THE NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE #1/ Script by JAMES TYNION IV/ Art and Cover by ALVARO MARTINEZ BUENO/ Colors by JORDIE BELLAIRE/ Letters by ANDWORLD DESIGN/ Published by DC BLACK LABEL
Horror fiction reflects the times in which it is written, while addressing the same concerns humanity has faced since the beginning of time. Frankenstein was built on the fear that science might go too far and profane the sacred. Godzilla was built around the fear of atomic war. Zombie movies are built around the dangers of mindless conformity. This has left many wondering what new horror stories will be born of 2020, when humanity was forced to face the same old problems caused by plague and ignorance.
The Nice House On The Lake is the first great work of fiction based around this time and the fears of our era, though it has little direct basis on the events of the last year. It is, however, about the end of the world and watching it from a distance. Not a safe distance, mind you, as the first page suggests that while our protagonists are separated from the apocalypse, they are far from safe. Beyond that, I can say nothing more without spoiling the story, so take the fact that I call this a “great work of fiction” as gospel truth and read no further if you wish to avoid SPOILERS.
This first chapter is centered around a gathering of friends, lovers and acquittances at the titular nice house on the lake. They were all invited there by Walter, a non-descript fellow who listened more than he spoke, but was notable for his philosophical nature and asking deep questions during a night of drinking, such as how everyone thought the world would end. It quickly becomes apparent that something bad is happening in the outside world and that Walter had advanced knowledge of what was coming.
James Tynion IV’s script draws upon the reality of 2020, as we, through his characters, get to watch the rapid collapse of society through Tweets and Twitch streams, as people fall to a mysterious plague. Naturally there are also people insisting the whole thing is a hoax and a government conspiracy. This hits rather close to home given our dependence on technology and social media over the past year, safe in our own worlds as we hid in our homes, waiting for the disaster to get worse and the world to end.
The artwork by Alvaro Martinez Bueno is simply breathtaking, vividly detailed and further enhanced by the always excellent colors of Jordie Bellaire. The text by AndWorld Design is also noteworthy, with the whole creating seamless parodies of Twitter screens and e-mails and each character also being given their own unique symbiology to go with titles like The Artist and The Writer.
I say again without hyperbole that The Nice House On The Lake is the first great work of horror fiction based around the collective fear of the early 21st century. Politically brilliant, philosophically deep and utterly gorgeous, this is one to read even if you aren’t typically a fan of psychological thrillers or supernatural horror.