Overview

Only in Whispers #2

Review

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Only in Whispers #2

Credits

  • Words: Steve Kanaras, Kevin O. Byrne, & Andrew Pollock
  • Art: Daniel Montoro, Anthony Summey, Randy P, Valiente, et al
  • Inks: Daniel Montoro, Anthony Summey, Randy P, Valiente, et al
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: Various
  • Publisher: Free Lunch Comics
  • Price: $4.95
  • Release Date: Oct 6, 2009

The horror anthology, with its creepy inhuman host and cautionary stories of the unexplained, was once a staple of the comics industry. Free Lunch Comics has been seeking to recapture that eerie ambience with their series Only in Whispers.

After an introduction by the requisite horror host, Mr. Quiet (a blank-eyed Vincent Price look-alike), the issue transitions to the first story, “Kokopelli.” Not so much a horror story as a brush with the divine, “Kokopelli” focuses on a young couple unable to conceive a child. When the would-be father finds himself stranded in the desert, his unconscious call for help summons the attentions of a Native American god who intervenes in both his life and that of his bride.

This is a very intriguing opener for the book which sets a unique tone. Immediately, we see that Only in Whispers will not be merely gore and cheap thrills as some horror/supernatural comics strive for. Kanaras’ script meditates on the nature of the divine, the power of belief, and whether we need our gods more than they need us. This injects an intellectual and spiritual component to the series that makes it stand out. David Montoro’s angular art style is simple yet effective for the story they are telling and engenders a sense of real emotion.

The second story, “No Peace, No Rest – A New England Tale,” brings us into more familiar horror territory. During the Revolutionary War, a soldier is heartbroken by news of his daughter’s death. However, young Hope may not be staying in the ground for very long. This story, also by Kanaras, has a suitably eerie and authentically historical feel but the payoff is cut short by its “to be continued” nature. On its own, “No Peace” is not as satisfying a tale, though it’s a promising start as a continued feature. Anthony Summey’s art has a classic comics feel to it with beautiful clean lines and a nice air of realism.

Similarly, Kanaras’ text piece, “Mind Games,” is part of an ongoing feature and is not as rewarding an experience on its own. The story focuses on a present-day young man who dabbles in the occult and is in training with a powerful magician. It’s an interesting set-up chapter that balances the mystical with the suburban (the neighbor lady who’s convinced the hero has sacrificed her cat to Satan is particularly amusing). However, some elements of the story are a bit confusing without further context. It will require a few more chapters before the big picture comes into focus.

“Reunion” by Kevin O. Byrne and artist Randy P. Valiente returns us to traditional horror as a father comforts a son terrified of a monster lurking in his room. When he mentions that he too was frightened by a monster as a child, the reader can likely guess where the story is going. “Reunion” is a bit predictable but it captures the style of the classic one-shot horror tales of past anthologies, as does Valiente’s effective use of light and shadow.

Next is Andrew Pollock’s “WitchHound: The Wailing Part II.” While it is the second chapter of a continuing feature and thus also requires context to fully appreciate, this story immediately grabbed me. It opens with the WitchHound (apparently a heroic werewolf) locked in combat with a banshee for the soul of a human man. Pollock’s script makes use of Irish mythology, lending the sense of a larger world and an epic conflict to his story. Admittedly, I am a sucker for Celtic myths and faerie legends so other readers’ mileage may vary. However, Pollock does an admirable job of world-building in this story and his gaunt, stylized characters and heavy use of shadows have a definite Mike Mignola influence.

The issue finishes out with “Mr. Quiet’s True Tales of the Supernatural.” These vary from the emotionally affecting (a young man haunted by his fiancé’s grandfather) to the spiritual (the search for one’s spirit animal) to the somewhat implausible (wind in the branches becoming the Angel of Death).

Overall, Only in Whispers #2 is skillfully produced with solid writing and art from all involved. Its main flaw is that these small doses of story do not always satisfy or provide the needed context for a reader to jump in blind. Given time and future installments, the book will likely shine as these stories are given a chance to develop.

For ordering info for Only in Whispers, contact skanaras@freelunchcomics.com

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