Rating: 4.5/5 – I Can’t Wait to Go Back to Harrow County.
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed the first issue of Harrow County. It’s not that I doubted the creative team, but after reading a lot of horror comics recently including Wytches, Outcast and more, I wasn’t sure that this series would stand out amongst the rest. But it most certainly does. Harrow County, written by Cullen Bunn and drawn and colored by Tyler Crook pushes the horror just enough to make it unsettling. The scares never rely on violence or shock, instead it grounds it in a small town setting and a young teenage girl named Emmy.
When we first visit Harrow County we’re thrown into the past and a group of townsfolk burning the body of a young woman. Right from the start with that powerful opening we’re treated to the visuals of Tyler Crook who’s first page of panels sucked me right into the world. I haven’t seen too much of Crook’s art before, but he’s done a lot of work on B.P.R.D. and the fantastic Petrograd. In Harrow County he uses an almost painted style that gives it that old and rustic feeling, much like the time that Harrow County is set in. The opening credits page is a wonderful example as a large and foreboding tree sits in the foreground of a rainy landscape as the title Harrow County is “brushed” away in the gloomy sky. Crook’s colors are lovely in the farm like setting, while dark and muddy when the more horrific elements come into play. He’s a little heavy on the reds in the character’s faces at times, so much so that the blush in the cheeks looks like blood, but that’s the only complaint I have with what’s overall a beautiful package.
Cullen Bunn whose Sixth Gun I’ve followed since the beginning, tells a story that feels much more real despite the supernatural elements. When we meet Emmy, she’s staring out her window at that creepy tree mentioned above. As she describes it, we start to sense that there’s something more to her and her connection to the history and dark past of Harrow County. Bunn slows the pace down after the impactful opening allowing us as the reader to get to know Emmy, and see the world of innocence she lives within. That slow build up is a perfect choice for the story and again, matches the subtlety of the horror. Bunn and artist Owen Gieni also tell a one page “Tale of Harrow County” after the end of the main story that allows Bunn and future artists to dive into the background of Harrow County. It’s a great way to add depth and history to this world, and I’m looking forward to more of these after seeing Gieni’s amazing pencils.
Over the course of the issue we see the connection between Emmy and what’s come before and although it seems predictable, that never took away from my overall enjoyment. Emmy is a character that seems to have a journey ahead of her that will change not only her world, but the town of Harrow County once again. Bunn and Crook are giving us horror that feels real because of the writing and art together. There’s a few panels and pages that will stay with me until my next visit to Harrow County, and although there’s horrors ahead, I can’t wait to return!
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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