Story: Joe Hill, Adaptation: David M. Booher, Art: Zoe Thorogood, Colors: Chris O’Halloran, Letters: Shawn Lee.
My wife and I try to do a book club together every year. It helps make a practice out of reading together. We started with Stephen King's It. Then, way led on to way (we are HUGE horror nerds), and we found ourselves at the maliciously macabre doors of King's son, Joe Hill. Hill's stories are known to create a tight-wire act that balances horror and hope so precariously as to make even Dick Grayson nervous.
Image Comics now gives us an adaptation of Hill's work in the form of Rain. Honeysuckle's life is looking up and a bright future of hope and love is on the horizon. Then it starts to rain. Needles fall to the earth with deadly consequences for those caught outside. When the clouds part, the sun shines on a world brutally changed. Rain #1 and #2 introduce us to a world defined by loss and Honeysuckle's attempt to make sense of it. A beautifully woven tale, Rain is a title you read, reread, and buy the paperback.
Adaptation is a difficult task, but these pages evidence a clean execution. The writing is so emotionally laden and familiarized between characters. As readers it feels like we are given a glance into a real community of people with pasts and (now unknown) futures. This all comes off in the dialogue. The rhythm to each character differs as well, a small touch that helps us experience loss more heavily. We may not be familiar with these characters, but we see them familiar with each other, and that's enough for our empathy to be used against us. It's a wonderfully horrific technique that also grounds a story that otherwise hinges on raining nails.
The art kept me on edge with its wavering lines and inconsistencies overall. The linework creates an air of uncertainty that's perfectly on-brand with the story. Muted color palettes rule the day here, giving an almost dream-like quality of distance from what we're seeing. This helped me experience the dissociation and shock being experienced by the characters. I felt as if my empathy was shepherded to slaughter through the artwork's gut-wrenching, sometimes visceral, depictions of loss and heartache.
Panel layouts are my favorite aspect of this book. The creative team uses panels well to create atmospheres of intense emotion. The size of panels dictate the emotional saturation within.
Rain #1 & #2 are sad. I mean REALLY sad, but there's a glimmer of hope hiding in the bloody needlestack. With characters that naturally earn your love and a story that's every bit as horrible as it is human, Rain is a series to keep your eye on. With two out of five issues already on shelves, I'd get to running so you get caught up before your friends. Issues 1 and 2 of Rain are available now at your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP, or directly on Image Comics' website!
This melancholy macabre of Joe Hill can be found in many other places. I might recommend the ever popular Locke and Key series as well as N0S4A2 and The Fireman. I hope you dive in and find yourselves cheerfully chilled.
Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.