels his life’s mission is clear. The end of the world is coming and he will become a modern-day Noah. Can he master people as well as he has mastered the game of pinball?
These types of stories live and die by their hook. I feel the hook in this issue isn’t as shocking as it could be. The issue feels short and the story is a bit constrained. I kept waiting for the great climax and it came and went without great fanfare. The issue never gets a chance to build its characters or world enough to be memorable. I did have fun reading the issue and I appreciate the various easter eggs spread throughout. Fans of the genre will appreciate the work being done here, but it’s not executed to the highest level.
While the issue is good overall, Santipérez’s art is great and elevates the issue. His work is highly reminiscent of Bernie Wrightson, which seems to be a conscious choice. The issue has a spotlight on some of Wrightson’s work and a brief section on how House of Mystery and House of Secrets were clear inspirations for this series. The line work is strong with interesting perspective choices in many panels. Lex is rendered comically. He is shown as a typical 70s nerd with large glasses, awful clothes, and terrible teeth. The art has strong details that you don’t see in many comics these days. For example, backgrounds are fully rendered with plants showing individual foliage. Clothing also has accurate creasing, etc. The level of quality and attention to detail is striking. The A cover is fun and drawn well with nice colors and lighting, but it doesn’t convey the quality of the visuals inside. While the font choice is good, the cover doesn’t really sell the type of book you are picking up. I would have expected more of a tribute to House of Mystery, especially as compared to the EC inspired, Grimm Tales of Terror covers.
I give this issue 3.5 out of 5 stars. Diablo House #2 is a fun issue for fans of the genre, with incredible art, but it never reaches its full potential.
Written by Ted Adams
Art by Santipérez
Published by IDW