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House Of Penance #2

    Ian Jane

  • House Of Penance #2

    House Of Penance #2
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: May 11th, 2015.
    Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
    Illustrated by: Ian Bertram
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    When we last left the bizarre Winchester House and its chief storied inhabitant Sarah Winchester's haunted abode was paid a visit by a man named Warren Peck who had shown up looking for work. The foreman, Murcer, who is responsible for ensuring that the construction never stops, brought him on board unaware that not all that long ago Peck has shot dead a few Indians using a rifle manufactured by the company his mistress's late husband had founded.

    This second issue catches up with Sarah as she's surveying the workers harvesting apples on her property. She finds some privacy and mutters to herself, hoping that the spirits that plague her will give her a rest. She lays own a barrel of dynamite near a rock and blows it up.

    When the workers, some of them at least, break for a meal Peck is told by a co-worker named Arthur Cooke that he's surrounded by killers. Every man here has killed for his own reasons, some of them in the war, some of them for personal gain, some for self-defense. Cook includes himself in this batch. Peck tells him he's just passing through. On the other side of the house, Sarah enlists Murcer's aid in relocating the aviary to the other side of the house. She wants a larger skylight put in for the birds, but Murcer knows this is just another job to ensure that the construction doesn't stop. When Zip, her dog, begins to bark Sarah sees hordes of worms emerge from the floorboards. She orders Murcer to grab a hammer and smash them, while she does the same - Murcer can't see them, but he does what he's told…. “For Annie and William.”

    The crew talks amongst themselves, speculating as to why she wears a cloth around her wrist with numbers on it. Possibly the combination to a safe - and what if she was to have a fall? Peck doesn't like what he's hearing and he leaves the crew but then gets lost in the insanity of the house himself. He finds Murcer, wants to be relocated and is told that since Seaver quit the furnace, he can work down there. He doesn't mind the heat and finds himself having to melt down guns and use the metal to forge hammers and construction materials in the very bowels of the house.

    And then he wants to burn away the dirt. Burn away the blood. And then he hears Sarah singing to her child, the daughter, Annie, who died some time ago, and to her husband, William, also deceased. When, later that night, she determines that the house is too cold, she demands to have a word with Peck…

    This second issue builds beautifully off of what was laid down as a foundation in the first installment of this new series from Dark Horse Comics. Peter J. Tomasi's script features interesting character development, primarily in regards to Sarah Winchester and to Peck. He was only a supporting character in the first issue but you knew from his introduction he'd take on a more important role as this story progresses and here Tomasi seems to be fleshing that out - how it happens? You won't see it coming. He may very well be just as damaged as the woman who now employs him and by the time you get to the last page, well, we don't want to spoil it. Let it suffice to say that this second issue isn't just creepy, it's downright horrifying. Particularly if you don't like worms. Ian Bertram's artwork, which channels classic European comic book artists like Moebius, suits the weirdly compelling story line perfectly. It's nicely detailed and very stylish, never photo-realistic (nor should it be) but very much interpretive. It works wonderfully. The use of color, lots of yellows and reds that bring the house and the horrors within to vibrant life, complements Bertram's style really well. This is one of the weirdest new series to come out thus far in 2016, but it's fascinating, griping and wildly creative stuff.

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