The Whispering Dark is a new series by Dark Horse Comics about a bunch of American soldiers caught behind Russian enemy lines. The main character, Hannah Vance, is attempting to lead the survivors, but her crisis of faith is ever present as they must do terrible things to stay alive.
So what’s it about?
Read our exclusive preview.
Why does this matter?
Writer Christofer Emgard has himself an intriguing story on his hands due to his the well-written captions and premise. There’s a horror angle on this that is interesting due to the story’s ability to maintain an internal narration with Vance that never lets up. The official summary says this like Apocalypse Now and that’s not wrong!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue continues the slow boil storytelling technique of never letting up inside Vance’s head. She’s attempting to keep it together with no sleep or food while in a high-pressure situation. There’s a brooding undercurrent that Emgard slowly reveals, making one wonder if demons or witches are involved, but the narrative never strays from the dark and realistic tone. These characters are in a bad place and in some respects their own minds losing it is the biggest threat. You see this twice in this issue, once between two of Vance’s men, and again later when they encounter some locals. Emgard is writing an intriguing psychological drama here that is ever so slightly edging towards the supernatural but never showing its cards. I’m interested to see when the supernatural elements emerge since they are very lightly present.
This is a heavy read due to the captions. That slows things down, but given the way this issue is plotted, that’s okay. The characters are attempting to find a safe passage and not be killed by the enemy and they must stay low and quiet. That makes Vance’s narration melodic and read, at times, like poetry.
The art by Tomas Aira continues to be realistic and particularly strong with the environments. The cold, quiet woods are a major element of the series so Aira’s ability to draw these backgrounds is key. There are touches of visual horror and Aira capitalizes on these as well. Weapons and clothing also look photorealistic at times.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is a story that requires patience. There are most definitely supernatural elements at play but even up to the last page of this issue it’s unclear how they factor into the story. There’s a crisis of faith going on, so maybe demons are afoot? The first issue was slow and this issue moves a bit faster, but it’s still holding back not revealing its cards.
Is it good?
I continue to like this story, but I’m not in love with it. The creators are expertly unveiling something big, but very slowly. I’m still intrigued, but one might argue this is more like an indie film with a low budget keeping things simple until the very last shot. I just hope that lost shot makes all this build up worth it.