The Whispering Dark #1
Writer: Christofer Emgård
Artist: Tomás Aira
Letterer: Mauro Mantella
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Review by Michael Farris, Jr.
The Whispering Dark #1 introduces us to Hannah Vance, an officer in the army that has found herself shot down behind enemy lines with a handful of other survivors from her rescue mission. She and her team must find a way back to base, but the quickest route is through the worst of enemy territory. As the ranking officer, she must make decisions that increasingly make her uncomfortable as a lot of her actions come in direct conflict with the faith that she has learned from her father back home.
By the time I was done reading this book, I was left with mixed feelings. There were certainly aspects of the book that gave me pause about outright recommending it. For one thing, a lot of the characters feel dangerously close to being cardboard cutout versions of other fictional characters we’ve seen in various other forms.
Every good comic book needs an amount of mystery that makes the reader ask questions and follow up with subsequent issues, but I left with the notion that we’re a little bit too in the dark, and there’s not at least a little bit of light to show us where to go next. What was with the seemingly giant nuke that went off? Who is the enemy in this conflict? It seemed like with the nuke, the question was forgotten a couple pages later, and as far as the setting, I feel like that should be fleshed out a little bit.
I also had the impression that this would be a horror book, and while there are definitely elements of horror, I recall only one panel where we actually see any kind of supernatural events taking place. That’s not to say the horror in this book is a weakness. I thoroughly enjoyed the inner monologue of Hannah Vance, and there’s a lot of psychological horror packed into that.
I’m happy that, thus far, her religious beliefs are treated with an amount of respect, and that background causes a lot of internal conflict within her. Am I doing the wrong thing for taking these stimulant pills? How can I go against everything I believe and order my squad to kill these men? A lot of the horror that exists within this comic so far is the duality that is the human psyche and whether or not we go along with the darkness that is part of our nature.
The artwork has a modern feel to it in that it looks very much like someone digitally painted these scenes, but it works really well. The purplish-grey tones really creates a disturbing, lonely-but-watched feel that you might get walking through the woods at night while letting your imagination take you places you’d rather it not go.
Verdict: Wait and see.
I really did enjoy the psychological horror and conflict that took place in The Whispering Dark #1, but there were enough hiccups that make me a little hesitant to recommend you picking this up. This is a four-part series, so the next issue will definitely be do-or-die. Pick it up if you like taking risks and discovering new stories, but if you’re a cautious buyer, you might want to wait another issue.