First Published: February 2006
Contents: The House of Mystery #174 (May-June 1968) to #194 (September 1971)
Key Creator Credits: Joe Orlando, Sergio Aragonés, Neal Adams, Nick Cardy, Wally Wood, Bernie Wrightson, Alex Toth, Robert Kanigher, and others
Key First Appearances: Cain
Story Continues In: Showcase Presents The House of Mystery Vol. 2
Overview: Do you dare enter the House of Mystery? Take a journey into the supernatural, with stories of ghosts, demons, witches, and black magic.
For issue #174, the book went back to its true horror format (see Footnotes below). Industry veteran Joe Orlando was brought in from EC Comics to take over the editorial reigns of the book. The stories in this issue were all reprints, but new material was the focus in the following issues. The content took a darker tone, as Orlando introduced the EC-story style which was pushing the boundaries of the Comics Code Authority.
Beginning with issue #175, the comic is hosted by Cain, the caretaker of the house who introduces a lot of the stories. (Cain’s brother Abel was the host for The House of Secrets.) The stories range from 4-12 pages, so each issue has 4-5 features each month. The joke gets lost in a 500+-page trade collection, but each issue featured a comedy page by Sergio Aragonés on the dreaded Page 13.
There is no continuity between the stories, so these can be read in any order.
Why should these stories be Showcased?: This is an interesting read, one which impressed me more than I expected. While some of the stories are predictable, many more featured creative plots that kept me turning the pages. The art in his volume is spectacular, and the black & white format enhances these stories. Given the artistic talents in this volume, such as Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, and Sergio Aragonés, this is worthy of being showcased.
Footnotes: The House of Mystery was not always a home just for horror tales. In the issues prior to those collected in this Showcase Presents edition, The House of Mystery was a super-hero title, featuring the Martian Manhunter from issue #143 to #173 (reprinted in Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter Vol. 2), and Dial H for HERO from issue #156 to #173 (reprinted in Showcase Presents Dial H for HERO Vol. 1).
The full review can be found at Essential Showcase.
To find the original issues, or reprints, of The House of Mystery, check with your local comic book store. In the Midwest, I strongly recommend Clint’s Comics in midtown Kansas City. Clint’s has been in business for nearly 50 years at the intersection of Main St. and Westport Rd. The back-issue selection is incredible, and what you see in the store is just a small fraction of their total inventory. In addition to the back issues, Clint’s stocks current issues, trade paperbacks, toys, T-shirts, and more. Check out Clint’s Comics to build your own essential collection!