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"The Nice House on the Lake #1" Comic Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by DC Black Label

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Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Alvaro Martinez Bueno
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by AndWorld Design
2021, 31 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on June 1st, 2021

Review:

Walter has found a perfect way for a group of his friends to kick back and relax. In the wake of the pandemic, a group of people gather at a gorgeous house off the beaten path, allowing them to reconnect and feel human for the first time in ages. Walter made a game of it too, giving everyone nicknames like “The Writer” and “The Scientist.” The biggest reveal would come later, and while none of them would ever forget it, it was clear that some of them wouldn't survive it.

The Nice House on the Lake opens with a startling reveal, showing the fire and destruction that's waiting for these folks as Ryan Cane (aka “The Artist”) sets the stage. This not only gets right into the story but also puts us on edge throughout the entire issue. How could things possibly go from this idyllic estate in the woods to this dystopian setup that Ryan is sporting?

Colorist Jordie Bellaire works wonders on these pages too. You can feel the heat of the fire behind Ryan, shining brightly like a sun in a sea of darkness. As we move into the flashback portion, showing the guests arriving, the colors become more varied and welcoming. This is paradise we're dealing with. The tone shifts that night as Walter's big plan is revealed. The colors take on an eerie quality, shrouded in greys with hints of reds and pinks.

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The details of the twist have been kept quiet in the buildup to The Nice House on the Lake's release and I want to keep them that way. They're best experienced cold so you can get that metaphorical punch to the gut when the bombshell is dropped. Writer James Tynion IV definitely pulls that off, first by frightening us in the opening pages, then lulling us into a false sense of security as the guests arrive, and finally, shocking the system with a completely unexpected twist to close out the issue.

Part of what makes this issue work so well is how natural the characters and their interactions come across, particularly since we've been cooped up due to the pandemic for the past year-and-a-half. You can feel that excitement about getting out into the world permeating through the actions of each character, even without directly addressing it.

Tynion also addresses the awkwardness of adult friendships. Walter brought these folks together after meeting them throughout the course of his life. Some were from high school or college, others were at gatherings as an adult, and more. Think of how many actual relationships you have from those periods of your life. Most of us can count them on one or two hands, just like the amount of people that show up for Walter's party.

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Artist Alvaro Martinez Bueno's designs for each character also come across as completely natural. These feel like real people. Sure, some of them are a little pretentious, however you've probably met some people that act like them. Walter is the exception to this rule, as he's a bit of an odd duck. I love how you can't see his eyes through his glasses, giving him an unnatural vibe and certainly questioning how much you can trust him.

Bueno cranks up the scares in the final pages of The Nice House on the Lake #1, particularly with Walter. There's this great effect here that is done so masterfully. It immediately shows you what we're in for while also raising a slew of other questions. Just looking at it again now sends a shiver up my spine.

The symbology is heavy in The Nice House on the Lake. In addition to a nickname, each person gets a symbol. I have no earthly idea what any of them mean yet, but this adds another layer of mystery and intrigue to the series right out of the gate. I'm sure I'll be digging through this issue looking for clues as we get farther into the series.

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Letterer AndWorld Design turned in some terrific work, not just in the dialogue, but in these little blurbs that introduce each character. Each one has a great design aesthetic and really helps define the look and feel of the book. There are a few times where we bounce to an email or a scroll through Twitter in this issue and it drives home the setting and tone of the story.

The Nice House on the Lake is an amazing modern day horror story. It quickly introduces the characters and this world before setting them all on fire. We're constantly on edge through each page, creating one of the best horror reading experiences in recent memory. This is most definitely a comic to watch. Do not miss this.

Grades:

Story: fivestars Cover
Buy from Amazon US.
Cover
Buy from Amazon UK.
Cover
Tfaw Buy Button
Art: fivestars
Overall: 5 Star Rating

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About The Author
James Ferguson
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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