Mysteria’s Mansion 2010 Annual edited by Nik Havert
I seem to be reading a fair amount of horror anthologies lately. I can't say there has been any sort of master plan to make this happen, but horror anthologies are never a bad thing in my world. Occasionally disappointing, sure, but rarely worthless. This one is told from the perspective of the reader wandering into the creepy home of Mysteria (the Crypt Keeper of this volume, or maybe Elvira would be a better comparison) as she gives you the tour and shows items that serve as launching pads for stories. It's never explained why "you" are in there in the first place, but I'm almost definitely overthinking things if that's even on my mind. First up is a piece about an old shriveled up mummy (written by Nik, who wrote everything, and drawn by Alberto Aprea), and if you've ever read a story about the discovery of a mummy in a comic book you know where this one is headed. That's not to say that it's a bad story, and Nik throws in a few twists and turns here and there. Next up is Underfoot (art by Jaime Hood), which deals with an abusive father, a small girl, her mother and a cat. If you look at the sample (as I sampled it before reading the book) you can see where it is headed although, again, with a few twists thrown in. The highlight of the book is probably the third story, and yeah, it probably has something to do with it being drawn by Bill Messner-Loebs. This one finally answers the question of what Charon does with the money people need to cross Styx and get into the official afterlife, and I don't want to give it away here. Finally there's an action-packed and creepy tale (art by Chris Herndon) dealing with a guy and his "narrow escape" from the cops. Ah, even the quotes practically qualify as a spoiler. Just ignore them. The bits in between with Mysteria seemed amusing but mostly pointless which, if you think about it, is true for most horror anthologies and their hosts. Still, in some of the old EC books there was either a sense of menace of playfulness from the hosts, and this time around it felt more like a lonely spinster trying to keep an audience. All told it's still a pretty fun book, and have I mentioned that it's all in color and that there are pin-ups in the back? Seems like that deserved a mention.