ComiXology’s Originals stable continues to bring out really interesting genre titles, this time its the turn of supernatural western Hailstone from Stout Club’s Rafael Scavone and Rafael de la Torre. But will this chilling cowboy tale leave its audience cold?
Publisher: ComiXology Originals/Stout Club
Writer: Rafael Scavone
Artist: Rafael de Latorre
Price: £2.39 from ComiXology
When a young girl goes missing on a snowy trail while out looking for food, sheriff Denton Ross approaches the local general for support. This isn’t the first disappearance and what is the connection to the generals weapons factory? And are the local’s suspicion of the nearby Niitsitapi tribe based on prejudice or do they have some foundation?
Writers Rafael Scavone and artist Rafael deLatorre have crafted a really engaging and mysterious opening chapter for this chilling western tale. The mix of starving frontiers people and mysterious native Americans is a well worn concept, yet the two Rafaels have created a really engaging world by presenting it in a more established ‘modern’ time (rather than traditional ‘wild west’). All this means the ‘white folk’ have a much stronger foothold in the new world and so whatever is troubling them feels even more pinned into a corner. It also allows the writers to play with pre-conceptions about what this type of story is and could end up being as the opening chapter leaves everything quite vague.
Visually it look fantastic with de Latorre having a really detailed and dense style. It has a style reminiscent of Chris Wildgoose in the wonderful Porcelain books and the attention to detail and period flourishes are definitely on a par with this wonderful series. With a more Victoriana feel than a traditional Wild West feel, it reminded us of the cold wilderness of Vault Comics’ Black Stars Above, while the snowy scenes also evokes memories of Jock’s work in Originals stable mate Snow Angels.
This detailed artwork is complimented by some understated colors and letters from Weslei Manoel and Bernardo Brice. Both complement the line work superbly to create this cold and unforgiving landscape for the story to be told in.
This opening chapter leaves everything a little vague and hints enigmatically at what is to come rather than dangling a more obvious carrot for the reader. However there is enough there to bring you back for more. The characters are engaging, especially Denton and the slimy general, but also the mysterious deputy Tobias whose troubled past and links to the Niitsitapi tribe which you feel must be developed further.
There is definitely plenty to get your teeth into in this story going forward (which is perhaps a poor choice of phrase given the starving nature of the protagonists!), however it feels like it needs few more issues for the story to truly unfold and perhaps when it is collected into a trade that we will really be able to warm to this chilly western tale.