Diablo House #1 introduces readers to a new horror series and its premise. Created by a mix of new and veteran talent, the book reads like a love letter to its genre. Does that reverence translate into high quality work?
Diablo House #1 (IDW Publishing)
The issue is written by IDW Publishing CEO/publisher/co-founder Ted Adams, with art by newcomer Santiperez and colors by Jay Fotos. It is currently available for a limited time through IDW’s Humble Comics Bundle: Creators Showcase, which features dozens of comics for a low price and extends through 3/15/17.
So, is it worth it? Yes. Without a doubt. This issue’s narrative draws upon many familiar conventions of classic horror comics without feeling dated or cliché, and the art team does a great job of visualizing them on the page. In the tradition of Tales from the Crypt and Elvira, the story opens with a host narrator. In this case, the reader is addressed by Riley, the shirtless surfer host of the Diablo House. The second page hints at monstrous happenings, with Riley’s narration displayed overtop of a giant insects towering over California.
In what could risk becoming a bait and switch, Riley informs us that the issue’s story is not one of giant monsters, but rather, metaphorical ones. This narrative claim is ultimately successful, thanks to Adams’ depiction of a fast food restaurant worker-turned-executive and his wife’s descent into emotional misery as greed and lust for money corrupt their lives and decisions. Adams’ dialogue depicting the executive’s greed is particularly topical and effective given the United States’ current political climate and its society’s concerns with class struggle.
Adams is not alone in making this issue effective. New artistic talent Santiperez comes out of the gate running, delivering page after page of intensely detailed line work. His architectural design on the Diablo House itself is both classically foreboding and unique enough to still feel fresh. Santiperez also conveys the story’s more everyday events with skill, imbuing the characters’ economic concerns with emotional resonance. Jay Fotos’ colors then take an already strong foundation and build something stellar upon it. The changes in brightness and color palette follow the narrative naturally and sell the idea that the issue’s horrors are grounded in the realistic, the aspects of the story one can imagine occurring in real life. The giant bugs are, in fact, metaphorical—but a threat nonetheless.
The issue’s main shortcomings are all things that could be addressed in future installments. The nature of the Diablo House is hinted at, but more concrete explanation could be beneficial. The host character Riley is similarly lacking in background and detail thus far. His visual design in unique, but his personality is not yet as well-defined as that of many classic horror hosts. Hopefully future issues of the series will continue to build upon this debut’s strong foundation and flesh out what elements are currently underdeveloped.
Diablo House #1 is a strong start for the title. The host character and the concept behind the series show great promise, with the potential for a large variety of horror tales yet to come. The writing, line art, and colors all work in tandem with one another to fully realize ideas into well-executed realities. If you’re a horror fan, or even just a fan of character-driven dramas, this book is well worth your time.
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