REVIEW: 'Hailstone' #1 by Rafael Scavone, Rafael de Latorre, and Wesllei Manoel

People keep missing in a small town in Montana. Something is abducting them. With winter making resources scarce the townspeople are not just scared they're starving. Meanwhile, the army has built a factory nearby with resources all to themselves. Desperate for help, Sheriff Denton Ross asks for help but caught between finding a missing woman under strange circumstances and an Army captain unmoved by their plight the next victim is just a matter of time. 

Hailstone (comiXology Originals) #1

Written by Rafael Scavone
Art by Rafael de Latorre
Colored by Wesllei Manoel
Cover by Rafael Albuquerque
Rafael de Latorre
Lettered by Bernardo Brice
Edited by Bis Stringer Horne
Digital Release Date May 11 2021
Age Rating 15+ Only
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On Jacob's Path
In the isolated Montana town of Hailstone, food is running low. Trapped in by relentless snow, the hungry and desperate townspeople come into conflict with the well-stocked military factory. And to make matters worse, a local girl -- Mary -- has just disappeared. Sheriff Denton Ross and his deputy Tobias step in to keep the peace, but their efforts start them down a dangerous path of investigation; into Mary's disappearance, the factory, and just what it is doing here in this isolated place, so far from the war.

★★★★☆ (4/5)

Western horror stories are a subgenre unto itself and there's a wealth of potential storylines to be mined from early America. In 'Hailstone,' the place is an isolated town in Montana. The time is sometime during the Civil War. The sheriff is investigating  the disappearance of a girl named Mary and is feeling the pressure of a starving population during a harsh winter while the factory nearby run by the Army is well stocked. Writer Rafael Scavone has delivered some fantastic world-building in the first issue while keeping the mystery under wraps despite some ferocious attacks that we never really see. 

Scavone sucks us into the plight of the townspeople, the difficult position the sheriff is in, and the callous mysterious Army captain. We're invested in all these subplots while being horrified at whatever is abducting people. It's a clever way to keep the reader engaged in the mystery while fleshing out characters. It also demonstrates that Karens existed well into the 19th century when a local woman openly blames Native tribes for the missing girl. She's quickly shut down by the sheriff whose deputy is a Native American. 

The art team of Rafael de Latorre and Wesllei Manoel provide a beautifully detailed and era appropriate setting. The attention to detail is really remarkable. From interior design, to costume design, architecture, right down to the dirt on the floor of the Sheriff's office, de Latorre has thought of everything. I only mention it because every artist works differently but few are this thorough or thoughtful of the environment. Providing some darker earth tones is Manoel for clothing and interiors contrasted with the vast whiteness of a snowy background. One area where colors speak loudly is the office of the Army captain during a meeting with the Sheriff. You can almost feel the warmth of the fireplace in a room lit in yellow, brown, and orange. It's very striking and shows how well off the Army is over the townspeople. 

The person or thing kidnapping people is never seen, never revealed to the reader. We only see the chilling sound effects done by letterer Bernardo Brice, the deafening growl that occurs during an attack. It's a calculated risk to not reveal more in the first issue but it works to elevate the reader's curiousity. 

'Hailstone' #1 is off to a great start. Scavone is holding close to the mysterious elements in the series so far. And yet the world-building pays off in an enthralling Western horror story with questions we're dying to have the answers to. 'Hailstone' is highly recommended and issue one should have you hooked. 



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