Whisper Returns

I’ve never read Steven Grant‘s Whisper — it was part of the 1980s indy boom, when I wasn’t reading comics — but I’m curious about the planned relaunch. Just reading about the series’ run is a history lesson:

In late 1983, the first issue of Whisper appeared from Capital Comics and instantly became their bestselling title. Unfortunately, Capital as also a distributor, and other publishers were displeased at their distributor going into competition with them. Capital realized distribution was more profitable than publishing and abandoned their comics company. Not long afterward, Whisper (along with Capital’s other titles, Nexus and The Badger) reappeared at First Comics for a run that lasted until 1991.

The author describes the book as crime/espionage with a flavor of political paranoia (which sounds much like the recurring news sections of his column Permanent Damage). The lead character is a female ninja, a type that was new then but overused now, so I’m intrigued by his attempt to reimagine the character in a way that’s in keeping with comic history. However, it’s a method that isn’t often accepted by fans today:

Back in 1956, DC Comics revolutionized the comics world by “bringing back” the Flash to a new generation. The Flash had been one of their most popular superheroes throughout the ’40s, supporting two titles and appearing regularly in two others. But the Flash they “brought back” was not the ’40s Flash, but a completely new Flash (then) with a completely new continuity, capturing the essence of the original but geared toward new times. Though it wasn’t clear for several years afterward, that was the launch of comics as we know them today.

It’s also the spirit of our Whisper “relaunch” and I hope that’s the spirit you take it in.

Boom!’s Whisper will feature an all-new character in an all-new continuity. Besides allowing me to escape some of the trapdoors I’d inadvertently built into the old character, this is also the easiest way to retool the concept for today. There is still something something fundamentally wrong at the core of the new book’s “universe.” It will once again play in fields of black ops, shadow governments, intersections of the intelligence underworld and the criminal underworld, and political paranoia (and, believe me, we’re into a whole new class of political paranoia), and our heroine, also haunted by the brutal secrets of her past, will still be a lone woman taking on incredible odds and making it all up as she goes along. It will just be a new character.

The Earth-1 Whisper, so to speak. Longtime Whisper devotees will find everything they ever loved about the old series, new readers will be able to start from scratch along with the book.

That’s the part I’m most interested in, the bit about making it new-reader-friendly. That section also demonstrates Grant’s immense knowledge of comics, including thoughtful analysis of what makes them work, and the way he writes intelligently for an enjoyable read.

I’m hoping that, without the long-running publication corporate superhero characters have behind them, old readers familiar with the character will be accepting of this approach. I suppose it depends on whether Grant manages to capture what they liked about the first run.

The first issue of Whisper will be a one-shot origin, due in August. Art is by Joseph Cooper and Martin Redmond, whom I’m not familiar with. The quotes above are reprinted with permission from the first newsletter. To be kept informed of news on the title, sign up for the Whisper newsletter.

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4 Responses to “Whisper Returns”

  1. Shawn Hill Says:

    I really loved the 80s series; even had a few letters published in the letters page. It was definitely ahead of it’s time, and thanks to art mostly by Norm Beyfrogle, not too heavy on the T&A art that always hobbles Elektra for example. Really excited about the character (or rather, the spirit) of Whisper coming back.

    The best part of the book was how complicated the plot twists were; she was always being betrayed, and always overcoming obstacles.

  2. James kosmicki Says:

    This was a series that played with narrative in very interesting ways. I have very fond memories of how Grant used narrative captions to show one perspective, while having the visuals show another. but I haven’t re-read it in years. Given the recent announcement, it’s on my list to pull out and revisit soon. I do remember that it’s best to ignore the Capital issues and go straight to the First issues.

    I don’t know if you liked the TV show Alias, but there’s a strong connection between the main character in Whisper and Sydney Bristow, even if they were separated by 20 years. Think Alias for plot complications and Queen and Country for political intrigue and you’re getting closer.

  3. Coming Up: Books Due in August 2006 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Studios brings back Steven Grant’s Whisper ($3.99, JUN06 2973) with a new first issue. (Strangely, it’s numbered 1 in the catalog and 0 [...]

  4. Boom! Studios » Blog Archive » COMICS WORTH READING on WHISPER Says:

    [...] “In late 1983, the first issue of Whisper appeared from Capital Comics and instantly became their bestselling title. Unfortunately, Capital as also a distributor, and other publishers were displeased at their distributor going into competition with them. Capital realized distribution was more profitable than publishing and abandoned their comics company. Not long afterward, Whisper (along with Capital’s other titles, Nexus and The Badger) reappeared at First Comics for a run that lasted until 1991.  [...]

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