Image’s new series 8house has changed its focus three times in four issues, its most recent release introducing yet another new vision of the setting. New characters, new lands, and new creators you never knew you’ve always loved.
Frankly, I’m still trying to get a grip on what this series is about. Brandon Graham started out with gender-bending high fantasy and turned it into sci fi space clones with interplanetary mental bonds. Now issue 4 is out with a totally different creative team. It explores two completely new houses (I guess there are eight?). Houses that sit perfectly between the sorcery and the science. A curse clan and their ancient enemies, the Un-Tied, who dwell across the bay.
New creative team is kind of a misnomer. 8house has been taken over by Fil Barlow and Helen Maier, animators returning to comics after nearly thirty years in Hollywood leaving them bankrupt. Yorris Part 1 was literally made with old art supplies because that’s all they had, leftovers from their old career. Barlow and Maier have been working on cartoons since the mid-80s. Alf. C.O.P.S. Captain N. Gen 13. Extreme Ghostbusters. Godzilla. Starship Troopers. Tutenstein. 8house is a chance for these folks to take the stuff they liked doing the most in their myriad projects and refocus them in original, creator-owned content.
So. The new story follows Yorris, the only little girl not brainwashed by the clan war between the 7th and 8th houses. The curse clan’s ancient technology focuses a secret hate ritual into a psychic plague. An invisible monster who breathes madness is summoned and poisons their rivals across the water. Only this time, a strange messenger comes to kill the demon in the middle of the ritual. And ends up having a cryptic conversation with the only person who can see her. Yorris.
Naturally, Yorris is institutionalized for disrupting the hate ceremony.
The hook of the series aside from extremely unique world-building and the veteran’s ease with which the plot is presented is Barlow and Maier’s creature creation. Years of Ghostbusters and Startship Troopers and other horror-for-kids stuff has made the two creators monster pros. The hate beast, Yorris’ psychic guard dog (Which looks just like Stitch. And a wiener dog. And a lizard.), the bug-looking living vehicles ridden by 7th house expats. They are swirly and textural, psychedelic and compelling.
Dat world-building doe. The costumes! The devices! Rich but easy to follow spirit-tied-to-tech systems. 8house’s signature is dropping you into a fully formed story already in progress, and this new plot is no different. If anything, it is the most effective in the series so far. The clearest in its stakes. Not only full of cool ideas, but emotionally effecting. We the readers are the only people who can see what poor Yorris sees (well, us and the spirit assassin). The psychic “mindforms” that come from the ancient rituals and plague the members of the 8th house. Her sedation and hospitalization is doubly vile because we know she’s right. And no one believes her- it’s scary and sad.
And then there’s the mysterious charge from spirit assassin that she has great work to come. Where is this going? I don’t know, I just know they better give it time to go somewhere before switching to another house or there will be hell to pay. Just kidding! I will gladly accept more upside-down space twin adventures. Or gender-bending body-switching sorcery. Or anything, really. This series has more than proved its mettle.