Review: The Highest House #1

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
March 6th, 2018

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Review: The Highest House #1
Comics
0
Price:
Strong Foundations

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On March 6, 2018
Last modified:March 6, 2018

Summary:

High drama and mysterious goings on form the basis for this new comic from IDW. An exceptional start for The Highest House which promises a wealth of characters and adventures all presented in enchantingly illustrated surroundings.

Price:
Strong Foundations

Reviewed by:
Rating:

4
On March 6, 2018
Last modified:March 6, 2018

Summary:

High drama and mysterious goings on form the basis for this new comic from IDW. An exceptional start for The Highest House which promises a wealth of characters and adventures all presented in enchantingly illustrated surroundings.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Bringing a new political fantasy drama to the shelves, IDW Publishing release Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ The Highest House this week. Our Contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a look at the first issue to see how good the foundations are.

Mike Carey and Peter Gross are back working with each other and after the successful The Unwritten this can only bode good things. The Highest House is a fantasy drama following the journey of an unwanted child as he is sold into a rich clan house as a slave.

Synopsis

Cael Extat, Steward to Clan Aldercrest, the most respected clan in the land, is travelling the towns, buying up the unwanted and the surplus to be slaves in The Highest House, home to the Aldercrest.

One such offering, a young boy called Moth, catches Extat’s eye and becomes the last purchase of the trip.

And so begins Moths journey to the home of the Aldercrest. Along the way he witness’ things he can only explain as magic and is treated almost kindly by the slave buyer.

Story continues below

Moth’s new life is just beginning and there are friends, and enemies, to be made along the way.

Credit: IDW Publishing

Analysis

Carey spends this first issue introducing this new world through the journey of Moth, the hero, as he transitions from humble beginnings to The Highest House of the title. The element that is most notable is that it is all about contrasts. From the very beginning the reader is shown the obvious difference between Extat, in his luxurious carriage, and the Inn where he sets up stall. The Inn Keeper couldn’t be any more different to Extat; Carey and Moss use visual images and speech to illustrate this fact throughout the entire opening. The Inn keeper is slow and unkempt. Gross draws him with slouched shoulders and a permanent sulk. Despite his weight, he always seems to be smaller than the elegant visitors to his establishment.

Extat on the other hand is immaculately presented, with an air of authority and a no nonsense attitude. As the story unfolds Carey makes the character more likable, expanding his mysteriousness, but initially he’s very aloof and Gross gives him a distance from the other characters; often placing furniture between them or drawing him into separate panels entirely, as if he does not want to share the space with the poor.

This is important because the point it changes is when Moth is introduced to him. Other than Neem, Extat’s manservant, he does not share space with any other character until he is offered Moth for sale. It is as if a wall is broken down. The instant relationship between the two characters strikes a chord with the reader and is the first hook that Carey uses to draw you in. Their interaction is intriguing and you find yourself drawn along on the journey with Moth, experiencing everything with him. As he is introduced to the world outside of his small town, so you, the reader, are experiencing it.

Credit: IDW Publishing

From this point on Moth is the reader’s gateway into the world of The Highest House and what a magnificent world it is. It has elements of Gormenghast about it, with the scale of the building and the house fractions, seemingly in competition with each other. But it isn’t as harsh, more like a Lanister castle than a Stark homestead. Carey introduces a number of characters and concepts all of which provide potential drama for the coming issues. In fact, it’s amazing home much seems to be introduced in this issue. There are elements of history and modern feuding woven in with the characters, their social standing and religious beliefs. As a first issue, you couldn’t want more from a narrative.

The artwork has an earthy tone to it which helps provide the impression of humble people in a poor town. Extat is the outcast in the earlier scenes as expressed with the colouring of his clothes; they are bold and clean. Even the black of his robe stands out in the brown hue which covers everything else. Gross has a very thin pencil line but is able to express a range of emotions with only a few lines.

The Highest House has a subtle charm to it. There are a wealth of characters and ideas waiting to be explored and the creators past record proves that they are able to play the long game. As a first issue this comic sets out everything you need to know while teasing at so much more. The foundations have been firmly laid and are strong enough to hold the highest of houses.

Story continues below

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson, but he does remember to write more about comics on his website comiccutdown.com

The Highest House #1

  • 4

Strong Foundations

High drama and mysterious goings on form the basis for this new comic from IDW. An exceptional start for The Highest House which promises a wealth of characters and adventures all presented in enchantingly illustrated surroundings.

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