What in the world is going on here? That’s what we all said after reading the first issue of House of Penance, but certainly not in a bad way. The tone has been set for this series, it’s creepy as can be, and the line between paranormal and straight crazy is as blurred as possible.
The last issue was definitely just to set up the character of Sarah Winchester and the Winchester House itself, which is its own character at this point. Very little plot was built up last
issue, but more so, show the insanity of Mrs. Winchester or the evilness of the house. The second issue is no less enigmatic. We’re starting to get a clearer picture of what goes on during the construction. Also, while I wouldn’t say clear, we are seeing more of Mrs. Winchesters activities. If you were wondering if she is completely off her rocker or if there really is evil coming for her, the question you should be asking is how much deeper down the rabbit hole are we going?
Like most historical fiction, their liberties are taken, but the history of this story is teeming with mythology and legend, so it’s perfect to adapt into a supernatural horror comic. For those of you unaware of the real Winchester House and Sarah Winchester, let me explain, as this story is close to home, quite literally. I live under 2 hours away from the setting of this chilling tale. Following the death of her husband and young daughter, she took her share of the Winchester fortune of 20 million dollars (not inflated) and moved to San Jose, California and immediately began continuous construction making a farmhouse into massive mansion complex with nonsensical architecture, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 38 years until her death. Rumors for the reason of this, vary from her building enough rooms for all those lives taken by Winchester rifles, or to hide from or keep at bay, ghosts haunting her, or that she may have just been an eccentric rich woman who didn’t understand architecture. You don’t need this, but I want you to read as I do, as a local who grew up with these legends. With that said, I’m diving into this story to see a bizarre vision of a historical account that screams to be told as such.
Writing this eerie book is a veteran. After spending 15 years as DC editor on some major titles, Peter J. Tomasi made the change to writer. He wrote on Green Lantern’s Blackest Night and Brightest Day, as well as other DC staples. As good as the writing is, Ian Bertram’s depiction of this hellish home and its owner is what gives you goosebumps. Even without something more ominous happening, Mrs Winchester just sitting there is ghoulish enough to haunt you. I’ll end this with a thought from a much better writer than myself, Geoff Johns. House of Penance “makes you want to sleep with the lights on… Wraps you around the throat and doesn’t let go.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. Unless you’re a child, I say go pick up this book now… and read it early in the day.
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Ian Bertram
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Ian Bertram