Story by Joe Hill
Adapted by David M. Booher
Art: Zoe Thorogood and Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: February 16th, 2022
It’s the morning after the rainstorm of needles as Joe Hill’s Rain #2 opens, with Honeysuckle Speck wondering what to do next after the previous day’s slaughter of her girlfriend and friends. But the deaths won’t end there, as another rainstorm looms, and Honeysuckle finds there are other horrors beyond a deluge of needles.
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Joe Hill’s Rain offers a twist on the usual “end of the world” story. Here, it’s not some plague or zombie infection bringing the world to its knees, but nature itself, in the form of periodic rainstorms that drop tons of razor-sharp needles from the sky instead of raindrops.
In Joe Hill’s Rain #2, as needles coat everything outdoors, Honeysuckle, Templeton, and Templeton’s mother Ursula sit inside, trying to grasp what happened. Templeton, being a young boy, is mercifully clueless about what’s going on, as Honeysuckle and Ursula theorize what could have caused it to happen. Ursula wanders off to discuss her deceased husband, offering insights into him and herself. Unlike most post-apocalyptic stories these days (which seem to be everywhere), this book’s characters live and breathe, they’re complex human beings who aren’t pigeon-holed into clichéd roles.
The scenes at the beginning of this issue, with Honeysuckle sleeping next to the corpse of her girlfriend Yolanda, are heart-breaking, and her feeling of grief is palpable. This may have been her first love, but the obstacles she had to overcome to love Yolanda (including having homophobic parents), made the love that much stronger. And I’m sure this will hang over the next few issues as heavily as those needle-filled clouds in the sky.
This issue offers a darkly humorous look at the world that’s been affected by this disaster, giving periodic glimpses of Honeysuckle’s phone, where a Twitter-like feed shows misspelled, all caps tweets from the Commander-in-Chief, which look hilariously like something a former occupant of the White House would have posted. In the nearby neighborhood, we see people trying to clean up the needles and dispose of the dead. It all feels creepily realistic like this would actually be happening in the real world post-disaster.
Zoe Thorogood’s art complements the story perfectly. Her character designs for Templeton and Honeysuckle are cute and playful, with Templeton always wearing his Dracula cape and fake fangs, play-acting as a vampire. Zoe captures the horrific scenes just as well, the after-effects of a deluge of needles drawn in gory detail.
One panel this issue has Honeysuckle pulling a needle from a dead person’s eye, and it’s drawn in such great detail it gave me a chill. It was reminiscent of the legendary “splinter in the eye” scene from Lucio Fulci’s film “Zombie”, which I’ve only watched one time because of that scene. Yep, I hate eye stuff, but there’s no doubt it’s horrific.
Another panel shows Honeysuckle walking outside, and Zoe draws the blades of grass to look similar to the needles coating the ground, so that whenever Honeysuckle takes a step, we can’t tell whether she’s about to step on grass or an upraised needle. If you’ve ever stepped on something sharp, you’ll be getting shivers, guaranteed.
The second half of the issue follows Honeysuckle as she walks to Denver to check on Yolanda’s dad, to make sure he’s okay. She encounters a few characters along the way, including one violent encounter where we see how formidable she really can be.
Joe Hill’s Rain #2 continues the story after the last issue’s gory climax, spending more time with Honeysuckle and her friends not impacted by the disaster, adding new layers to them and laying the groundwork for an expanded view of that world. It mixes emotional and humorous scenes with scenes of gore and terror, and the whole book has a wonderfully creepy sense of doom throughout. Highly recommended.