HoM #27, a great cover and an issue that takes the series to a whole new height of excellence. Issues like this will restore your faith in modern comics.

Every now and then an issue comes along and reminds you exactly why you read comics in the first place. HOUSE OF MYSTERY #27 did that for me yesterday.

I’ve been reading DC VERTIGO’s revived HoM title since it relaunched nearly three years ago, and it’s been a fantastic read the entire time. For those who remember the first ten years of VERTIGO, this comic feels more like that era than any other current book. It’s also a lovingly created and executed extension of the classic HOUSE OF MYSTERY that DC published in the 60s and 70s. It’s been a satisfying and often mind-blowing monthly title…I say it ties with SCALPED for VERTIGO’s best ongoing title.

Yesterday I read the new issue #27 and it left me slackjawed and in awe. I might say it’s the Best Issue Thus Far. Most of the issues are divided between the ongoing storyline (with terrific art by Luca Rossi) and “flashback” stories that are told by guests of the House (i.e. various strange characters from parallel worlds and alternate planes of reality). This has been a part of the book’s charm from the get-go, and there have been some amazing “guest appearances” by some truly great art teams. But this week’s issue topped them all.

Brendan McCarthy, whose amazingly psyechedelic work I first discovered  on SHADE THE CHANGING MAN (one of my all-time favorite comics) does a “flashback” story told by Mac the Sorcerer, an aging wizard leading some of the main characters on a journey through time. This story involves Mac relating his origin: As a soldier fighting in the Vietnam war, he made the mistake of taking a tab of LSD sent to him in a letter by a shady relative. As soon as he did this, all Hell broke loose and the blood-n-guts began flying…his mind is reeling through this intense LSD trip and he’s caught in a horrorific mass of flesh and metal. At this point a mysterious sorcerer arrives, takes him to a place beyond time, trains him for five years in the Secrets of the Universe, and returns him to the exact moment from which he was taken. Wow.

HoM #3, one of my favorite covers.

McCarthy’s excellent artwork brings the phantasmagorical nature of Mac’s experience to life, and he combines surreal enlightenment and the horror of war with such skill as to make the reader’s eyes widen in sheer wonder.

HoM writer Matthew Sturges does a brilliant job of narrating this “long strange trip”…I’ve never read anything like this sequence. (Except maybe a few of the classic moments from SHADE THE CHANGING MAN.) It’s a marriage of words and pictures that creates true synergy and reaches the height of comic book storytelling. It’s the kind of thing we need to see far more in today’s comics…it is true genius at work.

The rest of the issue, unfolding simultaneously with the war flashback, chronicles the vicious battle between the Goblins of Stormfort and a pack of Flying Killer Robots. Luca Rossi’s art is simply gorgeous. All of this and we have the original Cain and Abel (stars of the classic HOUSE OF MYSTERY) lurking in the background, sometimes coming forth to play a major role.

If you’re looking for a comic that will restore your faith in the medium, try HOUSE OF MYSTERY. It’s got everything you could want in a VERTIGO comic, a horror comic, a fantasy comic, or a great comic in general.