Hailstone #1 is published by Stout Club in association with Comixology Originals. It comes from the creative team of writer Rafael Scavone, artist Rafael de Latorre, colorist Wesllei Manoel, and letterer Bernardo Brice. In the midst of the U.S. Civil War, in a small Montana town known as Hailstone, people are starving. A young woman named Mary is out foraging in the woods with her mother for any type of food they can find. But as she searches, she is set upon by something. Her mother hears a scream and finds Mary’s basket and blood on the snow.
Back in town, the citizens are growing restless. With the loss of Mary and several others, the people are scared and hungry. The Union army has set up a factory to manufacture supplies for the war efforts in the south. But they are reluctant to assist the townsfolk whose home they have commandeered. With the townsfolk at the factory’s gates, the sheriff and his deputy attempt diplomacy to prevent conflict. However, a greater threat than any of them could imagine lies just outside of their village, waiting to strike.
Hailstone #1 is an interesting and compelling first issue. Despite being billed as a horror-thriller, the story focuses much more on the social tensions in Hailstone and the effects of the Civil War. Under most circumstances, this would be detrimental to the story. However, there is something about stories written in the wild west that allows for more of a slow boil of horror. I think the reason this issue works so well is the way that Scavone has permeated the story with tension and dread.
Every page contributes to this feeling of helplessness that translates from the desperate townspeople. Small moments and asides keep this feeling as though it is all about to boil over soon. Small details like a panel dedicated to the sheriff standing alone and sobbing over the loss of Mary go a long way. These feel like real people with genuine fears and anxieties. Now, whether these fears will go from existential to corporeal is yet to be seen. But this first issue does a great job of making you feel their fear.
The art from Latorre is beautiful and expressive. The characters look detailed, and the emotions playing across their faces feel genuine. This is paired with gorgeous backgrounds and scenery. From snow-covered trees to billowing industrial smokestacks, each panel is a joy to look at. Equally impressive are the colors from Manoel. The use of blues in almost every panel adds to the cold, bitter bleakness of the setting.
I say almost because Manoel very cleverly switches palettes when the sheriff meets with the army’s Captain. Inside the Captain’s office, the palette switches to warm orange and reds. Despite the starving people outside, the Captain lives in comfort, and you can almost feel that comfort with these colors.
The letters from Brice are well implemented. The bubbles are never obtrusive and help to highlight the gorgeous art while remaining clean and easy to read.
Overall, Hailstone #1 was a solid first issue. There isn’t much horror by way of monsters or terror, but it builds the world superbly. The dread and fear that the people of Hailstone feel are palpable as you read, and there are enough mysteries to make issue two an enticing prospect. If you’re a fan of period horror or westerns, then I definitely recommend this one.
Hailstone #1 is available now on Comixology.
Hailstone #1 was a solid first issue. There isn’t much horror by way of monsters or terror, but it builds the world superbly. The dread and fear that the people of Hailstone feel are palpable as you read, and there are enough mysteries to make issue two an enticing prospect