House of Whispers #9 – Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters, Writers; Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Artist; John Rauch, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: As House of Whispers enters its second arc, it’s taken its narrative of Gods-meet-people from the small scale of Earth to the biggest scale imaginable, as Mistress Erzulie and her band of allies face off with the God of stories, Anansi, in the literal spider’s web.
When we last left off, Anansi had challenged Erzulie to a game of stories for the fate of her husband (who is currently a boat, in a suitably absurd twist for this series). We’re thrown into that from the start, as Erzulie’s turn involves a tale of her teaming up with Mazikeen from the Lucifer series to escape a massive dragon with the help of an army of piranha demons. The visuals are great, the teeth-clenched teamwork between the two is fun, but I think this would have been a lot more readable if it wasn’t for Mazikeen’s incredibly pronounced speech impediment due to her disfigurement – I was left trying to sound out her dialogue at points.
Anansi is unimpressed with the story, though, because it’s a thing of the past. He wants stories that are alive, and so begins a dark tug of war between the two powerful beings over the fate of young Habibi, one of the girls who has been enmeshed with the Gods since the first issue.
First Anansi uses Habibi’s belief that she’s connected to a God to nearly make her break her neck in a playground stunt, then he pulls her into a quest for her sister’s safety that takes her into dangerous quarters. The use of a little girl as a pawn in this game is disturbing, and the battle of wills that erupts between Anansi and Erzulie is suitably dramatic. I don’t know if this issue is quite as good as the last, with its trio of stories illustrated by different guest artists, but it’s delivering a compelling chapter in one of the most ambitious books in the Sandman Universe line.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.