The end of the 19th century was marked by a number of gold rushes, where after a discovery of gold miners would rush an area looking to become rich themselves.
Set against the backdrop of the most famous of these gold rushes, This Hungry Earth Reddens Under Snowclad Hills #1, aka THE RUSH #1, tells the story of a woman searching for her son.
Right from the start, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering acts as a great hook. This issue uses a variety of lettering styles to convey different tones, volumes, and types of speech, and they’re all amazing. Just like the best lettering, it blends into the background while you’re reading it, immersing you in the story and taking you on a ride. I have a special love for the captions, which have a great way of evoking the specific time in which the series is set.
The lettering has managed to capture not only the trappings of this time period, but also the feel, or at least a believable feel for somebody like me who knows relatively little about it. They’ve really succeeded at this, as it is a key part of the Western. Nathan Gooden is another key member of this team contributing to that aspect, as his art, while still feeling modern, has an undeniable historical vibe to it.
Addison Duke’s colours also add a nice touch to this series. He manages to do a great job with the oranges and the reds of the lanterns and campfires present throughout the issue. It makes for a great contrast with the cool blue of the snow. The colours elevate the artwork from being just good, to being great.
On the other hand, there’s this book’s horror element. The book’s silhouetted monster, The Pale, feels like an afterthought at times, added in simply so that readers don’t forget about it. While it may not make sense to make The Pale a major part of the story from the beginning, and while it is nice to have it show up here to help build anticipation for the rest of the series, I already feel like I’ve lost a bit of the sense of mystery I was expecting to have with it.
Which is a shame, because the character that The Pale tails is already one of my favourite current characters in indie comics. Nettie Bridger just wants one thing more than anything else, and that’s to find her son. Her drive and worry for him is palpable; the letters that she writes for him, not knowing where he is or how to get them to him, are heartfelt. She’s the strongest part of this narrative, and as Si Spurrier tends to excel at writing characters I’m not surprised that she is. Gooden also is a key part of making her so relatable, as his art does a great job with the key bits of acting.
All in all, I really liked THE RUSH #1. I had a great time with it, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Nettie’s journey in the Yukon progresses in the coming months. This is another great #1 from Vault, and I think it’s worth at least a browse if you like Westerns, horror, or both.