James Tynion IV has been busy the past few years. Between his work on the super popular Something is Killing the Children (rumored to become a Netflix series co-written by the much-admired Doctor Sleep's Trevor Macy and Mike Flanagan) and his last work on the DC Batman franchise (which culminated November this year) among other projects, The Nice House on the Lake launched its first six of twelve total issues beginning in June 2021.
Fans of Tynion IV's other work will be pleased with the compact yet engaging narrative style + accents of dark humor that are complimented, or deepened, by the intricate and innovative artistic language of Álvaro Martínez Bueno's panels. Much to fans' dismay, a 5-month hiatus was announced in August, separating the first half of the series' 6th issue in November from the re-launch in March 2022. Volume 1 of the first six issues is also on pre-order with release date of March 1, 2022.
In the meantime, there is plentiful reason to revel in the content we have and pontificate our theories on the whiteboard (or wherever). Without giving too much away, the premise: ten individuals who are given generic roles/titles (i.e. "The Artist" and "The Pianist"), as well as symbols for each, find themselves essentially "trapped" together at a gorgeous, contemporary lakehouse (could be worse?) somewhere in Wisconsin at the request of their dear friend, Walter, in the summer of 2021. Shortly after arriving, the outside world erupts in mayhem, and the group is left to unravel their connections, purpose and survival.
There is a lot of connecting the dots here, both metaphorically and literally, which speaks well for our writer - as readers we are actively engaged in solving these mysteries with as much investment as our characters. Each of the first six issues individually highlights the perspective of one character (it's presumed the remaining six issues will capture the full ensemble) and sheds new light on the story.
The use of multiple communication mediums is a welcomed trope, including: email exchanges, grocery lists, journal entries, whiteboard brainstorm sessions, paintings, maps, mobile phone photos, and even old AIM convos. Visually, it invokes an immersive and intriguing experience and adds depth to the universe Tynion IV and Martínez Bueno have created.
Heavily speckled with elements of science fiction and the possibility of multiple dimensions, realities or planes of existence and playing with some supernatural powers, we're very curious to see where the second half of the series takes us given that issue six indeed leaves us on a precipice. Just as we begin to see the constellations align, the astral or otherworldly rug is swept out from beneath us.
There is some really great character development here too, given the inventive storytelling elements. And the playful qualities of Martínez Bueno's visual narrative warrant revisiting. Pick up copies at your local comic store, leave your comments below and follow the creators on IG: @jamesthefourth and @alvaromartinezbueno_comic.