Review – House of Whispers #1 (DC Vertigo)

Publisher: DC Vertigo
Writer: Nalo Hopkinson
Art: Dominike Stanton
Colours: John Rauch
Letters: Deron Bennett
Release Date: 12th September 2018

Daniel, Lord of The Realm of Dream and successor to the late Morpheus has vanished, and just as The Dreaming suffered a catastrophe when Morpheus was unexpectedly captured by Roderick Burgess, fractures in the fabric of the realm are starting to appear following the abdication of Daniel.

This time however, things are different. This time the fractures are bleeding into the real world and bringing new and terrifying creatures into our world with it, even the old gods are returning. Lucius and Matthew are going to have their work cut out to find Daniel and save both worlds before the rift tears reality apart.

House of Whispers is one of four new titles that are going to build the new world(s) of The Sandman, reuniting us with characters that have been part of our lives for almost thirty years and introducing new wonderful, beautiful, and terrifying additions to our world.

Issue one brings us the fabulous world of Erzulie Fréda (the voodoo goddess of love and passion) and her Mississippi Riverboat, The House of Dahomey, where the souls of Voodoo worshipers come to dream and have their wishes granted. Here we also find Uncle Monday, a terrifying blend of Baron Samedi and Killer Croc from the Batman comics, (seriously, watch this guy eat a prawn – it’s horrific).

If you don’t know your Seminole Legends, the very short version of the story is that Uncle Monday was an escaped slave who had himself turned into an alligator to escape being killed or recaptured by his masters and now wanders the swamps, occasionally taking human form in order to cast spells both good and bad on the people he encounters.  However, taking one look at this guy I’m hedging my bets by saying that he isn’t going to be giving away bags of money and ponies any time soon.

Issue one also brings back Latoya, her girlfriend Maggie and her sisters Habibi and Lumi who, unintentionally and unknowingly, released Erzulie and Monday in the introductory book to The Sandman Universe. Erzulie and Monday have their eyes on the girls, but they’re not alone. The girls have stumbled across a strange journal and are trying to decipher its contents.  Unfortunately for them it is the Journal of Shakpana, the divinity of smallpox who inflicts insanity and disease on humans. Shakpana’s attempt to reclaim his journal leads to the creation of a singularity that penetrates the Dreaming and forces The House of Dahomey through to rest towering over Cain and Abel’s home, The House of Secrets.

As a lifelong fan of Neil Gaiman and The Sandman I’ve been so excited about the revival of this world and I genuinely couldn’t have asked for a better start than has been seen so far. The Sandman Universe, The Dreaming, and now The House of Whispers have all been practically flawless, with The Books of Magic and a new Lucifer series coming next month.

I’m not aware of any other comics that Nalo Hopkinson has been involved with, but I have read a couple of her novels and particularly enjoyed both Midnight Robber and Brown Girl in the ring. Given the body of work Nalo has amassed as a novelist, it would be hard to think of anyone more suited to bringing the voodoo world of Erzulie Fréda and Uncle Monday to life in this series. The characters are rich and, whilst obviously fantastical, still real enough to touch which is what I think was the heart and soul of the original comics for me.  No matter how fantastic and in some cases psychedelic the characters became, there was always something so real about them that anything seemed possible.

The artwork by Dominike Stanton (Prez, The Big Con Job, Pregnant Bitches of War) is exactly what you’d hope for. It’s as rich, sumptuous and captivating as the characters that Hopkins has created and where it needs to be it is dark and terrifying as well.  However, what really, really sealed the deal for me was that I instantly recognised Irving (and Caine and Abel of course) and that brought back such fond memories of the first few issues of the original series.

John Rauch (The Beauty, Invincible, Wayward) provides the colours and where I was expecting areas to be muddy or washed out he has produced some fantastically vivid and distinct work that makes everything pop off the page.

I have been massively impressed by the revival of The Sandman Universe so far. I think the creative teams behind each title within it have done incredible jobs and I think this will take its place as a worthy addition to the ongoing worlds that Neil Gaiman set out almost 30 years ago.

Rating: 5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek ‏

2 Comments on Review – House of Whispers #1 (DC Vertigo)

  1. Do you ever read past issue #1 on any comic you review? Hey, it’s a 10/10…I’m a life-long fan…can’t wait to read more! Quit posing, dude!

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