The Secrets of the House of Mystery
After all the nice things said about this series, as well as the release of the new Constantine series I finally decided to try this series, and I'm very glad that I did, as the Books of Magic storyline was phenomenal, and this series as a whole as been one of the most unique series I've read from the New 52, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
John Constantine talks to A.R.G.U.S.and there top expert Johnny Peril about trying to find Zatanna and Tim Hunter, whilst Frankenstein, Black Orchid, and Amethyst search The House of Mystery, finding some surprises along the way.
Although this was yet another good issue in this marvellous series, it was however easily the worst I've read, but that just goes to show how good a series it is, when a issue as good as this is the worst. Jeff Lemire has done a very good job at giving us a nice fun issue to fill the gap between storylines, but at the end of the day it was nothing more than a filler, even if a fun filler. Lemire did however do a brilliant job of bringing newer readers up to speed with the shocking conclusion to the previous story, whilst also giving a very fun, and unique story, making this a very reader friendly issue, as you don't have to have read the previous story to enjoy this one, although I'd still recommend getting it if you can, as it was nothing short of phenomenal. I also liked that Lemire decided to use this opportunity to explore the House of Mystery a bit more, as with this being nothing more than a filler it's the perfect time, but I'll talk more about that later on in my review. Lemire did however also manage to keep a dark enough feel to this issue whilst still making it very fun, which I liked, as it wasn't too dark.
The art in this issue was what really disappointed me. I've really been enjoying Mikel Janin's art on this series, and although Graham Nolan, and Victor Drujiniu did a decent job, it was nowhere near as good. Don't get me wrong it wasn't terrible, and I have seen a lot worse artwork, but there was times were the art just felt a bit awkward. I also found that the lines were inked a bit too heavily, as it stood out a bit too much, making the whole thing look unnatural, as well as unrealistic, and overall it disappointed me. As I said the last time someone apart from Janin did the art (issue 0), I've probably just became too accustomed to Janin's marvellous art, so whenever I see something not to that standard it disappoints, but in saying that Lee Garbett's art suited the style of story that issue 0 was, whereas this issue feels like it could have been better. The layout however was good, and I liked that it felt very dramatic, but at the same time it didn't outweigh the rest. The details were also not too bad, and although they also could have been better, I have seen much worse.
Following the shocking conclusion to last issue I was happy that Lemire took some time to develop this, as it would have been a bit unrealistic if the answer was presented straight away. I also liked that this kept me curious, and interested about what may have happened to Zatanna, and Tim. The issue would continue to do this, as we didn't actually find out what happened to them, but the sequence involving Constantine and Peril didn't half speculate. The dialogue in this sequence was also very interesting, and I liked how it was very technical without being confusing. The dialogue I liked the most was from Constantine as we get to see concern from him, something you don't see a lot of, and although he still doesn't show the whole of his feelings, you can see that he has them.
The story however would have been very dull if this is what the issue was filled with, so that's were the House of Mystery comes in. The addition of the House of Mystery added much more interest to this issue, but at the same time it also made it fun. Although I know that the development is key, and without the sequence with Constantine and Peril trying to find Zatanna and Tim that the development would be slowed to a halt, but at the same time a comic needs excitement, and this is what we get. The House of Mystery was the thing that interested me the most way back in issue 10, and I've enjoyed seeing it since, but we've still not had any development to the mystery of the house that was said to move around, but we did now. The rooms were fantastic, with each one feeling like something out of a novel, or B list horror movie, and I really enjoyed it. I also liked that this gave Lemire a chance to get creative, as he was able to have small unique sequences that were exciting, but due to the nature of the house it wasn't upsetting when they ended, and this was overall a great thing. There was one room in particular that interested me, but I won't mention it as it contains spoilers, all I will say to those who've read it, is that it's the room that shocks Orchid.
The characteristics of Frankenstein, Amethyst, and even Orchid was shown more in this issue, and although this wouldn't necessarily be brilliant for someone that's followed the characters (Frankenstein in Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Amethyst in Sword of Sorcery, and Orchid from pre-New 52) for someone like me it was interesting. Although they made brilliant additions in Justice League Dark Annual #1, we didn't actually get to see much of Frankenstein, or Amethyst's characteristics, and Orchid has always been a mystery, so seeing them put in a situation like this was interesting. It was however Frankenstein and Amethyst that interested me most, as Amethyst seems a very timid character, and Frankenstein is nothing but the gentleman, and these aren't what I'd have expected from two characters that mainly attack using swords. I did however also like that Frankenstein is actually a much more deeper character than you would think, and actually seems more emotional, and free thinking than most other characters, and very different from the one I read in the Mary Shelley novel. Orchid did however remain a mystery, but it was interesting to see how she coped in a new environment, and it was also interesting to see her shocked.
Although not as good as the other issues in this series, this was still a very good issue, and Lemire did a brilliant job of developing the shocking conclusion to the War for the Books of Magic, as well as giving us something fun, and unique. I'd still recommend this issue, as it shows how good a series this is when this is the worst issue I've read.