House of Penance #1

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi Artist: Ian Bertram Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Release Date: April 13, 2016 Cover Price: $3.99 Critic Reviews: 22 User Reviews: 9
8.2Critic Rating
8.4User Rating


The Winchester House—famous for its original owner’s bizarre compulsion to incorporate a multitude of architectural curiosities. But as the bereaved Sarah Winchester’s workers toil on stairways to nothing and doors to nowhere, a mysterious stranger arrives . . . and he could make Sarah’s demons all too real.

  • 10
    The Fandom Post - Josh Begley Apr 16, 2016

    House of Penance came with some high praise from both Scott Snyder and Garth Ennis. Sometimes, when you see praise like that from artists you admire, the work can't possibly live up to the expectations they create. House of Penance stands up. It's an engaging, atmospheric first issue that lingers long after you've read it, and I am looking forward to the next issue. Read Full Review

  • 10
    Outright Geekery - Eli Funaro Apr 14, 2016

    Overall, House of Penance #1 is a strong first entry in this haunting tale. The plot sucks the reader into its mystery and raises the tension and terror. The art is a perfect blend of detail and abstract that gives the comic an unsettling quality that reflects the creepy nature of the story. Haunted house tales may be difficult to translate into a comic form but this book benefits from the true historical account that this story is based on. House of Penance is a creepy disturbing tale of madness that fans of Poe and The Shining would enjoy. Is the Winchester House really haunted, or is it all a part of Sarah's decaying mind? Both answers are equally frightening. Read Full Review

  • 10
    ComicWow!TV - Bhavna Bakshi Apr 14, 2016

    This is some of Tomasi’s best work to date. This is an intensely atmospheric, dark, horrific, macabre, and almost philosophical comic book. After I finished reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a good long while. I hope we get to see Sarah’s demons come to life. Keep reading if you do, too. Read Full Review

  • 10
    Nerdophiles - Jackson Adams Apr 16, 2016

    It's been a long time since Tomasi has written a non-superhero comic but he's come out swinging with a difficult, but incredibly rewarding piece, all with stunning art from Bertram and a wonderfully moody, evocative color pallet, courtesy of Dark Horse mainstay Dave Stewart. This is a comic that's not to be missed and is without a doubt, one of the best debut issues of recent memory. Read Full Review

  • 9.1
    Major Spoilers - Thomas J. Angelo Apr 12, 2016

    House of Penance #1 is the perfect book for American history fans to experience some unsettling thrills and chills. Read Full Review

  • 9.0
    Big Comic Page - Craig Neilson-Adams Mar 18, 2016

    A historical horror story that is guaranteed to crawl under your skin, HOUSE OF PENANCE is uncomfortable, unconventional and thoroughly unmissable. Dark Horse continues to cement its place as the absolute pinnacle of horror comics, and with a gripping first issue, both visually and narratively, I honestly cant recommend this series highly enough. Read Full Review

  • 9.0
    Newsarama - Justin Partridge Mar 29, 2016

    If films like Crimson Peak or true weird tales of history strike your fancy, then House of Penance #1 is certainly the book for you. Even the staunchest of genre fan will find something to love about this Dark Horse debut because it is so singularly weird that it demands that you take notice of it. Peter J. Tomasi, Ian Bertram, and Dave Stewart fully commit to this dark tale of an American heiress, gripped by grief and use it as a firm base for this creepy tale of woe, bullets, and stairs that go to nowhere. Horror fans, get your pre-orders in now. The House awaits. Read Full Review

  • 9.0
    Comic Spectrum - Shawn Hoklas Apr 19, 2016

    Peter Tomasi takes the legend of Sarah Winchester to a more personal place. We see Sarah within this huge home struggling with the "curse" of housing spirits, as well as her intense loneliness as she longs for her deceased husband and daughter. We're also introduced to a new character whose place in this story isn't quite clear yet, but I get the feeling that it may not end well due to his actions prior to ending up at the house. I so enjoyed this fictional take on this actual historic story and feel compelled by Tomasi and Bertram's story to do a little more research on the famous Winchester House, and definitely come back for the remainder of this series. Read Full Review

  • 8.9
    Multiversity Comics - Alice W. Castle Apr 14, 2016

    A strong recommendation from me to at the very least just check out the art. It's worth the price of admission alone. Read Full Review

  • 8.8
    Graphic Policy - christopher scott author Apr 9, 2016

    The artwork is dark, atmospheric, yet not morbid yet. I will admit the main character has these oddly terrifying, wide, almost sleep deprived eyes. There is something dark behind those eyes, it just hasn't been revealed yet. Yet, I'm interested to find out if those blood splattered pipes that the cover has lead to. Read Full Review

  • 8.5
    IGN - Jeff Lake Apr 14, 2016

    House of Penance #1, from the creative team of Peter J. Tomasi, Ian Bertram and Dave Stewart, is a debut of immediate and riveting intrigue. Drawing influence from Sarah Winchester's famed Mystery House, Penance #1 offers a dark look at the physical and psychological effects of loss and guilt, as told through the unblinking eyes of the titular structure's warden. Read Full Review

  • 8.0
    Comic Book Resources - Jim Johnson Apr 13, 2016

    "House of Penance" #1 excels by presenting a decidedly disturbing mood as a preface to any significant story development. Tomasi and Bertram grab readers by showing them there's something really wrong inside this house of mysteries, even if the precise nature of what that is remains a mystery unto itself for now. Read Full Review

  • 8.0
    Horror DNA - James Ferguson Apr 12, 2016

    House of Penance is creepy from the jump.  You get this immediate sense of the skeevies, like something is just not right here.  That feeling only intensifies with each page turn.  This is not a horror story that will jump right out and scare you.  Instead, it will slowly seep in, getting under your skin and making you look over your shoulder as you read on.  The first issue introduces you to this world and all the strangeness that surrounds it.  The fact that this is a real place and an actual woman from history ups the creep factor to eleven. Read Full Review

  • 8.0
    Doom Rocket - Arpad Okay Apr 14, 2016

    This sinister effect is the product of a seamless creative team. Peter Tomasi's storytelling is well suited for Ian Bertram's simple and expressive artwork, and Dave Stewart's colors cement the otherworldly atmosphere that this book demands. Almond eyes on a waspish face, brutish loaves of men, scars and hollow cheeks. Winchester and Peck could both have come straight from the pages of Vault of Horror, but their story has the luridintrigue ofSunset Blvd. The lonely old witch. The one murderer in town who is looking to die. So much of the story is still shrouded in mystery. And things seem bound to get much worse. Read Full Review

  • 8.0
    All-Comic - Alex Mansfield Mar 25, 2016

    House of Penance #1 is nothing short of a tactile experience of madness and horror. It's delightfully unsettling in its controlled chaos and structured grotesquery. A swirling mystery set inside a mystery house, Tomasi, Bertram, and Stewart have debuted a title that's engrossing and palpable in its search for closure. Read Full Review

  • 8.0 - John McCubbin Apr 12, 2016

    House of Penance #1 is simply, a must have comic for fans of horror and American history. It may not give us a huge lot of development, feeling a little over the place, but the overall character depth and unique tone more than makes up for this. Read Full Review

  • 7.0
    Comic Crusaders - Dylan Hicks Mar 16, 2016

    All of that aside, House of Penance was a fun read. The art was perfect, and the writing was sinister. Definitely pick this one up if you are into horror or westerns. I'm picking it up for the splash page of the Winchester mansion alone. Read Full Review

  • 7.0
    Pop Culture Uncovered - Adam Frey Apr 13, 2016

    It's not off to a bad start, but as withThe Shadow Glass,House of Penance doesn't do the greatest job selling itself at the outset. The story may be of interest to readers who want to try a weird psychological drama with historical roots. Less discriminating readers may want to wait for the eventual trade paperback release to see how the first chapter fits into the larger whole. Read Full Review

  • 6.5
    AIPT - Nick Nafpliotis Apr 13, 2016

    House of Penance #1 may have sacrificed too much narrative to establish its mood, but it was still more than good enough to warrant a return visit. Read Full Review

  • 6.5
    Comicosity - Amy Ziegfeld Apr 13, 2016

    There is a lot of promise here. The art is striking and unique, unlike anything else on the shelves today, and I'm genuinely curious to see where the story goes. The atmosphere is macabre and foreboding and gives a real sense of the weirdness of the Mystery House and its eccentric owner. That said, this issue's problems can't be overlooked. The writing gets lazy in unfortunate ways, and that really hurts the story. Moreover, its treatment of American Indians is difficult to excuse. It's got a lot going for it, but be cognizant of its issues before diving in. Read Full Review

  • 6.0
    Comics: The Gathering - Forrest Hollingsworth Apr 14, 2016

    It’s a beautiful, weird, first issue that I liked a lot but is desperately trying to outpace readers who may not be familiar with what’s going on here. Fans of horror, graphic and psychological will find a lot to like here but others might not. Read Full Review

  • 6.0
    Comic Bastards - Steven Phillips Mar 23, 2016

    By the end, House of Penance carries you through your confusion with hideous sights. I can't say I'm looking forward to where the story goes. It is a really unpleasant experience of ugly people and ugly things happening in a world that barely seems to hold itself together. I'm interested, but not enough to feel driven to endure more of this flavor of horror. Read Full Review

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