See all reviews of House of Penance (3)

Sarah Winchester’s 24/7 construction crew is staffed by some shady characters, but the arrival of one Warren Peck has added an even more sinister element to her ever-expanding abode. This issue, we get to see Peck’s first few days on the job (along with a lot more Winchester Weirdness).

Is it good?

House of Penance #2 (Dark Horse Comics)

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Observations

  • Gotta admit, I hadn’t considered using explosives for getting rid of malevolent spirits. Well played, Ms. Winchester.
  • Murcer may think he’s just humoring Winchester, but her dog (and Peck) sure seem to realize that something supernatural is going on (or they’re all on the same crazy wavelength).
  • Peck may be a jerk, but I don’t blame him for not talking to his creepy/homicidal co-workers.
  • Peck’s also about to give Winchester a run for the title of Looniest Winchester House Resident.
  • Uh…
  • Wait…what?

Is It Good?

There’s a fine line between a story being weird due to a twisted narrative, or being weird simply because it’s trying too hard. House of Penance is currently dancing on both sides of the room.

On one hand, the atmosphere that’s been established through the last two issues is superb. Tomasi gives Sarah Winchester a voice that is simultaneously sympathetic and chilling. Her heartbreak is palpable. Her fear, whether it’s justified or not, is genuine. Add in Bertram’s surreal/beautiful artwork, and this book has all the pieces in place for a truly unsettling (and good) tale.

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But then we get to the last few pages of the current issue, where things go in a direction where many readers (or maybe just me) start to wonder if they missed something truly brilliant that everyone else will easily recognize for its staggering genius…or maybe the story really just flew off the rails.

I guess you’re going to have to count me in the simpleton camp for now. I’m totally fine with weird—a big fan of it, actually. But ‘weird’ still has to have a point and direction that makes a little more sense than what we’ve got so far. I get that Peck and Winchester are experiencing their own personal Hells. But even if they’re both crazy and/or haunted by the same supernatural presence, their respective points of view should have a bit more consistency for the connection between them to work.

That being said, House of Penance’s atmosphere, art, and story potential are still plenty good enough to make it worth sticking around for the next issue. Perhaps this will be one of those series that reads better as a trade…or when additional rooms are added.

House of Penance #2 Review
More beautiful/surreal artwork by Ian Bertram (even some of the characters still look like they have a thyroid condition) Peter Tomasi gives Sarah Winchester a fragmented voice that is also genuinely sympathetic.
The last few pages of the issue feel like we're entering 'weird for the sake of being weird' territory.
6.5Good
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