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).
If you like this volume, try: the Solo 12-issue series from DC Comics from 2004. This was recently collected as a hardcover edition in 2013. Each issue spotlighted the art from a different artist, who was given the freedom to do whatever they wanted to do for an issue. With art from creators such as Tim Sale, Darwyn Cooke, and Paul Pope, this is a diverse title that gives you a sample of all aspects and eras of the DC Universe. My personal favorite came with issue #11, which featured art by Sergio Aragonés, whose first non-MAD Magazine art is collected in this Showcase Presents, Each issue was ad-free, so it was a full 32 pages of original work. This is a great volume to pick up and take to conventions to collect autographs from the artists.