The Nice House on the Lake by James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez Bueno, and Jordie Bellaire
The Nice House on the Lake Cast of Characters
Each character in this graphic novel has an official title and associated symbol, this is integral to the plot and helps to sort out the large cast.
Walter: no title. The orchestrator of the group coming to the house. He’s in charge.
Ryan: Artist. A newer member of the group and the least familiar among the long time friends.
Norah: Writer. A trans woman, born Norman. Some of the people in the group have yet to fully embrace her transition.
David: Comedian. As with most comedians he is the life of the party and the least serious.
Molly: Accountant. The only member with a partner to be invited alone. She misses her husband.
Veronica: Scientist. One of the smartest among the group and has known Walter the longest.
Sam: Reporter. Came out as gay to Walter back in high school, they’ve been close since.
Naya: Doctor. Highly competent and driven, also a darn good cook.
Rick: Pianist. The most loyal to Walter.
Reg: Artist. The one that wasn’t invited.
Spoiler Free Review
The Nice House on the Lake is a horror graphic novel within the apocalyptic genre. A group of friends is invited to stay at an old friend’s summer home for an extended vacation. They are happy to be there and see everyone in the same place for the first time in who knows how long. It’s a hodgepodge group but everyone is eager to have fun and enjoy it.
Walter, the man who put everything together, is the common link between them all. Some are very old friends and others are newer additions. No matter how well they know each other they’ll need to learn to live with each other when news breaks that the world is ending outside this lakeside property.
Things move quickly from there as they discover that they are trapped in the house, for eternity. Walter has brought them there specifically to survive the end of the world. Who or what is Walter really? Why were they chosen? What do they do now? Read The Nice House on the Lake to find out.
The story is broken up in pieces. Each issue has a different narrator who tells what’s happening now as well as what happened before in their flashbacks. The reader gets to know how everyone got to this point, how they all know Walter, and how they all fit together. Their titles are just as important as their personalities and each character is judged by the work they do for society.
The graphic novel, from DC’s Black Label of comic books, contains supernatural elements, apocalypse themes, and a whole lot of horror. It features a diverse cast with a special emphasis on LGBTQ characters who are represented truthfully and not just to check some boxes. The biggest strength of The Nice House on the Lake is its large cast and how they all fit into the story with their own roles.
It can often be difficult to juggle so many characters but this creative team nails it. For an apocalypse story with a very personal investment check out this mature comic book.
5/5 houses 🏡🏡🏡🏡🏡
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The Nice House on the Lake Summary
The Nice House on the Lake starts off by setting the ominous tone. Walter is an odd man who likes to talk about how the world will end. He brings it up in conversations even when it doesn’t quite make sense. He sends out an invite to his entire friend group, new and old, to come spend a summer vacation at his luxurious lake house.
He does not take no for an answer and goes so far as to buy transport and eliminate any excuses they might have for taking time off. This vacation is happening no matter what. He has invited people from as far back as high school and it appears that he’s been planning this for a long time.
On the first night news breaks that a horrific attack is destroying the world. There are fires, people are breaking out in biblical level boils, some have exploding eyeballs, just all around awful stuff. Everyone is freaking out and cannot reach out to communicate with their families.
Walter says that he’s chosen them as the survivors of this event and that they are forever restricted to this property. He then says he’s not human and promptly disappears.
Without any clue of how to properly react to that the group sets out to explore. They find an invisible wall at the end of the road as well a strange statue. When anyone touches the statue it shows the burning wreckage of everything they’ve ever loved back in the rest of the world. Although there are other statues around this is the only one with this harrowing power.
Each character processes this event differently. Some are depressed, some are solution oriented, and others are just confused and maybe in denial. All they know is that they are able to put desired items onto a list and a package arrives for them every day. They will never be without what they need to survive.
Molly isn’t receiving what she asks for though. See, Walter only invited her and not her husband. She initially kept asking for him to bring her husband to her but that is obviously not possible. Then she started asking for a straight razor so that she could kill herself. The box doesn’t arrive for this request.
David decides to help her out and orders a straight razor himself. He doesn’t want her to die but he does have a theory. Together they use the razor and determine that they are unable to kill themselves, they can’t die.
Upon further exploration they go to a mysterious building and open it by touching their individually assigned symbols. Inside the building is one more friend, Reg. Everyone wondered why he wasn’t invited, he’s been trapped here all along.
Reg confesses that he helped Walter do all of this. He’s been helping him for years but thinks that the end of the world is actually a projection and they’re just in a trial run. This is an unacceptable train of thought and Walter wipes their memories. He instead implants memories of Reg being at the home this entire time. Start over.
However, with Reg in the group someone else must be displaced. Norah is no longer present and no one remembers she ever was. She’s very resentful of being forced to help Walter now. She attempts to message the group on the outside by communicating through mirrors.
This time they discover that they can’t be hurt through an acupuncture session. With this knowledge they decide to play a little game of shoot each other with guns and see what that’s like. While this game is going on Ryan is messing around with controls that Norah left instructions for. Her messages got through!
Ryan turns down the invincibility factor just as Naya is shot, she dies. Everyone’s memories from as far back as when they first met Walter are returned. This flood of information is a lot for them to handle but events are occurring too quickly to ignore.
Walter has Masters that have certain criteria for this whole scenario. There can be only one artist and an exact number of participants. Ryan or Reg must go to account for the artist slot but with Naya dead the number of total members is correct.
The changing of settings has also made Walter vulnerable as well. Everyone can now die.
The group votes on what to do and they decide to kill Walter and attempt to maintain their experiment for as long as possible without the Masters figuring out that anything is wrong. Although they think this was the solution they all came to willingly it was orchestrated behind the scenes by Norah and Walter. He’s still alive, just back in the background.
What happens next? Well there is a cycle two planned that hints that they’re at peace with their lives in the Nice House on the Lake but they’ll soon have to defend it. Stay tuned for the next issues!
5/5 houses 🏡🏡🏡🏡🏡