Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chronic Review: Whispers # 1!

Whispers # 1
Image Comics
Script:    Joshua Luna
Pencils:  Joshua Luna

Whispers is about secret hearts.  Inside we're all at least slightly damaged goods, sad to say.  Each of us shows a brave face to the world, but the inside monologue is a plague of nagging doubts and insecurities.  Blaine has access to other people's secret hearts, and he is learning to give those hearts a nudge in whatever direction he chooses.

Blaine:  OCD with astral projection and girl issues. Score!
Pretty high concept, pretty intriguing concept, and a pretty ballsy concept for Joshua Luna's first solo effort. 

There's several layers to this story, which is partially about Blaine exploring his new found abilities from the ground floor, partially about his managing his obsessive compulsive disorder, and partially about his managing his relationships.  Inside of issue one, we're introduced to a complicated and competitive scene with his ex-girlfriend and her circle, a broken relationship with his mother, and a potentially dangerous connection with an ex-ex-girlfriend. 

That's quite a lot to pack into an intro!  None of it feels cramped, mind you, not that one need be worried about one of the co-creators of The Sword.   It all looks gorgeous, too.  There's a Luna style, and if that's what you like, that's what you're going to get.  Having said that, I certainly remember The Girls, and the art I'm looking at in Whispers is more complex and more beautiful. 

I particularly enjoyed this little experiment with light and shading, as the trees cast a shadow over Blaine and Lily:

It's striking, no?

Lots to like about Whispers.  Your basic superhero story assumes powers and pinpoint control.  Blaine has no clue what he's doing, and he's figuring out the rules with the reader.  He's got limitations on his controls, and all conclusions are guesswork at this point.  There's more drama in that, and a good choice, I think.

The juice of the story rides on a dirt simple question - "If you could push the thoughts of anybody you knew toward whatever end you liked...what would you do?"  If Luna can provide answers that surprise, show the inevitable pitfalls without preaching, the book should be very good.  We're not that far yet.

To be great, not just very good, the secret hearts need to ring true.  I don't know if that's the case in issue one.  It's an admittedly tough wire to walk, crawling inside the human soul, cutting out all the bullshit dressing and showing how people really think inside where nobody is watching.  The scene with Blaine's mother in particular felt  Slightly disingenuous.

In terms of nailing the internal dialogue in a manner that makes one believe his character can actually pierce people's souls, Whispers gets a C.  In terms of delivering an intriguing concept packed with story in an attractive looking package, Whispers is an A.  It's early, but it's looking like we can chalk up another solid win for Eric Stephenson and Image.

- Ryan

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