Wednesday, September 12, 2018

House of Whispers #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

Purple Monkey Dishwasher

Written By: Nalo Hopkinson 
Illustrated By: Dominike “DOMO” Stanton 
Colors By: John Rauch 
Letters By: Deron Bennett 
Cover By: Sean Andrew Murray 
Variant Cover By: Bill Sienkiewicz 
Edited By: Molly Mahan 
Associate Editor: Amedeo Turturro 
Assistant Editor: Maggie Howell 
Executive Editor: Mark Doyle 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: September 12, 2018


I was a big fan of the House of Mystery and House of Secrets horror anthology comics that DC put out in the 1970s. When they were included in the Dreaming during Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, I thought it was spectacular. So of course, I’m excited for the inclusion of a new House, presumably while the House of Mystery has been commandeered by Justice League Dark or something. Just joking! They’re all staying at Dr. Fate’s for the moment. Let’s find out about this new House, The House of Whispers, in ths first issue that I have reviewed forthwith!

Explain It!

Mistress Ezrulie Dahomey, Cajun Goddess of…something, sits on her throne in her ethereal house, built atop a large river boat, receiving worshippers with information or desires. Or both. Revelers and musicians party incessantly around her, thrilled to be in Ezrulie’s presence. It is a non-stop party. Even Uncle Monday, that Killer Croc-looking dude we met in The Sandman Universe #1 wants to hang out. It’s a real scene, I tell you.
The four ladies we also met in The Sandman Universe #1 (Habibi, Lumi, Maggie and Latoya) are hanging out at home—Latoya is babysitting Habibi and Lumi, actually, and Maggie is hanging out because she’s her girlfriend—looking at a weird book Latoya uncovered. They can’t understand any of it, but for some reason, and in some way, they play a game of Telephone with it. That’s probably the influence of the deity Shakpana, who brings pandemic when he visits the human world, and enters it on spoken rumors and hearsay. And, uh, I guess games of Telephone. Look, it’s stuff beyond our mortal ken, you’re going to have to accept a lot of it at face value.
Back at Ezrulie’s crib, she and Uncle Monday check in on the girls, and find that they’re fooling around with Shakpana’s book—a book that must have gone missing from Dream’s library! To make matters worse, Shakpana is oozing from the television as the girls play their game of Telephone, attempting to enter the world of the living to get his book back (and inadvertently let loose a humanity-culling pandemic.) Shapana tries to take over Latoya’s body for the necessary rites, but she can see and sense him somehow, and casts him back into the television. Shakpana calls out to Ezrulie—she is his aunt, after all—and in trying to save him, the houseboat is loosened from its moors and falls right into the Dreaming, not far from Cain and Abel’s houses! So I’m guess their property value just dropped.
The real meat of this story is what happens in Ezrulie’s domain on a regular basis. There’s lots of scenes of celebrating, of people asking favors, of her interactions with Uncle Monday and other nearby folk. There’s even a couple of pretty funny scenes with Uncle Monday, a brutish monster, and Ezrulie’s rather priggish attendant. This was all cool to see, and cast Ezrulie as more of a self-assured Madame than an egotistical God. There were some storytelling hiccups, as this skipped back and forth between the physical world and Ezrulie’s home—sometimes, in going back to the House of Dahomey, the switch wasn’t obvious for a couple of panels. I liked how this is tying in directly to the damage that’s happening to the Dreaming, but I would be remiss not to mention that the books in Dream’s library are supposed to be unwritten tomes from people’s dreams, not the screeds or journals of demigods. Maybe those are dreamed up, though. It’s a nagging concern, and didn’t take away from a pretty enjoyable comic book that was maybe a little too laid back for its own good.

Bits and Pieces:

The party is always popping at Madame Ezrulie Dahomey's crib, even when there's trouble afoot. Isn't trouble what makes the festivity official? Some spectacular visuals and strong sequentials are marred by some mildly confusing scene changes. A strong first issue whose conclusion won't leave you feeling too anxious. Maybe you'll amble on over to the comic shop and check out #2 anyhow.


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