An advance review of the new series by Joshua Luna.
Credits & Solicit Info:
story JOSHUA LUNA
art & cover JOSHUA LUNA
32 PAGES / FC / T+
A mentally troubled man is suddenly empowered with the ability to leave his physical body in "ghost" form and manipulate people in strange and disturbing ways. With this incredible power, will he control his demons...or discover even more?
JOSHUA LUNA of the Luna Brothers (ULTRA, GIRLS, THE SWORD) makes a solo debut with a dark, supernatural thriller that questions free will and explores the obsessions, addictions and urges we all have and may not have control of at all.
As far as first impressions go, the cover for Whispers #1 is at the very least eye-catching. The woman looks terrified, and upon closer inspection you notice that the man hidden in the shadows right over her shoulder is transparent. His head is tilted toward her like he's whispering. Appropriate. Chilling. Intriguing. What is he whispering? Why is he transparent? Sadly, upon finishing Whispers #1 and gazing at the cover, readers will probably experience that quiet disappointment akin to opening a white elephant gift at a holiday party and find a Christmas Big Mouth Billy Bass. Amusement mixed with a bit of shame for being so easily deceived. Looking at the cover one would think that the story would have darker content, suspense, terror or even a ghost. It's misleading, but if you look past that you'll see a plot that does have a slight glimmer of hope.
The story revolves around Sam, a young man who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He's standing outside a coffee shop trying to work up the nerve to open the door. At this point you get a good look into Sam's mind, how it works and how he perceives the world around him: the world is one giant chaotic threat to his well-being. The way he talks about the door handle is similar to how someone talks about a rabid animal, unpredictable and waiting for a chance to attack. He finally lucks out and enters behind a couple going in and it's revealed why he's there braving such conditions. His friend and recent ex-girlfriend, Lily, is upset because her father was injured by a drunk driver and has gathered some of her friends for moral support.
Already with Lily are two of her friends, Rico and Blake. From this scene we quickly learn a lot about the dynamics of this group. From the moment you meet Rico you immediately sense that the only thing he's missing is a giant red siren screaming "Douchebag alert!" right above him. His character is literally drawn with his nose up above everyone else for most of his panels. Rico obviously does not like Sam, so they get off to a rocky start that ends, despite a scolding from Lily, in an argument. Prior to the blow-up, there is a strong juxtaposition between Sam's neurotic inner turmoil and a rather detached public demeanor with just a slight annoyance for Rico showing in his inner dialogue. It's not clear by the end if it's just the presence of Lily or his normal demeanor around people, but his inner dialogue gradually creates cracks in the marble exterior he wears, at the very least around Rico.
When everyone is listening to Lily, Sam steals the conversation to reveal his newfound ability. Sam found out the previous evening that when he is asleep he can travel to people he knows and observe them. The aforementioned fight is instigated by Rico becoming angry with Sam for making the meeting about him. This is meant as a place where we're expected to feel sorry for Sam, he did mean well, but Rico does have a point even if he did overreact. Sam is asked to leave, and the ensuing fight drives Sam to reveal a discovery from his nighttime travels that he immediately regrets. However, he doesn't regret getting angry and exposing Rico's secret - he regrets letting Rico distract him so that he touches the door handle on the way out.
After the stressful meeting and the contamination from the door handle, Sam ritualistically washes his hands and recounts the day and his regrets. Exhausted, he finds himself traveling again that night and further exploring his new ability. When observing people this time he discovers that he can hear their thoughts, and even subconsciously influence the decisions of people he knows. He finds himself following his mother and an old girlfriend before he is drawn to Lily's door looking for answers to his questions about their relationship.
Overall the story was interesting, a blend of aspects from Insidious, a stereotypical loner character and an episode of MTV's True Life: I have OCD. The protagonist was likeable enough and the story was told in an interesting way involving revealing contrasts between internal and external dialogue. The characters were developed quickly through lightning speed exposition, which made Sam seem bipolar where others were too one-dimensional. Sam went from terrified to nervous, self-absorbed to pathetic, then enraged to frantic and finally to remorseful all within what seems like an hour. It was an entertaining read, with an interesting and complex character that is moving in a clear direction.
The artwork on the cover is much darker and more sinister looking than the rest of the comic book. Sam as he is depicted on the cover is almost unrecognizable in the narrative, and he even changes dramatically when he gets emotional. The overall artwork is consistent in tone and gets the emotions across quickly in the panel but otherwise isn't remarkable.
Only time will tell if Whispers it will be just another unrequited love story made more intense through a superpower, or if the story unfolds over the initial subsequent volumes to be something unexpected and darker. Only time will tell, and the first volume may just be interesting enough to buy itself some more time. I'll definitely be picking up the second issue, at least just to satisfy my own curiosity.
Review by: Sarah Sed, Outhouse Contributor