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"House of Fear: Dead Lake" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Ten31 Publishing

House Of Fear Dead Lake 00

Written by James Powell
Illustrated by Jethro Morales
Inked by Mike Erandio
Colored by Josh Jensen
Lettered by Matt Krotzer
2018, 40 Pages

Review:

If I'm sure of anything, it's that I never need to go camping. I learned that from tons of horror movies and comics over the years. Nothing good comes from going out into the woods. For now, I'll sit in the safety of my home and read about what happens to those that venture out into the wilderness. Such is the case with House of Fear: Dead Lake, where a group of kids share ghost stories around a campfire only to discover they're not alone. There's a monster lurking nearby and they're about to see it up close and personal.

House of Fear: Dead Lake starts out as you'd expect. A few friends are ragging on each other while roasting marshmallows. They're excited to be out on their own for the first time and still can't really believe that their parents allowed them to camp out like this. That excitement turns to uneasy terror after they discover an abandoned cabin filled with newspaper clippings about a local monster.

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Click images to enlarge

Each of the kids fits a stereotype of sorts, but it makes the book no less enjoyable. There's a prankster, a nerd, a fat kid, and the straight and narrow. This is a group we've seen in countless other stories and there's a good reason for it. They're easy to relate to and it's fun to see them in scary situations.

Writer James Powell steadily builds the tension in House of Fear: Dead Lake. It's filled with unsettling hints at a larger terror at work, but seen through the eyes of kids, adds to the fun and mystery. These characters aren't worn down by life yet, so finding something weird in the woods immediately sets their minds racing with possibilities. Under normal circumstances, these would be just excited works of imagination, but that's definitely not the case here.

When we finally do see the creature stalking them through the woods, it's a huge payoff. The anticipation gets to a high level and artist Jethro Morales comes through with a pretty great monster. It was not what I expected, delivering a new and frightening beast that would send any normal person running for home.

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Click images to enlarge

This thing is made of muscle and teeth. It towers over the children and they're armed with little more than a slingshot. This makes the final pages all the more harrowing. We're talking nail-biting levels of tension here. The monster's unearthly skin glows in a creepy way, making it clear that it doesn't belong in this world. Colorist Josh Jensen gives it a sickly green hue that stands out against the cool blues of the night and the red glow from the campfire.

Completing the package is Matt Krotzer's letters. Although the monster doesn't speak, it does growl and roar. You can practically feel the intensity of its rage with the harsh font used. This mirrors the terror felt by the kids as they scream and run.

House of Fear is on an absolute roll, as the all-ages horror anthology delivers hit after hit. Dead Lake is no different, as it's a solid, spooky read that stops just short of nightmare territory. Kids are the stars of the book and they're the ones that ultimately come through in the end. This is an ideal comic for adventurous kids or adults that still feel that way at heart.

Grades:

Story: Fourandahalfstars House Of Fear Dead Lake Cover
Art: Fourstars
Overall: Fourandahalfstars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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