Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Christofer Emgård
Artwork: Thomás Aira
Letters: Mauro Mantella
Release Date: 2nd January 2019
Vance and her team have run out of options. Having been forced off the road they must resume their march to the Forbidden Village which guards the mountain pass. With their unwilling and terrified guide leading the way, they must face the horrors of the forest once more in the hope of reaching safety. but will all of them reach the village alive?
This is my first review of 2019 and I’m trying really hard not to gush uncontrollably over the first title I’ve picked up. Unfortunately, The Whispering Dark really is just a superbly written piece of Lovecraftian fiction that, for me, has gone from strength to strength each issue. And in this latest chapter, writer Christofer Emgård has stepped up the tension and claustrophobic dread to an entirely new level.
There are very obvious themes that can only be compared to this series’ namesake, Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness, as well as At the Mountains of Madness, but Emgård does such a beautiful job of taking these elements and blending them into his own story that you never feel you’re just reading a rewrite of an existing story.
It’s also easy, due to this being so firmly in the horror genre, to forget that this is also a war story. We still don’t know what war or why it’s being fought but there is a very real threat from a physical enemy alongside the horrors that assault our heroes at every turn. That’s actually one of the reasons I love this series, the combination of a supernatural force slowly pursuing Vance and her team, creeping in at the edges to break their sanity, along with an almost Heart of Darkness or Colonel Kurtz’ levels of insane enemy that will stop at nothing, even the use of nuclear weapons, to kill our band of Rangers.
Thomás Aira’s artwork has also gone from strength to strength in the last couple of issues, and I’m desperately trying not to repeat myself but he takes the story and really brings to life the tension and dread and horror that Emgård is weaving. I’m a sucker for really well done scenery and architecture and whilst the rest of the artwork in this series is excellent, and the action scenes are superbly executed, I think it really shines in the rendering of the physical world our characters inhabit.
Aira has managed to create a stunningly detailed world of forests and mountains that should engender feelings of wide open spaces and beauty but always manage to come across as claustrophobic and sinister.The Forbidden Village Aira gives us is incredible, and the Church is both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. The pan out from it pressed up against the mountainside with the blood trails leading away from (towards?) it is very reminiscent of F. Paul Wilson’s The Keep, and as for what’s beyond the Church…
It’s safe to say that I’m a massive fan of this series and that if it continues as strongly as it has started then it’s definitely going to be a title to watch out for in 2019. I sincerely hope that Emgård and Aira continue to bring us this same level of exceptional quality and I’m already desperate to get my hands on the next issue.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek