With its first issue, Rain sets itself up to be something special. Wrapped in an indie-chic aesthetic of pastels and idiosyncratic character designs, the book presents a human heart before the promised tragedy strikes.
The book tells the story of Honeysuckle Speck and her love for her girlfriend, Yolanda Rusted. So invested are we in Honeysuckle’s reverie—Yolanda is, on the day the issue takes place, driving with her parents to Boulder in order to move in with Honeysuckle—that we could be forgiven in forgetting that this is adapted from a Joe Hill novella and that something tragic is on the way.
Artist Zoe Thorogood’s heartfelt scratchiness implies a zine quality to her near-portraiture of each character, further throwing up a façade of slice-of-life or journal comix, carefully presenting Polaroids and Instagram posts as a sort of relationship shorthand for the two characters’ past together.
Writer David M. Booher contributes to the aesthetic, as well, providing a series of quirky side characters—the Russian stripper, the kid pretending to be a vampire—each with their own promise of hidden depths to be explored, if not for the cold, blank statement that most of them will, inevitably, die.
The sci-fi/horror central concept is the sort of thing that fits distinctly into Joe Hill’s oeuvre—one distinctive oddity that shifts the real to the unreal, the average to the uncanny. In this case, it’s the titular rain, which threatens despite the glowing blue sky of this August afternoon. Something horrible broods in that coming storm front.
The pitch from heartwarming and lovely to terrible and bloody in this issue’s final pages is effectively jarring, but it’s merely an inciting incident—this is, after all, the first of five issues. The true story has yet to unfold, even if this one tragic afternoon feels, despite its relative brevity, narrative enough to elicit the emotions of a successful tragedy.
This is what makes this first issue so incredibly promising: without even touching the broader story, Thorogood and Booher captivate the reader so completely in a story that takes place over perhaps twenty minutes, making them invested in each small character, in every relationship—including Honeysuckle’s relationships with Yolanda’s parents, for god’s sake—and all of this before the kernel of oddity at the center of the book is even defined.
It’s a clever use of aesthetic, and powerful use of characterization and relatability that sinks its hooks in with such effortless effectiveness. It begs the reader to wait, patiently, for issue #2.
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