House of Whispers #20 – Nalo Hopkinson, Dan Watters, Writers; Dominike “Domo” Stanton, Matthew Dow Smith, Artists; Zac Atkinson, Artist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Few series have had more to catch people up on after the hiatus than House of Whispers, because the super-dense Sandman Universe title has always been juggling a dozen plots at the same time. But because it’s so ambitious, House of Whispers #20 doesn’t pick up on any of them immediately.
Instead, it starts on a brilliantly emotional and meditative segment involving an old black war veteran in long-ago England, who was disabled in battle but earned his freedom, only to become a pauper unable to get any help from the government. When he dies, however, he finds himself a fully healed man on a mysterious ship guided by a God, as those who were enslaved in life get a second chance to live free and help others like them. It’s a great concept and introduced a new God to the book’s mythology. It also has relatively little to do with the main plot of House of Whispers #20, which is much more chaotic than this section.
There are so many concepts in the latter half of House of Whispers #20 that it’s almost dizzying, as we see Erzulie continue to fight to rescue Agwe from oblivion and to bring her wayward husbands home. Her new wards, Rafe, and Poquita, continue to struggle with her new powers and growing instability. Ananse, the closest thing this series has to a big bad, returns in a dramatic segment as Aesop and Baron Samedi clash with the twisted and vicious spider God.
Hopkinson and Watters’ script has always been fascinating, but the ambition may be overwhelming it at times. It’s a comic full of ideas, both from the mythology of the universe they’re playing with and from the darkest parts of history. Overall it works, but at times we see a segment that REALLY works and the difference is noticeable when it goes back to other segments that don’t have as much time to breathe.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.