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Comic Book / House of Mystery

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Cress: Come on, Poet. Dazzle us with one of your eloquent theories about why we're stuck here and why little Rina-bean gets to leave this sinkhole instead of me. Men always have theories about everything.
Poet: Indeed I do have a new theory, Cress. It involves magnets, and monkeys wearing top hats and a malevolent cheese grater bent on world domination.
— Issue 1, "The First Drink's On The House."

Bethany "Fig" Keele is running away from her burning house and the two figures who are chasing her. In her hands are the plans for the house of her dreams — not her dream house, but the house of her literal dreams, the titular House of Mystery. Once she gets there, she not only finds that it's being used as a sort of interdimensional pub house, but that she can't leave as well.

There are other occupants of the House that can't leave, either: Harry, the bartender, Cressida, the melodramatic waitress, Ann Preston, the pirate queen bouncer, and Poet, a Purple Prose spouting poet and short-order cook. A previous occupant, Rina, just left via a mysterious coachman. The patrons of the House of Mystery can come and go as they please (to all their various worlds, magical or otherwise), but they can't even get back out the front gate.

An interesting comic from Vertigo by Lilah Sturges (Jack of Fables) and Bill Willingham (Fables), based on the original 1951-1983 series, that combines an overall storyarc with an anthology, since all the patrons of the House of Mystery have to pay with stories. Strongly connected to The Sandman (1989). The 2008 series lasted for 42 issues (July, 2008-December, 2011) and two Annuals.

One of the stories in the original series, I, Vampire, later became its own comic for New 52.

House of Mystery provides examples of:

  • Anthology Comic: With a twist!
  • Big Bad: The Conception almost certainly, and possibly Cain as well
  • Cain and Abel:
    • The versions from The Sandman (1989). They make a short appearance in the beginning, where it turns out that Cain's home, the House of Mystery, has mysteriously vanished.
    • They also appear again and again, as Cain tries to find his house.
    • Later on, Cain reclaims the house as co-owner with Fig, reluctantly allowing it to remain an inn.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Thinking Man, Cain.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: "You're being prepared for a journey. A journey that will take you through the space between where you'll take on a race of magical time-traveling aliens who want to remake the universe as an infinite work of art. Or, you know, something like that. The ham's not always specific."
  • The Collector of the Strange: Cain and Abel. Consider how many secret and mysterious items can be found inside their respective houses.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Almost half the cast.
  • Crusty Caretaker: Not as "crusty" as he was back in the '70s, but Cain still counts. Abel is more "chubby" than crusty, but he's also a creepy caretaker too.
  • Devilish Hair Horns: Cain's standard look. Although, in this series it's more "antenna hairdo" than in all his other incarnations.
  • Dogged Nice Guy:
    • Genevieve started out like this (admittedly as somewhat of a Deadpan Snarker as well) when she first pursued various Cresses on various worlds, until she finally got a few, then proceeded to start dating as many as she possibly could, only to get caught. Yet another reason why the Cress of this story may be so grumpy.
    • Ann also has one, who turns out to be a dragon.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: See below, re: "The Hollows." Also, Miranda and the Bete Noir.
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: Rina, who leads the Thinking Man's Army and Administrator Ceorel right to the House in exchange for the Conception to improve her homeworld. Is later Driven to Suicide when she decides that people like her don't deserve to live in the better world, only for Administrator Ceorel to reveal to the Thinking Man he made none of the changes she asked for.
  • Gargle Blaster: "Okay, here's your 'Something With A Lot of Alcohol In It.' That's the actual name of the drink, and I should add that if you drink more than two, you'll probably die."
  • Genius Loci: The House itself, with Harry as the place given human form; more specifically, he's a creation of the house, so that it would have a caretaker.
  • Gypsy Curse: Placed on the four kids who are condemned to go trick-or-treating forever.
  • The Hidden Hour: In the story "The Thirteenth Hour," the world is overrun every day at noon by hideous monsters. They devour the entire human race and then when one o'clock arrives, the clock resets to noon and the world goes back to normal. Only one young man is aware of this phenomenon, and he tries to convince his fiancée to take his place...
  • Horror Host: Cain and Abel are the originals, while almost every other major and minor character gets to present or tell a story at some point in the narrative, although not all the tales told would fall under horror per se.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: Apparently one of several, all created by a race of people who can travel between worlds at will. Both Fig and her father are members of this race.
  • Jerkass:
    • Cress, although since everyone she's ever loved has died or turned into a monster, she may be somewhat justified.
    • Also Fig's dad, who's a Deadpan Snarker pathological liar who is described by his daughter as a "giant, gaping, manipulative douchebag."
  • Magic Versus Science: Daphne's people are at war with the "Thinking-Man's Army," who appear to be robots.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Enrico Canepazzo is the world's greatest living process server.
  • Mushroom Samba: How Byzantium Mack became a sorcerer.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
    • "Fucking vampire cats!"
    • Also Jordan's idea for a movie, which featured a gorilla ninja (or ninjorilla) who is also a pirate captain and an astronaut fighting dinosaur wizards in space as well as zombies, robots, his Soviet twin brother, and Hitler. And it's only the first movie in a trilogy...
    • Jordan mentions ninja pirate zombie robots a lot.
  • Pirate Girl: Ann Preston
  • Russian Reversal: "In Hell...the bacon eats you!" Said by Ann.
  • Spin-Off: Though the House of Mystery title predates it, the Vertigo imprint reboot borrows (the Vertigo version of) Cain from The Sandman (1989).
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The captions on the story "The Thirteenth Hour," which constantly insist that there is no truth to the claim that various landmarks in San Francisco have any occult meaning at all (given that this is accompanied with images of monsters destroying the world, this is somewhat doubtful).
  • Unreliable Voiceover: Played for Horror in the first issue. The narration is a rather uneventful story about a girl who moves back to her hometown after her parents died, becomes a wife and mother, but doesn't love her children. None of this is actually untrue, but the art fills in minor gaps like the fact that the other residents of the city are all Big Creepy-Crawlies, and her children were loads of maggots that left a huge hole in her back that she still has.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Occurs in the second-to-last issue.