House of Whispers No. 5 review: Back into the Dreaming and Turtle Island


New faces and scared children make up the House of Whispers.

Plugging right along with all kinds of new mythology and frightful stories is House of Whispers, one of four new Sandman universe comics from Vertigo. Lucifer, The Dreamingand Books of Magic are all reboots or continuations of previous runs, but HoW is an entirely new concept, from writers Nalo Hopkinson and Dan Watters, illustrator Dominike Stanton, colorist John Rauch, and letterer Deron Bennett, focusing on Haitian mythos, voodoo, Creole life, and New Orleans. Some characters have been dealing with a mystical plague that makes the living think they are dead, and other characters have been trying to escape from the Dreaming, where they appear to be trapped.

Vertigo Comics

Running from gods in the House of Whispers

Last issue, Shakpana had possessed a random stranger and made his way to the doorstep of Habibi and Lumi, who fell into ownership of his book, a book of plagues that was never written, that disappeared from Dream’s library back in the Dreaming. Sister Turtle was sent into the human world to also find the book and ended up finding Maggie and Latoya, sister to Habibi and Lumi. This issue starts out with Shakpana attacking Lumi and Habibi, but they make their escape, even as Shakpana possesses their father. The two young girls make it to Maggie and Latoya’s apartment, giving Sister Turtle a chance to reclaim the book, but Shakpana, in the body of the girls’ father, snatches it up. Back at the House of Whispers, in the Dreaming, Erzulie Dantor regrets sending Shakpana to the human realm and seeks out a connection to “the waking one.” Also, Uncle Monday has been guarding the disconnected souls floating at the Rift, and the readers are treated to a parable about a brother, transformed into a swan, who can’t fully change back because of some rumors about his sister. At the end of that story, Dantor becomes Red-Eyes, and we get a color change to her word bubbles. She’s so angry!

Vertigo Comics

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The House of Whispers is in turmoil

Erzulie is beefing with her selves, hard, and sends Uncle Monday away from guard duty, up to the library of Dream, to retrieve the plague book that they don’t know isn’t there. Back in the human world, Shakpana infects Sister Turtle again, and to beat the plague she sheds her human form, which causes her to start to become a gigantic flying turtle. Papa Agwe, Erzulie’s husband/god, is also in New Orleans, looking for the plague book, and sees several of the infected, committing crimes and seeking revenge, believing there to be no consequences, since they think they are dead, when really their souls have been removed and trapped in the Dreaming. Agwe sees Sister Turtle, flying towards the water before she becomes Turtle Island, and follows her to the waterside, encountering Shakpana, who infects Agwe’s host body, sending his soul to the Dreaming and leaving Agwe to pilot his mortal flesh. Shakpana leaves Agwe and Habibi’s father, Jamil, on the shoreline, directy in front of a tsunami caused by Sister Turtle’s landing in the water. Agwe, lord of the great waters, breaks the wave, at the cost of killing his host body. Jamil wakes up, cured, as Agwe and Shakpana are shunted back to the Dreaming.

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Sister Turtle, now transformed into Turtle Island, secreted the four women away from Shakpana, and Habibi has torn the pages about the plague from the book, giving Team Turtle the upper hand. This comic has caused this author to delve deep into African lore and come out much wiser. It is recommended to anyone who is looking for a more Afro-centric take on comics. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.