House of Penance #1 (Dark Horse)

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CREDIT: Dark Horse

Rating: 4.5/5 – A Haunting Take on the Haunted Winchester House.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

In the late 1800s Sarah Winchester was the heiress to the Winchester Estate (Winchester firearms) and used her immense fortune to build a sprawling and complex house in California. As the legend goes, Sarah visited a psychic who told her that she was being cursed by all the lives that were taken by the firearms manufactured by the Winchester company. In order to house those spirits she would have to construct a house big enough, and with as many rooms as possible to provide them sanctuary. So for 38 years construction on the Winchester house never stopped and it’s now a tourist attraction in San Jose, California. Although I’ve never had the chance to see the house, I’m glad to be reading House of Penance written by Peter Tomasi with artist Ian Bertram.  This comic explores the demons that Sarah Winchester is battling and a mysterious traveler who happens to visit the home.

Bertram’s art is haunting. He uses lots of small lines to form all the details and Sarah Winchester’s gaunt face and large oval eyes give her a frightening yet sad look. Bertram uses plenty of wide panels to tell the story. Those wide panels help to provide scope to the mansion, as well as plenty of closeups on the character’s eyes that hint at something dark going on within their minds. Dave Stewart provides the beautiful colors that will range from brights to darks to pitch blacks throughout. House of Penance is a beautiful looking book despite the sad and scary story told by Tomasi.

Peter Tomasi takes the legend of Sarah Winchester to a more personal place. We see Sarah within this huge home struggling with the “curse” of housing spirits, as well as her intense loneliness as she longs for her deceased husband and daughter. We’re also introduced to a new character whose place in this story isn’t quite clear yet, but I get the feeling that it may not end well due to his actions prior to ending up at the house. I so enjoyed this fictional take on this actual historic story and feel compelled by Tomasi and Bertram’s story to do a little more research on the famous Winchester House, and definitely come back for the remainder of this series.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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