Matthew Sturges‘s run on House of Mystery has come to a sad end after 42 issues, although perhaps this was not an entire suprise. I have to say that at times the series has felt slightly loose but seems to have continued a running thread through this and Mike Carey and Peter Gross’s The Unwritten. (The Unwritten appears to be heading to some sort of conclusion as well.) I’ve largely enjoyed the ride with its use of the Club story, the story within the story, to expand its central theme.
In the final issue, sets of explorers come together in a jungle of confusion with each explorer identifying their own conclusion. The final one, and perhaps the most convincing, comes from the character who resembles Terry Pratchett. Perhaps this is intentional, I don’t know, but it is very apt since he is the one person who actually explores story. This section comes to me as a wry look at critical approaches to the comic, something that I am keenly aware of in this short post.
When professor Cornelius (a throw away reference to Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius?) goes travelling, his companion (Flora Bella) is turned into a vampire (a hint of Twilight?) but eventually comes to the Dreaming, where he meets Abel in the House of Secrets. (Another in point being that Steven Seagle who writes one of the short stories in the episode had a run for the House of Secrets during the 90s which I read whilst at university.) Abel replies that “No one s-stole the House of Mystery. The truth is .. it stole itself. It got tired of hearing my brother tell he same of scary stories. It wanted new stories and it got them is s-spades” (House of Mystery, #42, Dec 2011).
That gets the issue back to the crux of the series, the finding and telling of new stories. each issue has focussed around the construction of differing stores in pulp fashion. Some brought the Clockwork Storybook writers back under one roof but others brought indifferent writers. Perhaps it is slightly hit and miss but there was something for everyone. It was fun and had a serious exploration of stories in between the episodes.
Cain’s miraculous appearance at the end of the issue, when he points out of the frame, and says “and its yours” gets to another part of the matter. Stories need the reader to being them to life and to enter their world using their imagination. This is definitely a series to return to when The Unwritten comes to an end. Like The Unwritten, it is comes back to how stories come back and are re-interpreted as in the mighty Greek Street. Yet like them all, they are highly readable.