Writer: Steven Grant
Artist: Jean Dzialowski
Colors: Sunder Raj
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover artists: Kody Chamberlain & Martin Redman
Editor: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Price: $3.99 US
We’ve been hearing about this Whisper revival for a few years now, thanks to writer Steven Grant’s column at ComicBookresources.com. It was originally positioned at another publisher, later moving over to the up-and-coming Boom! Studios. I didn’t read the original Whisper series from First Comics, but fortunately, the only reference to the original incarnation is to be found on the cover (in the form of a poster behind the new version of title character). I like the idea of setting this new story in hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans at the height of the natural disaster, but the art fails to really convey the sense of place and the overwhelming effects of the weather disturbance. Grant’s script is full of tension and action, and I like the dark political side of the plot. But the title character’s motivation and how her relationship with her twin sister plays into the big picture are never made fully clear. This one-shot — leading into an upcoming limited series, as I understand it — boast some potential but it fails to fully grab me.
For years now, a man named Payton has fostered a relationship with a Colombian druglord, and the time has time come for him to alter that business relationship. Payton doesn’t want drugs. He wants an army of thugs to destabilize an entire continent. He’ll need to convince his reluctant new business partners to co-operate, and to that end, he’s brought Danae Young, a woman who can be very… persuasive. But what Payton doesn’t realize is that Danae isn’t who he thinks she is. Unfortunately for him, her skills are nevertheless just as deadly.
Overall, I like Jean Dzialowski’s artwork on this one-shot. The sketchiness of the linework is in keeping with the harsh, underworld qualities of the plot, premises and players. The colors also reinforce those qualities nicely. It’s a bit difficult to keep track of the peripheral characters, as the henchmen around Payton and the Colombian all seem rather interchangeable. And as a I noted earlier, though the script tells us the story is set in the Big Easy, it never really looks or feels that way. Furthermore, though later panels show rain pelting down on Whisper as she contends with armed mercenaries, we don’t see hurricane-force winds buffeting them. We’re told visibility is severely limited but we never see it.
Another visual problem with the book comes with the lettering. The title character is so named because she speaks in a whisper, and Ed Dukeshire wisely tries to convey that quality in her speech balloons. But the smaller, grey font is more difficult to read, and that interferes with the flow and illusion of the story.
The revelation of Payton’s unethical ambitions struck me as one of the strongest moments of the script. I liked how the plot broke out beyond a run-of-the-mill drug deal and embraced a notion of global politics, warfare and terrorism. It struck me as not only being clever but oddly plausible. Grant’s opening scene, in which we see the title character (or at least one of the Young sisters) struggle for breath serves as a nice symbol of her effort not to drown in the sea of corruption that she’s infiltrated, not to mention in her own undercurrent of psychological damage.
Ultimately, the book is hindered by a lack of clarity. In an effort to maintain an air of mystery, Grant doesn’t tell us nearly enough about the title character and her sister. It’s not clear what motivates her or how she managed to switch places with her sister. There are insufficient cues to differentiate between the two sisters as well. Instead of teasing and pleasing the reader with tension and twists, Grant and Dzialowski end up confusing him or her. 5/10