Review: House of Whispers #16
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Nalo Hopkinson and Dan Watters
Artist: “Domo” Stanton
Colors: Zac Atkinson
Letters: AndWorld Design
Reviewer: Tony Farina
House of Whispers #16 finds Madame Erzulie embroiled in divorce proceedings. Her husbands have taken the House of Whispers from her. She can’t seem to figure out why there is broken glass everywhere she goes on earth. Things are bad and she needs a solution.
Meanwhile, human girl Poquita’s life is not good. Her step-mother is abusive and threatens to kill her. She is unhappy and broken. She befriends a cat who, after some milk, molasses and human blood, has turned into a giant dreaming inspired cat/deer/monster thing. Luckily for Poquita, the cat is on her side. They run away from her horrible life and possibly, accidentally, do the Corinthian’s bidding.
House of Whispers #16 once again focuses on Poquita. She showed up in the last issue. She is sympathetic and could be likable. She makes some questionable decisions, but this is the Sandman Universe so questionable decisions are on the menu. Her life is terrible and she is easy to root for. Hopefully, we will stick with her.
The real star of this issue is the world. Our world, the evils of it, and the way we treat each other is on full display. This is the most blatantly political issue of House of Whispers. It is clever of Hopkinson and Watters to try to explain why some things in the world are so terrible by using the events of the past year and a half of Erzulie’s life. Without her to protect us, things have gone sideways. I like it. It is smart.
I am not sure that I think a divorce in the Dreaming is necessary. Gods getting divorced seems kind of absurd. Honestly, Erzulie is way too powerful for pretty much everything that has happened to her this whole series, but this final degradation is a bridge too far in my opinion. She has been the victim of this whole series instead of the hero and it is this issue that really highlighted it. Imagine, if you will, reading a superhero comic where the titular hero was tied to a chair every single issue for a hear and a half and that things happened to that character instead of things happening because of that character. That is this series. I didn’t really realize it until this month. It just doesn’t work.
Once again, I really failed to care about anyone or anything is House of Whispers. This book is leading to something big involving the Corinthian and the other houses in the Dreaming, but getting there has been painfully slow and distracting. The new human character is interesting, but I am not sure how much I should invest as I suspect she will be written out in a few issues. Normally, Stanton’s art keeps me going, but this month, even that wasn’t enough. It is still stunning, but that does not always work.