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House of Mystery, Volume 4: The Beauty of Decay

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The House of Mystery has been temporarily relocated to the Space Between, where death rules and the body count continues to rise. Meanwhile, Fig, Peter and Jordan venture out into the city of ghosts to visit the long-abandoned Pathfinder's Academy where the most desperate specters wail and gnash. But the Pathfinder's Academy holds more than ghosts it also contains ancient The House of Mystery has been temporarily relocated to the Space Between, where death rules and the body count continues to rise. Meanwhile, Fig, Peter and Jordan venture out into the city of ghosts to visit the long-abandoned Pathfinder's Academy where the most desperate specters wail and gnash. But the Pathfinder's Academy holds more than ghosts – it also contains ancient dark secrets that will change Fig's life forever. Will Fig and Peter find a way out? And to make matters even worse, the House of Mystery's previous owner has returned to reclaim what's his. Special guest artists include Al Davison (The Spiral Cage), Werther Dell'Edera (Loveless), Antonio Fuso (Fear Agent), and a special tale of Fig Keele: "Teen Detective" by Sweet Tooth creator and Xeric, Alex and Shuster Award-winner Jeff Lemire. Collecting: House of Mystery 16-20, Halloween Special 2009


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The House of Mystery has been temporarily relocated to the Space Between, where death rules and the body count continues to rise. Meanwhile, Fig, Peter and Jordan venture out into the city of ghosts to visit the long-abandoned Pathfinder's Academy where the most desperate specters wail and gnash. But the Pathfinder's Academy holds more than ghosts it also contains ancient The House of Mystery has been temporarily relocated to the Space Between, where death rules and the body count continues to rise. Meanwhile, Fig, Peter and Jordan venture out into the city of ghosts to visit the long-abandoned Pathfinder's Academy where the most desperate specters wail and gnash. But the Pathfinder's Academy holds more than ghosts – it also contains ancient dark secrets that will change Fig's life forever. Will Fig and Peter find a way out? And to make matters even worse, the House of Mystery's previous owner has returned to reclaim what's his. Special guest artists include Al Davison (The Spiral Cage), Werther Dell'Edera (Loveless), Antonio Fuso (Fear Agent), and a special tale of Fig Keele: "Teen Detective" by Sweet Tooth creator and Xeric, Alex and Shuster Award-winner Jeff Lemire. Collecting: House of Mystery 16-20, Halloween Special 2009

30 review for House of Mystery, Volume 4: The Beauty of Decay

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sud666

    House of Mystery was different. Not being clearly labeled, I did not realize this was the 4th volume. Still as this is a pastiche of short stories inside the arc of a larger plot (not bad-rather clever in fact) it didn't seem to make much difference. The overall plot of the people trapped in a different plane of existence I didn't really care for. But some of the short stories are really different. In a good way. The Hounds of Titus Roan was very good. A truly dark and twisted tale. The House of Mystery was different. Not being clearly labeled, I did not realize this was the 4th volume. Still as this is a pastiche of short stories inside the arc of a larger plot (not bad-rather clever in fact) it didn't seem to make much difference. The overall plot of the people trapped in a different plane of existence I didn't really care for. But some of the short stories are really different. In a good way. The Hounds of Titus Roan was very good. A truly dark and twisted tale. The Mise-en-Scene story about St. Germain was also entertaining with some fine prose thrown into the mix. The Tale of Brutus the Bold was rather creative since it tells the story of a brave cockroach. I'm always down for originality and this is certainly a fresh idea. Well done. House and Home will appeal to any fan of Gaiman's Sandman since it features Cain as its main piece. Spellbound was an interesting tale about a cursed book. I really enjoyed this tale. Any reader would. There are also some short stories in the Annual included. These are not bad to ok. Thus overall the "main" plot was one I didn't have much invested in. The short stories really stood out though and they will be the main motivation for my reading more of this series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Aaaannnddd... Everything changes. I think that's a positive development. :) The stories are getting better and better, but I'll tell you true, I like the one about Thralls best. For any book lover, I think that one speaks very well to any of us. We all want to be enthralled by a good tale, after all. I thought it got much better once they were no longer feeling so claustrophobic in the house, but all the types of alchemy that occurred truly made the story a very nice dream. (OR, if I'm not Aaaannnddd... Everything changes. I think that's a positive development. :) The stories are getting better and better, but I'll tell you true, I like the one about Thralls best. For any book lover, I think that one speaks very well to any of us. We all want to be enthralled by a good tale, after all. I thought it got much better once they were no longer feeling so claustrophobic in the house, but all the types of alchemy that occurred truly made the story a very nice dream. (OR, if I'm not mis-imagining things, we're very deep into morpheus's incarceration, so , in point of fact, we're in Dream's Dearth.) Still, an interesting idea. :)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This continues to be a solid series. I didn't love this volume as much as the first 3 but the short side story about The Thralls was terrific. I'm excited to see where the story arcs are going.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    Still not in love with this series. I think I will continue to read it, but it might be too dark and twisted and it's definitely somewhat incomprehensible to me. I really like the idea of stories within stories, which is a prominent feature of this book. I just wasn't that fond of the stories, except I did kind of like the one written by Bill Willingham about a man trapped in a castle with the last surviving servant and the creatures who are stalking them. I despise cockroaches and I found the Still not in love with this series. I think I will continue to read it, but it might be too dark and twisted and it's definitely somewhat incomprehensible to me. I really like the idea of stories within stories, which is a prominent feature of this book. I just wasn't that fond of the stories, except I did kind of like the one written by Bill Willingham about a man trapped in a castle with the last surviving servant and the creatures who are stalking them. I despise cockroaches and I found the tale from the viewpoint of a cockroach utterly disgusting. Your mileage may vary. The Constantine story was interesting but sad. The poet, Eduard's backstory, not sure how I feel about it. I'm not loving the overlying thread of the Conception and Cain. I guess there is some dark humor in the fact that Cain continually kills Abel (who then resurrects), but I am not a huge fan of that plot device. It's just kind of mean, honestly. I do like some of the characters, like Fig and Harry and Pirate Mary, but this is one of those series where you never know if someone is going to get killed off soon, so better not to get too attached to anyone. I'm trying to figure out what is inhibiting my enjoyment of this series. I really do think I have an issue with a lack of clarity in the concept. I feel that things are getting even more difficult to understand (instead of the opposite) and the subject matter is really quite unpalatable. I would like to hold out and see where things go with this series, especially with the Constantine connection. And I hate the fact that I am so clueless about what's going on here. I'm stubborn. Always have been. I won't throw in the towel just yet.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Things come to a grinding and convoluted halt with "The Beauty of Decay," the fourth volume in the HOUSE OF MYSTERY's latest mythology. To write the very least, the resolution of the end game...that is, everything that's happened up to this point in order to reach this particular end...made relatively perfect sense until now. With this particular volume...the most important part of which is the title that shares the volume's name...things change dramatically for our cast and the stage is set for Things come to a grinding and convoluted halt with "The Beauty of Decay," the fourth volume in the HOUSE OF MYSTERY's latest mythology. To write the very least, the resolution of the end game...that is, everything that's happened up to this point in order to reach this particular end...made relatively perfect sense until now. With this particular volume...the most important part of which is the title that shares the volume's name...things change dramatically for our cast and the stage is set for the next "chapter" of the House of Mystery. Unfortunately, it comes on the heels of some accelerated storytelling with (most times) little explanation into the specifics of this world. There are rules. That much is certain. Certain characters respect the rules. That much is even more certain. In the end, the rules will have a very silk-like cast over the events of this series. That much is perfectly certain. True, there's a danger and an excitement to a world that the reader cannot begin to comprehend, but even Gaiman's storytelling with SANDMAN offered some indication that the pieces had been set in place...before Sturges' writing pulled the rug out from under the entire game. In the end, at least one memorable character is dead, though we're promised in sideways commentary that we might see him (Oops! Or HER) again, and for the moment, another major character makes his (Damn again! Perhaps it's HER) exit from the series (though if Sturges has demonstrated anything through this particular story, it's that nothing is what it seems, so don't despair that you've seen the last of [INSERT HERO'S NAME HERE:]). Meanwhile, Rossi's artwork steals the show with this particular volume. The unique line work has always accentuated the storytelling, but as the storytelling becomes a bit more confusing with each chapter, Rossi's artwork becomes the anchor (seemingly interrupted mid-storyline by a guest penciller) of "Decay." The inclusion of the title's first-ever annual, while creative with its use of other Vertigo characters (as well as the use of artists like Camuncoli, Allred, Buckingham, and Hamley, in addition to the writers that offer their talents to those singular narratives) and their relative connection to the House of Mystery--at least, where it's related to storytelling--does little to catapult this volume to greatness outside of introduce you to some characters and creative talents that you might be missing out on if you're not dipping your quill in the ink of other Vertigo titles. To that end, it truly appears that everything tracing back to the first issue of HOUSE OF MYSTERY was somehow leading here, where this volume's major story was concerned, but where you find yourself once you get there is even more perplexing than the mystery that the house possessed... ...Once upon a time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Lohr

    *This review can also be found on my blog, The Never-Ending TBR Pile. Decay. Betrayal. Loss. House of Mystery keeps ramping up as more revelations take place and relationships are tested. Not everyone makes it in this volume and others end up in places they would have never thought possible. The artwork is spot on, as always, portraying events and emotions and concepts utilizing diverse styles that fit with the stories. This particular volume also included a bonus Halloween section that was *This review can also be found on my blog, The Never-Ending TBR Pile. Decay. Betrayal. Loss. House of Mystery keeps ramping up as more revelations take place and relationships are tested. Not everyone makes it in this volume and others end up in places they would have never thought possible. The artwork is spot on, as always, portraying events and emotions and concepts utilizing diverse styles that fit with the stories. This particular volume also included a bonus Halloween section that was brilliantly drawn and written which made this an even more enjoyable read. I also liked that it had a couple of excerpts from iZombie and Constantine that tied in with the Halloween theme! The ending leaves a lot of questions still to be answered and new arrangements to be explored. Good-byes, compromises, and new beginnings round out this installment and leave me eager to continue on to the next volume!

  7. 5 out of 5

    GrilledCheeseSamurai (Scott)

    This book finally brings to a close a major arc that has been slowly building since Volume one. In it we lose some characters that I was really wanting to learn more about, which is sadness. However, some new plot threads are woven and have me really intrigued as to what is going to happen next. Also, we are treated to a tragic love story between two cockroaches, written by none other than the magnificent, Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth) himself. I'd have to say, for me, that this has been the weakest This book finally brings to a close a major arc that has been slowly building since Volume one. In it we lose some characters that I was really wanting to learn more about, which is sadness. However, some new plot threads are woven and have me really intrigued as to what is going to happen next. Also, we are treated to a tragic love story between two cockroaches, written by none other than the magnificent, Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth) himself. I'd have to say, for me, that this has been the weakest volume of the bunch so far. Still, I am enjoying the overall structure and story of the book as a whole, and am pretty stoked to see what is going to happen next now that the dust has finally settled a little bit.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Fantasy author Matthew Sturges (with some occasional help from author writers) has made this into a nice little anthology series. with some resolution as to Fig and her father's story, with a dangling plot thread promising something unpleasant for Fig's. The short storylines woven into the TPB's overall story are very good.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Howell Murray

    About half of this book followed the continung story line and was good, but the other half was standalone stories with seemingly no connection to the plot. Or maybe I just missed something.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Annnnnd I'm done. I realized I was completely through with this series after I put it down for a couple of days and then picked it up again only to find I couldn't remember anything that had happened in it. That's a pretty solid mark of an empty story, and this one is the emptiest. Having now refreshed my memory of what happened, I can attest that everything I said about volume 3 is even more true of volume 4. There is no rhyme or reason to any plot developments. Sturges has not been gradually Annnnnd I'm done. I realized I was completely through with this series after I put it down for a couple of days and then picked it up again only to find I couldn't remember anything that had happened in it. That's a pretty solid mark of an empty story, and this one is the emptiest. Having now refreshed my memory of what happened, I can attest that everything I said about volume 3 is even more true of volume 4. There is no rhyme or reason to any plot developments. Sturges has not been gradually hinting at things to come, or dropping clues here and there that build towards something. He just shoves a new thing into the story whenever he needs it. There is still no clear explanation about who the Conception are or why they want the House, and yet we are supposed to feel like we don't want them to get it no matter what. I couldn't care less what any single person does in this story. And on those people. None of them have backstories worth a turd. How am I supposed to care about a group full of featureless strangers whose names I can barely remember? When some of them die in this volume I was straight up could not tell if I was meant to remember who they were, and yet it was treated like a beloved character had passed away. This is some of the weakest writing I've seen from Vertigo in a long time. I'm not going to waste much more time on this, except I will say that if you want a true mystery that builds organically and explores its characters, just read Locke & Key and throw this series in the trash. There is nothing redeeming here.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    In volume 4, the House of Mystery has been transported to to the ruins of the city of dimensional travelers, both the residents and the bar's patrons--and Fig's father--are worried that they may be trapped there, and the bad guys are on their way. We learn a lot more about the race of people that can travel between worlds, we finally learn the backstory and the name of the final inhabitant of the House, and we see some action as enemies converge upon our heroes. At the end of the volume in the In volume 4, the House of Mystery has been transported to to the ruins of the city of dimensional travelers, both the residents and the bar's patrons--and Fig's father--are worried that they may be trapped there, and the bad guys are on their way. We learn a lot more about the race of people that can travel between worlds, we finally learn the backstory and the name of the final inhabitant of the House, and we see some action as enemies converge upon our heroes. At the end of the volume in the first special annual issue, with a Halloween theme, containing a bunch of stories surrounding a mysterious and creepy mask, guest starring characters from other comics. Sadly, this volume did not seem as great as the first three. Here, the overarching story--while still interesting--was sped up, almost as if we're now racing toward a finish that we thought we had plenty of time to get to. Characters are being killed off left and right, mysteries and questions are being answered, and things seem to be being set into place for the story to end--or, at least, to change rather dramatically. Other than the rapid pacing, I have no real complaints about this volume: the art in the main storyline was great and the story was good, the side stories were interesting, and I really liked the Halloween special issue. But none of it blew me away, the way the first three volumes had. It was definitely worth reading. It was good, it just wasn't great.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Max

    I've never been the biggest fan of this series. I try to check out at least the first trade/story arc of most Vertigo titles. In this case, after reading the first trade, I didn't have much intention in continuing House of Mystery. However, out of lack of reading anything else I decided to grab the second volume, and then later the third, enjoying each consecutive volume more than the last. This volume, despite being somewhat of a climax for the first couple years of the series, is where the I've never been the biggest fan of this series. I try to check out at least the first trade/story arc of most Vertigo titles. In this case, after reading the first trade, I didn't have much intention in continuing House of Mystery. However, out of lack of reading anything else I decided to grab the second volume, and then later the third, enjoying each consecutive volume more than the last. This volume, despite being somewhat of a climax for the first couple years of the series, is where the quality drops quite a bit again. The arc simultaneously felt a bit decompressed and rushed. Not much happened in the first few issues, and then towards the end of the arc when the plot got moving it was anti-climactic. Ceorel was just kind of thrown away without ever being known much as a villain or antagonist. The other character deaths were alike in not really evoking much emotion one way or the other. And Cain went from being a menace to at the end working with Fig in the House of Mystery. I guess just everything was tied up too nicely. The Halloween Annual, on the other hand, was a lot of fun and it was cool getting to see characters like Constantine and Merv. Excited for the next (this) year's. I'm a bit of a completist with series, and especially at this point I'm likely to continue on with the series but I hope the next volume is a return to form. Considering even at its best it was never really a favorite of mine I may drop it if the quality doesn't pick up soon.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    It's really between a 2 and a half or so. It could've been because I read Vol. 4 as oppose to reading the series from the beginning, but I don't think that's it. The narration I liked and some of the illustrations I liked a lot. But there were some things that felt unnecessary. For example to sexual references or the vulgar language, I mean I'm not against any of that when it's called for in the story but there is a big difference between depiction moments of intimacy or being vulgar in relation It's really between a 2 and a half or so. It could've been because I read Vol. 4 as oppose to reading the series from the beginning, but I don't think that's it. The narration I liked and some of the illustrations I liked a lot. But there were some things that felt unnecessary. For example to sexual references or the vulgar language, I mean I'm not against any of that when it's called for in the story but there is a big difference between depiction moments of intimacy or being vulgar in relation to the story and a whole other thing to include it in the story just because you can. I would've liked the volume a tremendous amount more if the tasteless aspects were taken out.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    The concluding annual features a Hellblazer short, which makes me realise how much I miss John Constantine. I know there are a comic and a TV show about someone with the same name but pronounced wrong, who looks a bit similar, but the nasty, grubby, real Constantine...comics aren't the same without him. The framing story continues to be a competent enough slice of the old Vertigo universe, with the scene of Cain as a therapist one of its highlights ("Did you ever consider that the cause of your The concluding annual features a Hellblazer short, which makes me realise how much I miss John Constantine. I know there are a comic and a TV show about someone with the same name but pronounced wrong, who looks a bit similar, but the nasty, grubby, real Constantine...comics aren't the same without him. The framing story continues to be a competent enough slice of the old Vertigo universe, with the scene of Cain as a therapist one of its highlights ("Did you ever consider that the cause of your problem might be that you're stupid and ugly?").

  15. 5 out of 5

    colleen the convivial curmudgeon

    3.5 The story progressed in odd and interesting ways, with people dropping all over the place. But the bulk of this volume was the interludes, which were ok, but not great. It was good to see more of Cain, though, and I wonder what will become of Fig & Harry, since I imagine there will be more to it. The Halloween story at the end with the glimpses into other series was amusing. Always nice to pass a nod to Constantine as things go by.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Izlinda

    I hadn't read the third volume so I was a little "What on Earth is going on?" I still had some blanks when I finished the volume, but oh, well. We have some kind of resolution. It was fun reading the stories about the author stuck in a castle with the wolves/dogs outside the gates holding them captive and the Thralls. The actual story about the characters centered in the House of Mystery was a little meh. I don't know if it would make a difference if I had read the intervening volume.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    My favorite graphic novel is the macabre, creepy graphic novel. I was turned onto this series loosely based on the old House of Mystery comic books of the past. This is the fourth in the series! There is one story encompassing the whole series, that of the people populating a bar in the House of Mystery, but those bar patrons need to tell stories to get drinks so there is plenty of short treasures in the pages as well. The art is great and diverse!

  18. 4 out of 5

    S.M.M. Lindström

    While I like all the little side-stories in this series, there weren't many of those in this issue. Instead we got a lot of plot-threads for each character and while they were interesting, it didn't feel like the mood and set-up from the first two books. So while I wasn't exactly disappointed by this, I did feel that the story was headed somewhere predictable (well, predictable within the fantasy genre at least).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scott Lee

    Another fine volume, although I can only give four stars because of the seemingly unresolved nature of this first arc. I don't like being left in the dark on Fig's climactic deal. We get some ideas of what it is, but the ending was slighted a bit for me because while the plot events were resolved, the fates of the characters seems entirely ambivalent. Ah well. It make me want to dive into that next volume...

  20. 5 out of 5

    megan-redwitch

    so this one seems like the end of the story in a way, and didn't really wow me - again it had some good stories within the larger framework, but i am not sure how great the overall ending was here...if it was the end...perhaps it is just going to go on but at least for now not that impressed...although if another one comes out i probably will read it :)

  21. 5 out of 5

    zxvasdf

    Cain wants his house back. Things are FUBAR what with the Conception meddling. Ghosts go bonko, and it all goes belly up. The Halloween issue is especially delicious, what with the Dreaming left in the hands of Mervyn Pumpkinhead during that night of haunts. Is it a good idea? Perhaps not, if you take account of the considerable amount of booze Mervyn has got tucked away.

  22. 5 out of 5

    LemontreeLime

    This tale is getting... complicated. and too many of the most likable characters have been dying. and please give Cain something more to do. He's starting to take on the role of Statler and Waldorf, the grumpy hecklers from the Muppet show, instead of gleefully introducing new insanity, which is what that character was always best at.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jaimie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The gang is stilled trapped in the world filld with angry ghosts, but they're now joined by Cain, who really just wants his house back. Ironically it's the Conception who come to save the day by transporting both House and occupants to a new world filled with more normal inhabitants. The question now becomes: what deal did Fig make with the Conception, and what will the consequences be?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Venus Maneater

    There's a house running from its master and lots of love being lost on the way. It's a confusing ride, much more so than the previous volumes. At the very end I felt disappointed, but still I can't stop wondering what the new management will bring. There's still the need to keep reading, which is the sign of a good story, right?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I seem to have lost interest in this series, although my significant other is still quite engaged in the story. Maybe it's the horror element, the gore, or the many story lines, or rather stories within the main story, that I am confusing and not paying enough attention to.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Good, but not amazing. We learn a bit more about the house, Cain, and Fig - plus, there is a Halloween special. And I'm a sucker for Halloween specials. I'll keep reading. The story behind the house is decent mythology building, and the mini-stories are occasionally great.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    The storyline that's been unfolding over the previous three volumes finally comes to a close. I'm curious to see where it will go next. This is an entertaing and even enjoyable series. It's just not particularly memorable. Decent stuff, just not spectacular.

  28. 4 out of 5

    nidah05 (SleepDreamWrite)

    Pretty much what describes the series so far and wow is the art all over the place and it is awesome. Creepy but awesome. This got pumpkins, Halloween stuff, dragons. And I'm okay with that. Oh right and the story gets interesting of course. Cover is sad but you can't look away at the same time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joe Jones

    Another fun book in this comic series.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Morbus Iff

    I have forgotten what this was about already.

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