House of Secrets
Introduction to House of Secrets
In 1956, DC launched a bi-monthly sister title to House of Mystery called House of Secrets, trading in much the same material, a horror book that frightened no one. It didn’t have much of an impact or influence on the hobby with the exception of the first appearance of Eclipso in House of Secrets #61 and the first Swamp Thing in House of Secrets #92. The title bowed out in 1978, having published 154 issues. The House of Secrets title was revived again for a short run in the 1990s by sister imprint Vertigo and again in 2001.
House of Secrets #92 appeared in the summer of 1971. Published by DC Comics, that issue is regarded as a milestone in the history of horror comics. It introduced the single most popular swamp monster-hero of all time: Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing was co-created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson, whose art graces the cover of House of Secrets #92. On the cover, Swamp Thing appears in the background in a menacing stance. Swamp Thing is actually one of comics’ most tragic characters, a scientist transformed by a freak accident who then gains supernatural ability over flora, but must seek a way to convey his lasting love for a woman unfamiliar with his inhuman state.
As a horror comics guru, Wrightson’s career is envied by many of his peers and admired by scores of fans. His ambitious 1970s graphic retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is regarded as his masterpiece, but he has many feathers in his cap, including stories that feature Batman and Spider-Man, as well as the early run of Swamp Thing, which was spun off from House of Secrets #92. More recently the artist returned to his Frankenstein roots to collaborate with writer Steve Niles on Frankenstein Alive, Alive! Writer Len Wein is likewise a career comics icon. As a professional writer and editor for over four decades, Wein has contributed to Batman, Green Lantern, X-Men, and many other titles. He is an inductee in the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.
Brief History of House of Secrets
House of Secrets experienced three stops and starts between 1956 and 2001. The highlight for many HoS collectors from the early days is finding the Jack Kirby issues. Jack broke away from Joe Simon and in 1957-59 did freelance work for DC and Harvey before committing completely to Marvel. Mark Merlin (House of Secrets #23) and Eclipso (House of Secrets #61) also debut during the early run. Other noted artists during this period include Alex Toth, Rubin Moreira, Mort Meskin, and Bernard Baily.
Its second and most popular run beginning with House of Secrets #81 - of which issue #92 was a part - saw it revamped as an edgier horror anthology to rival the likes of Warren Publishing’s Creepy and Eerie. Its occult-focused stories were introduced by a caretaker host, Abel. (Abel was the counterpart of his predecessor Cain, the host of another DC horror anthology called House of Mystery.) That incarnation lasted from 1969 to 1978. Wrightson’s covers and interior artwork on the two companion titles are the prime reasons for their collector appeal. While issues of House of Secrets are obtainable, key issues like House of Secrets #92 grow scarce as copies in Very Fine (8.0) or better condition become archived in the collections of personal collectors. Besides Wrightson, other young guns of the day making their mark included Michael Wm. Kaluta, Neal Adams, and Jeff Jones.
Characters from House of Secrets
As an anthology title, there are not many reoccurring characters. Mark Merlin, along with his lovely assistant Elsa begin tackling supernatural menaces in House of Secrets #23 and do so until #80. Eclipso begins his successful run in House of Secrets #61 and finishes out the first run as well. The most famous resident of the House of Secrets, Swamp Thing, makes only one appearance and that’s in House of Secrets #92. The last attempt by DC to create a continuing character comes with Patchwork Man in House of Secrets #140 with a solo story after his debut in Swamp Thing #3.
Plot Summary for House of Secrets #92
Swamp Thing, the lead story, is only 8 pages in length and was never intended to be an on-going series. Beginning with the cover, Louise Jones (Jeff Jones’ wife, later Louise Simonson) poses for the cover with a hulking monster looming in the doorway as she bushes her hair preparing for bed. We open the book and once again our host Abel is being taunted by his brother Cain, the House of Mystery host, inviting us to read on.
Our story begins as we follow a lumbering Swamp Thing making his way toward a house on the hill. Once again, he walks the same well-worn trail to look in on his beloved Linda. There we find Damian Ridge proposing a toast to celebrate the six-month mark of their marriage. But Linda can only think of poor Alex Olsen, her first husband and their brief one-year marriage, and his sudden death when an explosion ripped through the lab. His partner Damian had rushed in but soon reported back to Linda not to go in there, there is nothing of Alex to see. Linda asks to be excused and Damian accedes. Damian turns his thoughts to the past, recalling how Alex stepped in and swept Linda off her feet even though Alex had been aware of how he felt about her. Feigning continued friendship with the two, Damian had resumed his work with the young scientist. Eventually, he could no longer fester in silence and sabotaged Alex’s lab to create a huge explosion. Damian congratulated himself on having already killed Alex before the explosion and burying him in the swamp. Naturally, Linda would turn to him for comfort. But now she was growing cold to his touch. Damian knew it would not be long and she would seek to end the relationship. He decides to move first. As he volunteers to rub Linda’s shoulder to ease her chill, the observant Swamp Thing spies the hypodermic needle in Damian’s hand. Crashing through the large picture window, he is surprised at how quickly he crosses the room to defend Linda and chokes the life out of Damian. However, as Swamp Thing turns to comfort Linda all he sees is the terror in her eyes. Turning, he leaves to return to the only comfort he can know these days, his awaiting swamp.
Berni Wrightson provides the cover, title page, and story art. Len Wein is his collaborator. Three more nice little horrors stories fill out the book. It’s a great issue even if Swamp Thing hadn’t been slightly revised to go on to his own series.
How much is House of Secrets #92 worth?
It is valued in the 2019 Overstreet Comic Price Guide at $3,200. The issue ranks #4 on Overstreet’s Top 25 Bronze Age Comics list.
What is the most expensive House of Secrets sold at auction?
A NM/MT copy of House of Secrets #92 in CGC 9.8 auctioned in June 2015 for $14,000. House of Secrets #92 outperforms all other issues by a wide margin.
What House of Secrets issues are expensive?
House of Secret #1 Value
House of Secret #1 in CGC 8.5 sold for $4,063 in 2016.
House of Secrets #61 Value
The 1st appearance of Eclipso in House of Secrets #61 in CGC 9.0 comes in at $1,792.50 in 2016.
House of Mystery #104 Value
Selling in 2019, the Murphy Anderson File Copy of House of Secrets #104 grabbed our attention when it sold for $1,440 with a certified grade of 9.8.
House of Secrets #49 Value
The CGC 9.6 Savannah Pedigree House of Secrets #49 sold for $1,314.50 back in 2011.
House of Secrets #92 Cover Art
The cover art for House of Secrets #92 is done by Berni Wrightson. Its whereabouts are unknown. A color study was created by Wrightson and sent to the colorist (Jack Adler) as a reference. In an interview, Berni Wrightson described this piece as “It’s better than a color guide... it’s totally an original piece.” This piece sold in 2019 for $27,600.
Other valuable House of Secrets art value
We may never know where the cover to House of Secrets #92 is but the 8-page story sold way back in 2002 for $31,500. The art was done by none other than the Master of the Macabre himself, Berni Wrightson. Neal Adams picks up the next big ticket with his rendition of the cover to House of Secrets #86. Mort Meskin and George Roussos top the first HoS run with their cover to House of Secret #56 selling for 7,767.50 in 2017 at Heritage Auctions.
How rare is House of Secrets #92?
With over 2,000 copies certified, like most Bronze Age comics, it is not particularly hard to find.
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