The Nice House on the Lake Vol. 2
James Tynion IV, writer; Álvaro Martínez Bueno, artist; Jordie Bellaire, colorist
DC Black Label, 2023
The story concludes here, or at least one aspect of it: the final panel says “end of CYCLE ONE.” Given that the first volume ended with alien mastermind/friend Walter wiping everyone’s memories, this is effectively a series restart (in a very literal sense). But Walter has decided to take Norah out of the picture: she has been exiled from the rest of the group, and no one but Walter remembers that she was ever there. He is trying to understand what he needs to do to help the group adjust to life in the house, and he asks Norah to help. So, he suggests the planning of an additional studio space just off the main building. Then of course he wills it into being, also including a secret space where Norah can live and observe the group.
The memory reset temporarily solved two major difficulties the group was having: adjusting to the fact that most (if not all) of the outside world has been destroyed, with all of the loss and inability to return to their former lives that entails; and the fundamental question of how much Walter can be trusted. He claims to be a friend with their best interests at heart, but he’s also a member of the alien invasion force. Finally, he shows Norah the controls for the place, but she has also shared her knowledge with Ryan–and she messes with the controls enough to allow Naya to die, as well as restoring everyone’s memories to their arrival at the house.
There are several possible options, but the group elects to kill Walter and take over the management of the cell together. The hope is that they will establish a stable human ecosystem which can outperform the other ecosystems. Because there are others: Walter’s people want to have a sample set of humanity to study after their world is fully gone. The arc closes with the revelation that Walter is in fact still alive, and the housemates will need to fight to keep the life they had built at the house. The world of the series is going to be smaller than planet Earth going forward (in fact it is unclear what state the outside world is in): but larger than a single nice house on a lake.
Dark Ride Volume 1: Hell Ticket
Joshua Williamson, writer; Andrei Bressan, artist; Adriano Lucas, colorist
Image Comics, 2023
The story begins in black and white. Arthur has just lost his job, and kills his wife in a rage. When he buries her in the desert outside of Las Vegas some unknown supernatural entity speaks to him from her open grave and offers him a deal that will be “the greatest ride of your life.” Here the visuals shift to vibrant color, a kind of Wizard of Oz in reverse.
The first color image is a two-page splash of Devil Land, which has been the world’s premiere horror-themed amusement park, and is home to the scariest ride ever created: The Devil’s Due. New employee Owen Sessions has reported for his first day at work, thrilled to be an employee at his favorite place. Unfortunately, the poor kid doesn’t last a day, killed under mysterious (and apparently supernatural) circumstances on The Devil’s Due ride. Everyone at the park just thinks he disappeared, but his replacement Summer seems curious.
Family owned and operated by the reclusive creator, Arthur Dante (and his two children Samhain and Halloween) Devil Land is seeing some financial stress with low park attendance. Samhain wants Devil Land to expand its brand beyond the park gates, but gets no support from his father or sister. As this first arc concludes we learn more about the role his family, including his sister, has played in a myriad of unsolved deaths and disappearances at the park over the last 50 years. Owen’s body is found, and the YouTube blogger investigating the park meets his own symbolic end. Quite a start for the series! The whole creative team is firing on all cylinders, and it will be fascinating to see where the story goes next.