Wednesday, January 16, 2019

House of Whispers #5 Review and **SPOILERS**

Shock the Pana
Written By: Nalo Hopkinson and Dan Watters 
Illustrated By: Dominike “DOMO” Stanton and Aneke 
Colors By: John Rauch 
Letters By: Deron Bennett 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: January 16, 2019


I went into this series, knowing it contained specifics about Creole culture and lore, without doing research. On purpose. I felt that I shouldn’t have to learn about a new religion just to enjoy a comic book, everything I need should be within the story. So how has that been going? You can find out in my review of House of Whispers #5, which is below for your perusal.

Shakpana, still in the body of an unwilling participant, menaces Habibi and Lumi in search of his pestilence book. They somehow understand this and run out of the house, leaving their father in the shower—though Habibi thinks Shakpana won’t mess with him since he wants his tome. They run over to Latoya and Maggie’s apartment, where Latoya has introduced her girlfriend to Miss Turtle, who’s come from the Dreaming with a dire warning. Maggie is still pissed off at Latoya for passing on her Cotard’s Delusion, which Toya claims she didn’t—but a look at the news shows that this delusion is spreading, and people are being reckless and committing suicide to be in accord with the feeling that they’re dead. At this, Latoya is pretty shocked and ashamed—though Miss Turtle says Shakpana is to blame, not Toya. In a roundabout way, perhaps…but Latoya is still the one touching people and removing their souls to the Dreaming.

Speaking of which, Uncle Monday and Madame Datoya are hanging around, wondering what’s going on topside. They regard the souls gathering around the rift, and suggest that it’s good that they’ll be there whenever whatever is in the rift emerges. Still, they need to get the heck out of the Dreaming, and probably deal with Shakpana as well. 

After looking on a “sexual awakening dream” where a guy plays cards with a sword-wielding cat, some of Madame Datoya’s other personalities—other Ezrulies?—start manifesting, and she becomes the vengeful Ezrulie Red-Eye. This is a stern, slender woman with an ornate crown on her head and, well, red eyes. Uncle Monday decides that they can’t fart around waiting for Miss Turtle and Shakpana to pull their fingers out; he will go to Lucien’s library and find a book that will get them back to the land of the waking…or at least to that original, ethereal place that Madame Ezrulie inhabited. 

When Bibi and Lumi show up to Maggie and Latoya’s apartment, they’re all excited about what’s happened, then they’re followed in by their father…wearing only a towel. He grabs the book from his daughter and asks for an explanation, but they turn it around and ask why he’s rubbing his eyes continually—and why he’s only in a towel? 

Why, it’s because Shakpana has taken over dad’s body, and now he’s in possession of his lethal book! Shakpana unleashes some pestilence, and when it falls on Miss Turtle her human form starts to slough off—she’s becoming a giant turtle! She swallows all the girls and jumps out of the window, flying along and growing in size as she goes. Miss Turtle dives into the water, causing a giant wave, as observed by Madame Ezrulie’s Napoleon-garbed husband. 

He holds back the wave…somehow, but is then visited by Shakpana, who uses his power to trap Napoleon husband in the body of the willing supplicant that’s housing him! Oh no! This is a problem…I think. As Shakpana’s power grows, the souls in the Dreaming begin humming ominously, and when Miss Turtle burps the girls onto an island off Louisana’s shore, Habibi produces some pages torn from Shakpana’s book, which will probably save the day. Uh, then all of a sudden, we’re told that Napoleon husband and Shakpana fell through a rift, which is probably the rift being guarded by the wayward souls. 

And that last bit…it seemed to come out of nowhere. I was following the story along okay, taking much of it at face value and assuming it was all in accord with the religious culture of New Orleans, but then the bad guy and another interested party are kind of taken off the playing field and I wonder if there are any stakes to the living world at all. Like, this threatens the Dreaming, but so what? 

Over in The Dreaming comic book, this realm is a total shambles anyway. I still like this book okay, but it’s at the expense of understanding every moment. You have to sort of shrug and say “okay” when stuff like a woman turning into Gamera happens, otherwise, you’ll never get to the end of the story. Which, I am hoping, happens next issue.

Bits and Pieces:

Things are brought to a scary crescendo...and sort of summarily dismissed on the last page. Maybe. This book is tough to follow without a working knowledge of Creole culture, but I'm proving it not impossible. Whether it is most rewarding to read this way, I can't say.


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