–WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD–
Sarah Winchester is a widow whose husband and child have left her. While trying to deal with the pain and anguish of her loss, Sarah dedicated her life to building upon her mansion, always ordering construction work to take place. She had doors open to walls, staircases lead to nowhere, etc.
In this horrific conclusion to the miniseries, the spirits trapped in Sarah’s walls are out for revenge. She has no choice but to face them, head on. In doing so, the house collapses on her. Warren Peck pulls her out, safe and sound. After the two share a kiss, Sarah sheds a tear and is reunited with her family once again. As for the guns that Sarah collected, they’re off into another’s hands…
I am beyond excited about this conclusion. Writer Peter J. Tomasi starts the issue right in the middle of the action. The evil spirits are bringing Sarah’s house down, and she runs straight into it, despite Warren’s warning her not to do so. Already, the sense of urgency is strong. Tomasi keeps it up the entire issue, and even the end doesn’t let up. This is one of the eeriest comic series I’ve ever read. From slow and creepy pacing to content overall, this is a series for the truest and most avid horror fans.
The creative team provides a very dramatic yet graceful characterization of Sarah. As she is walking into the rubble of her house that once stood, it almost looks as if she is floating into her bedroom to be with the clothes that she keeps of her loved ones. Artist Ian Bertram puts this same scary quality in the entire issue. There are two splash pages of only the falling foundation and spirits crawling throughout it. I doubt two of these were necessary, but it certainly does help emphasize the fact that Sarah’s world is literally falling apart. The art style is a bit abstract and dark, which is 100% appropriate for this series. The extraneous line work and heavy shadowing benefit the tone of this story more than I can say.
This miniseries has been quite a ride. Watching Sarah through this lengthened mental breakdown is both sad and satisfying, now that she is finally with her family. I’ve thought of a lot of different concepts while reading this series. Mental illness, loss of a loved one, being haunted by your past, paranormal encounters, gun control, and so much more. Tomasi and Bertram have orchestrated nothing short of a masterpiece in House of Penance—a thought-provoking and deeply disturbing masterpiece.
Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Illustrated by: Ian Bertram