HOUSE OF WHISPERS #1
Art by: Domonike “DOMO” Stanton
Cover by: Sean Andrew Murray
Variant cover By: Bill Sienkiewicz
Written by: Nalo Hopkinson
Out of the four new series in the Sandman Universe, HOUSE OF WHISPERS, and LUCIFER are the ones that I was/am looking forward to reading the most. LUCIFER because I’ve loved the comic character since his creation. And HOUSE OF WHISPERS because from first glance, it’s my aesthetic. I love the setting. New Orleans lends itself to a supernatural story. It’s a city with a colorful past and if you believe the stories there’s magic in the streets of New Orleans. HOUSE OF WHISPERS captures that perfectly.
There’s a large cast of characters. But the story focuses on a few major ones. Erzulie Fréda. Followers of Voodoo come to her in their dreams to call upon this goddess to grant their hearts’ desire. On Erzulie’s steamboat, the party is always in full swing and crawfish are — fresh. But there’s a disturbance. Something’s going on in the waking realm. Four girls, three sisters: Latoya, Lumi, and Habibi, and Latoya’s girlfriend, Maggie. The girls have come across a book that can’t decode but are filled with the power of rumors and whispers, that if released could mean badness for the waking world. Erzulie tries to look for the book, knowing that it’s her cousin’s, and he doesn’t have it. But trying to keep him from the mortal world has explosive consequences.
What I love most about this issue how layered it is. The writing is amazing. But it’s the attention to detail that I find most striking. It’s a comic book steeped in Afro-diasporan folkloric traditions without falling into a “token trap.” Every single thing about this book from the artwork to the way it was written is a celebration of culture that we rarely see. I love this issue for dipping with literal #BlackGirlMagic. And truth be told, I found this comic more compelling than the first issue of THE DREAMING.
I love how rich not only this story is but the mythology that Nalo Hopkinson is weaving seamlessly in with this issue. There’s little Easter Eggs that Hopkinson has slipped into the issue. For example, there’s a character in drag and their drag name is Django Défilée which is a subtle nod to Marie Sainte Dédée Bazile as known as Défilée and Défilée-La-Foll who was an important figure in the Haitian Revolution. I enjoy how inclusive it is. The cast is all people of color. There are two queer women among the main characters. And there’s a genderqueer person, Alter Boi, as a side character. I just love zir so much. And even Hopkinson has said that Erzulie, looks out of women and children but also queer people. They’re hers. This book really hit a chord with me.
Honestly, I could go on about this issue for at least an hour. Because it’s that good and it’s that layered. It doesn’t even read that way. The prose is subtle and the plot flows wonderfully even working with such a dense religion like Voodoo.