The Whispering Dark

While I acknowledge that good, spooky entertainment shouldn’t be relegated to a certain season, I am particularly excited each October to see movie marathons on streaming networks, horror blockbusters on the big screen, and an inordinate number of creepy titles popping up on the new release comic rack. Of course, this could just be because I’m looking for something in that vein, but… whatever the case, I was glad to see Dark Horse’s The Whispering Dark #1 on the shelf this week. The comic, by Christofer Emgård and Tomás Aira, combines two of comics’ most popular genres of ages past — horror and war — and offers something that would have made Bill Gaines proud.

The Swedish author, best known for his acclaimed video game writing, is crafting a slow-burning mystery that combines the psychological terror of combat with elements of the supernatural. The series opens with an Army pilot, Hannah Vance, taking over as de facto commander of a party of soldiers shot down and caught behind enemy lines in the mountainous forest of some unnamed war.

The slow onset of terror and unease in this first issue is generated almost exclusively by the soldiers’ situation and their individual anxiety. For Vance, her religious piety is called into question almost as soon as she’s rescued from the fallen chopper. At the root of her crisis of faith is the question of killing, and whether or not this war is justified. From this opening, her personal anxiety builds and the pressure simmers until the group ambushes a small enemy encampment. At that point, an otherworldly malevolence, something insidious and subversive, reveals itself, albeit only for a single panel. Real or imagined, it’s still plenty scary. By the time Emgård and Aira are done, I expect a satisfying little four-issue tale of terror that ruminates not just on the merits of war, but on how we view and define evil.

Another pick this week:

To be honest, I would have skipped right over this book if not for the fact that we had selected it as one of the thirty Marvel “Fresh Start” releases for our focus group discussion. And I fully expected to hate it. Instead, I laughed out loud on almost every page. Black Panther vs. Deadpool #1 is an obvious attempt at cashing in on the characters’ success, and the plot is as predictable as you can imagine. But the script, by Stephen Colbert writer Daniel Kibblesmith, is tight and genuinely funny. And the art by Ricardo López Ortiz is refreshingly kinetic and unique. Can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

October 17 | New Release Highlights | October 31