The Whispering Dark #1
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Christofer Emgård
Artist: Tomás Aira
The Whispering Dark is a new 4 issue miniseries published by Dark Horse. Written by Christofer Emgård and illustrated by Tomás Aira, it follows warrant officer Hannah Vance and a unit of rangers stranded in a war zone. War and religion take center stage, along with a hint of horror. Unfortunately, Whispering Dark #1 fails to distinguish itself. War and religion are powerful issues but they’re far from unexplored, especially in fiction. The liberal use of military jargon and bible verses don’t help matters. Most of the cast are cliches or otherwise bland, leaving Hannah as the only character with real development. She’s a god fearing idealist put into the fires of war. And even she’s not much else.
The book suffers a general lack of context. Set somewhere in the near future or an alternate present, it involves a war. But issue #1 fails to establish anything aside from an offhanded reference to “Russians.” An undeveloped cast and setting is a poor combination. It also leans a little too heavily into established tropes and clichés. As of now, the series doesn’t seem to offer a new take on the complex topics it tackles. The only notable thing it does is tackle the uncomfortable topic of drugs in warfare, through Hannah and her allies’ steady diet of “go-pills.” Whispering Dark’s writing isn’t bad as much as just very safe and unoriginal.
Aira’s art helps salvage some of the writing. The facial expressions are believable and convey just the right amount of emotion it needs to. The wilderness Hannah is stranded receives a surprising amount of consistent detail. It handles the handful of horror elements well even if the religious ones are too obvious. Aira does a better job telling the story than Emgård does. Unfortunately, there’s hardly any panels with Hannah’s clumsy narration. It distracts too much from the art and brings down the general level of quality considerably. Admittedly the art has its flaws. The colors are a little too flat and the lighting is far too bright. Additionally, the camouflage patterns digitally inserted onto the uniforms end up breaking the immersion.
The Whispering Dark clearly has lofty intentions. There are attempts at dealing with complicated subjects and human nature. It also sets the seeds for some interesting horror elements, though they have yet to materialize in any meaningful way. What you’re left with is a decidedly middling story with some decent art. The Whispering Dark treads some well-worn ground and fails to take a new path.
The Whispering Dark #1
The Whispering Dark is largely forgettable and fails to establish a compelling premise.