Every week, trying to buy new comics can be a daunting task. If we’re being honest, comics aren’t cheap. When you prepare to make your weekly purchase, you likely already have your regular list of books featuring your favorite characters. Sometimes you have to move out of your comfort zone a little and try something new. This can be risky if you’re trying not to stray too far outside of your comics budget. When you see the writer of a new book is James Tynion IV, there is no risk at all.
Tynion has been on fire lately. He’s been kicking butt writing Batman for DC Comics. Department of Truth at Image Comics is amazing and will blow your mind with each issue. Something is Killing the Children at Boom! Studios is simply a creepy good time. Seeing his name at the top of the cover for The Nice House on the Lake should be all you need to see in order to pick up the book.
This would be a really short review if I left it at that. If you need more incentive to check out this book, take a look at the main cover by Alvaro Martinez Bueno.
While we’re talking about covers and before we get into the actual story, let’s take the time to admire the variant covers. A lot can be said about a series from it’s variants. The quality and specificity of the them can show how much attention a publisher is giving a book.
The Nice House on the Lake Book One has a variant cover by Martin Simmonds and a 1:25 variant by Werther Dell’Edera and Giovanna Niro. The fact that DC has decided to give this new series a 1:25 cover should tell you something.
As for the story, it opens in media res. Clearly something bad or chaotic has happened or is happening. We get our first glimpse at Ryan, one of the main characters, who begins to tell us of her life in the social scene. She would make her way around, catching up with friends and meeting acquaintances of those friends.
One day she met a man named Walter.
It’s the first panel with Walter that immediately grabs your attention. You may have come across someone like this. His body language says a lot. What’s with the glasses? What is he hiding behind them or what sort of statement is he trying to make? Then Walter asks the question, “How do you think the world will end?”
The topic of conversation and panel layout almost make you forget you’re reading a comic book. We can learn a bit from the replies and interaction between the two characters.
Ryan mentions the conversation continued with Walter beyond that first night. Then, their interaction suddenly stopped. She hadn’t heard from Walter for almost two years…until she received an email inviting her (and others) to a gorgeous lake house.
Tynion does a fantastic job introducing the various other characters. There is a system that Walter has set that is extremely useful for us readers. I found myself going back a couple times to double check a piece of information about some of the characters.
So far, it may sound like this is just a “nice” story about some friends getting together for an amazing getaway. Keep in mind, this is being published through DC’s Black Label imprint. That means it’s a mature book. If you’ve read some of Tynion’s other stories, you know the delightfulness of the situation is about to get turned on its side or flipped upside down.
Guiding us through this intriguing storyline is the phenomenal art by Alvaro Martinez Bueno. Along with Jordie Bellaire’s always extraordinary colors, it’s a visual feast for your eyes. You can see the glory in the opening previous pages above. Each panel is incredibly expressive and the color art enhances the imagery.
And if you’re not sold on the art yet, take a look at the two-page credits spread giving a better view of the house and the lake.
Believe it or not, these preview pages are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the issue goes. Obviously I cannot and will not go further into any detail on the story or plot. Tynion impressively introduces us to several “new” characters. Getting a sense of who’s who never feels overwhelming. The sense of mystery keeps you engage and makes you want to keep turning the page.
When you get about three-fourths of the way through, the metaphorical excrement starts to hit the fan. You get reminded of how the book opened even if it’s not fully clear just how Ryan got to that place just yet.
I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next and throughout this twelve-issue series, and I absolutely love that. This is a story unlike any I have read before.
The Nice House on the Lake is an astounding book. Reading this issue actually makes me feel fortunate that we get to experience this compelling story from a great writer joined by a superb art team. This may all sound like gushing praise, but I have to be honest. It’s not often these days I find myself so taken aback by a comic. Comics often fall into patterns and can get a little repetitive. TNHOTL is a fresh and captivating story.
Mark my words, this is going to be your new favorite book.