Comic Book Review: The House of Penance #1

The House of Penance #1


Peter J. Tomasi


Ian Bertram


Dave Stewart


Ian Bertram, Dave Stewart


Dark Horse Comics




Apr 13th, 2016


The Winchester House—famous for its original owner’s bizarre compulsion to incorporate a multitude of architectural curiosities. But as the bereaved Sarah Winchester’s workers toil on stairways to nothing and doors to nowhere, a mysterious stranger arrives . . . and he could make Sarah’s demons all too real.


I feel like Peter Tomasi was sitting around and thinking “ya know what would be a pretty cool creepy story? The Winchester House” and he’d be right. The story of how the house full of pathways to nowhere and mythical lore that it haunted by the lives the Winchester rifles had taken over the years is a pretty good backdrop for a horror story. But then I think he decided to hire Ian Bertram so it be can “extra artsy and creepy” and it just fell apart for me right there. The story is a slow burn but we do get introduced to Sarah Winchester and her dementia, along with the insane beginning of the Winchester house. Problem is, Ian Bertrams very stylistic art just is not my cup of tea at all. Someone like Damien Worm (of October Faction) or even Ben Templesmith (30 days of night) might have been better suited here. With them you can get the full nuances of human emotions, and feelings of confusion, disgust, terror, anything! With Betram the art is so distracting I’m almost unable to immerse myself fully into the story. I’d rather just go get one of the many printed stories both fiction and none about the house. Perhaps the artwork will grow on me and I hope it does because I have faith in Tomasi as a writer and this story has everything he could want to work with, but ugh! I just don’t wanna look at it!

The House of Penance page

  • The Hey!: The Winchester house is a super creepy, and definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in San Jose. So I think the atmosphere of this story will prove to be really cool, with hopefully some liberties taken by Tomasi.
  • The Eh: The art, oh man I can’t say it enough. I just really don’t like Ian Betram’s artwork.
  • The What?: There’s a few shots of the house itself, and while I don’t like Betram’s artwork he does do a good job capturing the craziness of the place.
  • Who should read this series?: If you’re a fan of the Winchester house story, or like creepy ghost stories this could be up your alley. It’s also a pretty cool introduction into just how insane Sarah Winchester was and what the house was about.
  • Why should you buy this book?: Tomasi is just an excellent writer, and he handles the slow burn story pacing here well giving us just what we need to want to keep reading to see what’s next.

Score: B-

The House of Penance #1

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