This sixth volume of "House of Mystery", Vertigo's ongoing quasi-anthology series, ranks with the fourth volume as the best in the series, and is especially refreshing as it follows on the heels of the fifth volume, which I considered to have been the weakest by far. The series' ongoing plot is in some respects still not going anywhere fast, but it is nonetheless a very lively installment, and the series actually acknowledges at one point that its central mystery remains extremely vague (Fig, our lead character, is not pleased at the constant mysterious conversation of the people she encounters. This trade paperback collects issues 26 to 30 of the ongoing series. Spoilers follow.
By this point in the series, there are quite a few plots on the move, which allows this volume to be very lively, even if, in the grand scheme of things, there isn't a huge amount of plot advancement. In the main story, Fig and her cohorts find themselves drafted into a war between the fairies of Summerland and an invading army that has some tie to the Conception, the series' overall main villains. The Summerland fairies are a callback to one of my favourite anthology stories from the series, featuring the return of Daphne and her pet snow leopard. There are leadership quarrels among the goblins. Fig's former imaginary friend is out looking for her. Fig's father and ghosts of her brother and grandfather are up to no good. And some of the main cast travels back in time to retrieve an earlier version of Poet, who was killed some issues earlier. The short stories that were once completely unrelated to the main action are by now all extensions of it, including a haunting backstory for Poet and an extremely amusing origin story for a new side character (as well as a very macabre fairy tale for the goblins).
If that plot summary sounds crowded and the various strands a little disconnected, that would be fair. Nevertheless, it's exceptionally fun to read, and Matthew Sturges' writing is very strong (Sturges has by now completely taken over responsibility for the series from co-creator Bill Willingham, who isn't even listed on the trade paperback's spine anymore). Regular artist Luca Rossi continues to give the series a distinct and consistent look, supplemented by various new artists.
A good series, though one hopes that there'll be more real plot advancement in the next volume.