Whisper Wilds #1
Writer: Brent Nelson
Artist: Emanuele Arnaldi
A review by Kylee Sills
I have so much respect and appreciation for anyone willing to put the blood, sweat, tears, and effort into self-publishing comics. Whisper Wilds #1 may be one of the most lovingly crafted, gorgeously created indie comics I’ve gotten my hands on. The first issue, of six planned, serves as an introduction to an alternate history and two best friends.
To keep Australia Whisper free during World War II, Rosalind Harney and Dirawong have teamed up. They want to ensure that the inter-dimensional gateways between worlds remain closed. Whispers are the title of the gateways themselves and stepping through one to ensure closure triggers personal memories. Rosalind is an Australian sharpshooter, while Dirawong is a highly intelligent reptilian creature with a penchant for groan-worthy puns. If you watch the Kickstarter video, Brent Nelson reveals another important tidbit about Rosalind that I never could have guessed. Whether avoid the video spoiler or not, you’ll find out once you read the first issue. The revelation adds an interesting layer to the story and to the stakes that the duo gamble with daily.
Emanuele Arnaldi was not only the artist for the book, but did the coloring and lettering as well. Set in Australia during World War II, the Giba wastes, and inter-dimensional gateways, I couldn’t pick a favorite setting. The artwork is vibrant and portrays a sense of motion that makes the action scenes jump off of the page. The unique cast of characters, friends, foe and otherwise, are so emotive that you can’t help but feel an instant connection. No two characters look exactly alike.
Character expressions are rendered by Arnaldi so perfectly that I felt the same skepticism, anger, fear, and amusement as Rosalind while reading. For every terrible pun from Dirawong, I saw my own expression mirrored in Rosalind’s. And be sure to keep an eye out for fun onomatopoeia like “TCHACK” and “FRUSH.” Or my personal favorite, “SKONK.”
Of course the world and Arnaldi’s art wouldn’t exist without writer Brent Nelson, who crafted the larger story being touched upon in Whisper Wilds #1. I’ll admit that my American slang did not help me figure out whether Rosalind was using Australian or Giba Wastes slang herself, but I enjoyed it immensely either way. The banter between Rosalind and Dirawong flows easily and speaks of a long history of friendship, making it easy to connect to them.
Rosalind and Dirawong tackle a Whisper in the first issue, providing for the action, but it is the character moments that really make the story shine. Nelson does a wonderful job of endearing them both to readers as fully realized characters with quirks, passions, and professionalism in spades. This wasn’t their first tangle with a Whisper, though the circumstances did feel a bit… off. With that curious seed planted, I can’t help but have questions that I immediately want answered with more issues!
Buy It! The already fully-funded Kickstarter ends on November 22, 2017 and the lowest tier reward provides you with a digital copy and the Kickstarter exclusive digital art book. The characters are distinctive and immediately relatable (you’ll want that art book!). Add in the intriguing plot that’s only beginning to ramp up and this is a new story not to be missed!