Comics: Cult Classic: Return to Whisper #1 - Reviewed

Taking cues from Stephen King’s It, Vault Comic’s Cult Classic: Return to Whisper weaves a spooky tale that follows a group of children and their search for treasure, then fast forwards 20 years to see the children grown and what has become of them.

Return to Whisper issue one opens and introduces to the group of teenagers who call themselves The Graver Robber Society. Though a nickname that certainly sounds disturbing, it is really just a group of kids who get together and watch a horror show, akin to Tales from the Crypt, most likely without the knowledge of their parents. One night, as they have gathered together in a treehouse, they sit around the TV and learn that one of the member’s archaeology professor father recently discovered a book that was said to show the location of Civil War era treasure. Upon this revelation, the children form a plan to steal the book and find the treasure, promising to bury it and return to unbury and utilize it in twenty years. Writer Eliot Rahal, known for his recent work with Valiant Entertainment’s Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe, does an excellent job transitioning back and forth between the two timelines. Giving us smaller glimpses of the pasts of the children, while showing us the troublesome futures many of them grow to have allows us to connect with the characters on both levels. When writing about the characters as children, his writing is light, peppered with teen angst as well as cheesy dialogue and humor that I think will cause plenty of adult readers to reminisce. I enjoyed the way he mixed in scenes from the clearly violent, gory television program the kids were watching together, as it further added to the classic supernatural horror feel of this book. When we initially see the transition to the children now grown, we are met with an intense scene of violence and sadness, followed by glimpses of the lives of several of the characters, showcasing how dark and depressing life has become for many of them. The overall feel is very melancholy and you as a reader will be left with a sense of dread, anticipating that things are only going to get worse for the characters. You begin to wonder, is the group simply ridden with bad luck or could they be under a curse from the treasure that they uncovered in their youth? I love seeing Rahal work on a project that is so much different than what I have seen him work on before. So far removed from the type of story that Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe is, Return to Whisper showcases his versatility and talent well. Issue one ends on a crazy cliffhanger, instead of answering our questions, it just leaves us with more. It leaves readers to wonder what will happen next, thus creating a need for a second issue which certainly is something necessary to make a first issue of a new series successful.

The art, done by Felipe Cunha, makes this series feel like an all ages title. Though there are certainly some scenes of violence, they are done in an over the top, classic horror style, again somewhat a la Tales from the Crypt. The characters are drawn in a youthful, cartoon like way, making the book feel young and fresh. Dee Funniffe lends his hand to the coloring portion of this comic and has done so in a way that the timelines certainly feel very distinct. He has separated the youthful timeline from the adult timeline by utilizing select color schemes for both. You get a brighter, more vibrant use of colors in the scenes where the characters are children. The portions in which we see the characters as adults the colors that are used are darker, deeper and certainly gloomier. This works well to keep the story cohesive and easy to read, as many times timeline jumping, especially in a first issue, can get confusing.

Because of the intense cliffhanger we are left on with Return to Whisper issue one, I think fans will be anticipating issue two right away. A book that mixes the likes of Stephen King with cult favorites like Tales from the Crypt, Goosebumps or Are you Afraid of the Dark, this series is sure to please a plethora of audiences. I greatly enjoyed seeing Eliot Rahal write something new and show off his versatility and I am definitely looking forward to issue two and the expanse of the series.

-Rachel Rutherford