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House Of Penance #6

    Ian Jane

  • House Of Penance #6

    House Of Penance #6
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: August 17th, 2016.
    Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
    Illustrated by: Ian Bertram
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    This sixth issue opens with a splash page - blood red steams erupt from the earth as Sarah stands in front of them, her arms raised to the heavens, proclaiming that the Day Of Judgment has arrived. The men scatter, save for Peck. As the house appears to be coming down all around them she heads in, and he after her - she wants the meet the reckoning as a family unit.

    But those tubes, those worms, those veins…. whatever they are… they're tearing the place down so quickly and with such violent force that it doesn't look like she's going to get the reunion she's longed for. She calls out to that which haunts her, she's committed her body and her soul to their cause, and as she yells this, the ground opens up and swallows her. Peck and Mercer, with some help from her dog, search where they can but the house, as crazy as it was before this, is quite literally a jigsaw puzzle now that it has crumbled. As they make their way outside, what's left of the house tumbles.

    But Mercer tells Peck that 'she was there when we needed her' and so off he runs into the ruins to find Sarah Winchester, her faithful hound leading the way. And with that dog's help, Peck finds her. They pull her out and marvel at the stillness, the quiet, and then learn that San Francisco was hit hardest by the earthquake but that it was felt from Los Angeles to Oregon. She's taking this as a sign from God….

    There's more to the ending than that, of course, but we're not going to ruin the finale of one of the most startlingly original works of comic book art to hit the stands in years. Tomasi's story is both horrifying and, somehow, beautiful and poetic. With this work he's crafted some fascinating characters, shown to us their similarities despite their differing social classes, and also made clear to the reader some of their stark differences. All Sarah Winchester, for her many flaws, ever wanted was peace, to be reunited with the family she lost yet could not let go of. She sees in Peck a kindred spirit of sorts, they're both alone and in each other do find some solace - but not enough to take Sarah off course, even for a second. Peck knows this, and Peck accepts this. It makes the ending all the more poignant and all the more fitting.

    Ian Bertram's artwork has been absolutely perfect from the first page of the first issue right through to this final chapter. His illustrative style, at least as employed in the six issues that make up House Of Penance, is over exaggerated at times but in the context of the surreal, horrific story being told it's hard to imagine a better fit. There's also loads of detail here, you'll spot it in each and every panel in the run. From the lines on Sarah's face to the knowing glances that Peck gives her to the architecture of the ever imposing house itself, this was clearly not a rush job. Dave Stewart's coloring is the icing on the cake, his use of heavy earth tones contrasts beautifully with the harsh blood reds used throughout the book.

    This is one of those rare mini-series that, once you get to the end, you want to re-read all over again from the start because you know you'll appreciate it even more the second time around. High praise? Maybe. But House Of Penance deserves it. Let's hope Tomasi and Bertram team up again sooner rather than later.

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