Rating: 3.5/5 – Destiny and More Host this Haunted House of Stories.
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
I’ve written quite a few vintage reviews of horror comics and along the way have either been introduced to, or reunited with some wonderful hosts. Whether it be the Witches in the Witching Hour, Lucien from Ghost Castle, or even Baron Weirwulf from Haunted, I have a fondness for these horror hosts. Secrets of Haunted House is another horror anthology comic from DC that started in 1975 and had a pretty decent run until its end in 1982. So who’s the host of this first issue? Well it’s Destiny, a host we’ve seen before in another anthology from a few years before titled Weird Mystery Tales. In this first issue, we see him on a cliff alongside Cain and Abel from the Houses of Mystery and Secrets, as well as Eve from the Secrets of Sinister House. Although these hosts are all here, it’s Destiny and Cain that provide the two tales for this issue that’s rounded out by a three page framing sequence.
The first of the two stories is titled “Dead Heat” and it’s about two ambulance drivers that have a twisted sense of humor by tallying the scores of the victims they save and lose. It’s written by Michael J. Pellowski and scripted by Robert Kanigher with really wonderful art by Ernie Chua. I enjoyed the story quite a bit up until the very end. It of course has a twist ending, but that ending unfortunately didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The ending and the story itself are both cool ideas, but together they’re poorly executed. Thank goodness for the second tale titled “Fish Story”…
In “Fish Story” we see Cain hosting a man at the House of Mystery who tells him a story about a fish creature that after months of captivity ultimately becomes a monster. It’s written by Jack Oleck with art by Alex Nino. The art is sensational and the creature itself, who you can see on the cover by Luis Dominguez, doesn’t compare to Nino’s frightening interpretation inside. And the ending? It’s a twist that I didn’t see coming and is quite clever in its execution. It more than made up for the ending of the first story and makes this issue a must read.
There’s also a one-page Sergio Aragones strip that’s cute, but not all that memorable. This issue finishes off with a note from the editor explaining why Destiny is the new host of Secrets of Haunted House. It turns out that after Eve took over hosting duties for Weird Mystery Tales, sales on that book went up! So Destiny moved into a new house, along with a few other hosts. Not a ringing endorsement for the host of this first issue, displaced because he wasn’t popular in his last gig, but at least they were honest! I love all things DC horror so this was a must buy for me, but if you can find a copy on the cheap, it’s worth it for the history, hosts and the second story.
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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