It’s Halloween and like so many other people this late October I am choosing to celebrate this holiday with a cup of coffee and a nice fat comic book. So what happens when a comic about evildoers isn’t dark; if it’s well, comical? Is it Good?
Astounding Villain House (Dark Horse Comics)
The Villain House is a prison where all of the baddies go if they haven’t done anything too heinous but still don’t deserve to be out on the streets. This anthology is a collection of vignettes about some of these villains or people in some way connected to them. Instead of reviewing this as an overall anthology, I am going to talk about each individual short story.
The Squid and the Pachyderm
We open up with the story of two Villain House inmates; neither of them are particularly formidable or hostile but they are still interesting personalities. They used to be partners in crime but have long since been put in the slammer. It appears that the Squid has yet another plan to break out, but the Pachyderm is less hopeful. Upon receiving a foreboding letter informing him that his mom had been diagnosed with cancer, the Pachyderm goes to talk to the warden about a premature release. The warden refuses, telling him that he has to learn a lesson and this is the only way. So, with much reluctance, the Pachyderm agrees to the Squids plan and they attempt to break out.
Things don’t work out in the end—I won’t spoil it for anyone, but the last pages of this vignette are mighty disheartening. This is a story of disappointments and missing the big and important things in life because of previous mistakes. I love how this comic left me with such a melancholy feeling. Although I was engaged the whole time and the story felt exciting and fresh the conclusion still felt depressing and hopeless. This comic would be strong even if it was only this short story, that’s how much I liked it.
This story takes place in a restaurant and revolves around two people on their first date. It doesn’t seem like a very likely premise for a Villain anthology, but it actually gives a great perspective on the villains and how they react to non-villains. While the tale comes across as kind of tame and calm it is actually very intricate in its smaller details. As the two people on the date move venues and start drinking the conversation turns to exes, particularly those of the women. She has actually dated her fair share of villains and has much to say about all of them. She tells her date all about her sex life and how it was drastically different with all the different villains. This is a very different and fresh way of telling about villains and is a lot of fun to read.
This story is more directly connected to the Villains House and expands the Villain House universe, which isn’t much at this point. In this story we meet such baddies as the Buzzard, Fat Joe, Rapunzel and Demonoid. All of these characters are great personalities and like the other two stories this one is lively and fun. This one has the least story and is my least favorite but is still a blast to read.
Blind Mole-Rat King
This is probably my favorite of all four stories, and it’s totally different from all the rest. A story about when heroes have good intentions but aren’t always in the right and about doing good in general. It delivered its theme well and was a terrific read. I also appreciate the insanity and out-of-this-world-ness about it while staying realistic in its tones. Bravo.
Overall, this is one anthology you can’t miss this Halloween season. An interesting and different take on villains that proves a piece about bad people doesn’t have to be dark and gritty. This is a meaningful tale of humanity and the flaws and goodness embedded in all of us.
- Four consistently great stories
- Points out some great and meaningful themes
- Great Halloween read
- It wasn’t longer
The issue is simple yet sophisticated in its art. Some may dislike the cartoony style, but it really compliments the writing perfectly.
Is It Good?
Oh yeah. One of the freshest, best comics I’ve read in many a moon.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!