House of Whispers #18 – Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters, Writer; Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Artist; Zac Atkinson, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: House of Whispers has been one of the most compelling of the Sandman Universe titles despite not featuring any well-established characters despite one villain, because it has a deft hand with fusing the mundane and the magical and infusing supernatural goings-on with brutal real-world issues. That’s where House of Whispers #18 gets its strength, grounded in the tale of two undocumented teenagers who find a connection as the crimes that defined their lives are exposed.
Abused adoptee Poquito has been the focus of this series for a few issues, and last issue introduced paraplegic trans boy Rafe, who got his disability due to medical neglect while in custody. They found each other last issue, and their connection is growing fast, but she has a deadly secret that threatens to unleash her rage on the world. The segments with these two kids are almost heartwarming – until you remember that she’s literally got a monster inside of her.
Obviously, most of these details are ripped from the headlines, including the kidnapping of undocumented children to be adopted by citizen families. Given that context, it’s hard not to root for the shadow being and her horrible bull-monster.
Against the backdrop of Poquito confronting her abusive family, we get a number of smaller subplots. Mysterious ghost ships are making their way around the world, causing sightings from as far away as India and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Erzulie is continuing her quest to find her husband Agwe again, and that’s brought her to the House of Watchers – ruled by the Corinthian until a horrible fate befell him. She’s left to put one of the world’s biggest monsters back together in the hope that he’ll help her, and this is some of the best visual styling of the issue. It’s one of the denser books in the line, and the plots are all long-game, but it’s a regularly compelling read.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.