The existential horror of The Nice House on the Lake continues this week with issue #8. The inhabitants of a dream vacation turned nightmare have no idea the world outside their area is burning and everyone they know is dead. Walter is some kind of demon or nightmare (or maybe he’s even an alien?), but he’s trapped his closest friends to “save them.” The crux of this series is how once you know you’re trapped, how can you think of anything but escaping, checking in on those you love, or at the very least understanding who has captured you? The exploration of their imprisonment continues as the plot thickens this week.
Álvaro Martínez Bueno continues to draw the reader in, soothe, and when necessary, scare the crap out of readers. He’s backed up by Jordie Bellaire on colors who really throws the color around, creating a sometimes chaotic and always unnerving sense of unease. Much of this issue is about the characters going about their day and yet Bueno seems to find angles on the action to create a tension as if we’re voyeurs peering in, using the darkness and vegetation surrounding the characters at a table outside, the top-down view of the characters splitting up at the pool, or the ghostly use of windows and mirrors to create an effect. Breaking up the issue are also chapter breaks of locations being designed which give the reader a sense of the ingenuity in their creating personalized surroundings, but also their commitment to this place.
That commitment is on full display here as Walter has encouraged them to start making whatever they desire. A spa? Sure, do it! A treehouse observatory? Yep! Problem is, to what end are they making these things? It’s a hard question James Tynion IV is asking these characters, as most of them think Walter is trapped inside with them. Only one person knows the truth and that plays into the big cliffhanger.
At its core, this issue is about Walter’s decision to bring these people here in the first place. The issue opens with a character in the future storyline reflecting on her friendship with him. She gives us good insight she had about him when he was just her friend in the real world. Later in the issue, we get even more insight into Walter’s psyche. Given we don’t even know what he is, let alone why he’s truly helping these characters, it’s fascinating to see he’s about as emotionally mature as a child.
It’s fascinating to see how Tynion and Bueno continue to unveil new mysteries and new insights to lay on the fear and terror since it’s a premise that originally didn’t seem too complex. How long can these characters mill about miserable with their imprisonment not knowing if the world is truly dead and gone or if something is there? It’s in exploring characters’ feelings and emotions that we’re drawn into their experience and thus the narrative becomes even scarier. Something present in this issue that bugs me ever so slightly, however, is the requirement of a bit more patience than with other serial stories.
Prepare to be enticed with new information, dread, unease, and terror. The Nice House on the Lake #8 continues to be an exploration of character inside a mystery box you can’t turn away from. That mystery box is both literal and figurative as you attempt to solve its mysteries.
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