PUBLISHER: DC | FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The DC Universe amps up the creep factor for this spooky anthology book, dropping just in time for Halloween. Eight short stories, each tackling a different subgenre of horror, from the Lovecraftian to the classic haunted house. Except... with superheroes.
First up, the welcome return of Red Rain's vampire Batman; a slight but atmospheric tale in which the (vampire) Bat attempts to protect Commissioner Gordon's daughter from a very Elseworlds version of the Talon. This serves as a solid entry point to the book, adding unexpected layers to the character – and more than a hint of poignancy, given how things ultimately turn out for this universe's Batman.
Then it's onto 'The Footsteps of the Old Worm', the jewel in Secrets of Sinister House's crown, and a story so good that the anthology never really recovers. Ryan Choi is the Atom, investigating an ancient tomb in a spooky old mansion. Dan Watters' use of narration from Choi's horrified journal is pure H.P Lovecraft, as is his choice of night terrors, putting poor Choi through the wringer. The artwork from Sumit Kumar is suitably morbid, and flows really well on from the previous tale.
Which is more than we can say for 'Calling Doctor Bonkers!' or 'Dreamweavers'; Harley Quinn and Justice League Dark stories, respectively (and both featuring a rather pivotal role for Zatanna). Neither is particularly dark or scary, tonally at odds with the other stories and relatively fluffy compared to the other themes and horrors at play.
Better the Martian Manhunter's 'Out of my Skin', 'House of the Dead' and 'Fear 101' – Event Horizon, featuring two Green Lanterns. Nothing beyond 'The Footsteps of the Old Worm' is especially memorable, but the art and colouring is on point throughout, and there's not a true dud in the book. Aptly, it closes out on a John Constantine tale – a dark and nasty story by the standards of this anthology, but not even close to the horrors of Constantine's Hellblazer days.
While there are stronger anthologies and far better DC horror stories out there, Secrets of Sinister House is a fun seasonal read, with excellent artwork and canny character moments for favourites new and old.