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House Of Penance #3

    Ian Jane

  • House Of Penance #3

    House Of Penance #3
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: June 8th, 2016.
    Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
    Illustrated by: Ian Bertram
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    Not caught up? Get caught up. You won't regret it. Peck, upset with the way the work crew seems to be conspiring against his employer, Sarah Winchester, has the foreman, Murcer, relocate him to the bowels of the increasingly massive home.

    When this issue picks up, Murcer carries Peck's wounded body out of the furnace room. It looks like he's been stabbed and tried to cauterize the wounds himself. Sarah orders Murcer to bring Peck to one of the finished bedrooms to rest, and to call a physician… and then her sister Mary Pardee arrives, completely unannounced.

    Peck has dreams, or maybe visions, of his past. His past involving a rifle, killing a man, strange trees, explosions and worms. He tells the bodies that start to swarm him that they have only themselves to blame. A child he killed asks him why they had to die. He wants to know if she's going to Heaven, he says her head hurts all the time because there's a hole in it. Peck doesn't want to look any of them in the eye, and as he sees Sarah come towards him in the dream he wakes up - to find her sitting at the foot of his bed, genuinely concerned for him.

    She tells him he's been out for eight straight days, they didn't think he'd make it. Now that he's conscious she wants him to replace an Italian woodworker who recently passed away, but when he looks at his hands, all he sees are worms, more worms. She insists, however, and leads him to a room she wants setup for her guest, the ones no one can see that she says are already here. He looks around, reads the odd Shakespearean passages engraved into the plaques on the walls, but still, the worms.

    Outside, Mary tells Sarah that the Winchester family is not happy that she had her husband and son moved three thousand miles from the family plot in Connecticut to be buried on the lands surrounding the house. Mary is concerned that Sarah is going insane, or possibly already there. Later that night as the two sisters, in separate rooms, prepare for bed Sarah sees a horrible vision and starts smashing the mirrors, the one in Mary's room included. Before Sarah can do anymore damage to the house, its inhabitants or herself Peck grabs her. She didn't want them to come through the mirrors, we're told.

    That night, Peck goes out to the stable to visit his horse. Sarah finds him there and, taking advantage of their solitude, Peck asks her just what it is exactly that she's doing with the constant construction. And so she explains to him just why she considers the Winchester House to be a house of penance.

    As the relationship between Sarah and Peck seems to become closer to something more than just a worker/employee familiarity, we get some interesting background details on each character. This helps to flesh out the story, to make it more than just a tale of one woman's hope to find retribution and solace. It gives Tomasi's twisted tale some depth, some character and some welcome personality. There were hints in the first two issues that things might go the way that they go here - birds of a feather do flock together in a sense - but then, damaged goods are damaged goods and there's absolutely no guarantee that this will lead to romance or, if it does, that said romance will be anything close to healthy for either side. Upcoming issues will no doubt delve further into what is alluded to here, but for now, this third chapter satisfies by answering some questions and asking a few more. At the same time it hits the right balance between drama, mystery and horror to satisfy open-minded fans of any of those three genres. Ian Bertram's artwork compliments the writing beautifully. The line work is detailed and sometimes abstract - Sarah's eyes are impossibly huge in her head, her tightly pulled back hair accentuating that even more in certain panels - but it suits the way that the character acts and speaks. Peck is given a bit more of a realistic look, but there's enough crossover in the way that they're both illustrated that we never have a problem accepting that they exist in the same house, let alone the same world. The horrific moments are startling, the quieter moments pensive in their execution - this is coming together beautifully. It's a very unique and bizarre work, but you won't soon forget it and each issue leaves the reader wanting more.

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