House of Mystery #174 (DC)



Rating: 3.5/5 – The Return of Horror…Reprints…
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

House of Mystery was originally a horror anthology that began back in 1951. Similar to E.C. and plenty of other horror titles of the time, when the Comics Code Authority started to enforce tougher rules and regulations, House of Mystery changed its focus to include more science fiction stories and in even later issues, super heroes like the Martian Manhunter headlining the book and even the original Dial “H” for Hero with Robby Reed. Then in 1968, Joe Orlando was chosen to be the editor of the book and horror returned to the House of Mystery with issue number 174.

I recently picked up a run of House of Mystery that includes issues 174 through the final issue, number 321. Although I did have to purchase some duplicates that I already had in my collection, buying comics in a large run like this can usually be had at a cheaper price/per issue. Although the cover is a true classic and is a new piece of art created for this issue, the internal stories consist of reprints from earlier issues, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t enjoyable. For the most part they were, although there were a couple misses.

The first story is titled “the Wondrous Witch’s Cauldron” and has an actual cauldron with a mind of it’s own trying to find an owner so it’s not left alone. It’s a bit hokey and definitely a wordy tale, but still enjoyable despite having some art that didn’t work for me.

The next story titled “The Man who Hated Good Luck” was my favorite of the book, and goes against the grain in believing that all short horror anthology stories have to end in a dark or horrific twist. Don Barker does everything he can to avoid good luck like winning the lottery, or inheriting a castle. We’re not sure why until the very end which is sweet and touching and because it wasn’t horrific, I actually didn’t see it coming!   We then get a one-page Sergio Aragones pin-up/story, a visit to a museum of worthless inventions and finally a story called the Court of Creatures that unfortunately ended the book on a low note.

Issue #174 of House of Mystery is historic as the return of horror to the title, but since this is full of reprints, you may be better off starting your collection of this series with issue 175 which also features longtime House of Mystery host Cain.  175 is next on my now huge stack of House of Mysteries to read and I’m looking forward to reading and hopefully reviewing it soon!

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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