In Review: Harrow County #10

It’s impossible not to squirm from the tension. Recommended.

The cover: Berenice is someplace she shouldn’t be. It’s a dark room whose contents are only visible because she has a candle to light her way. She looks at something a reader cannot see which sparks fear in her. If only she would look behind her, as there looks to be something closer that could cause her more harm: mason jars of all sizes on a shelf, and within each are glowing eyes like those of rats. Berenice is in a lot of danger. This frightful cover is by Tyler Crook and it creates the perfect amount of fear without any violent imagery. Overall grade: A+

The story: Uncle Early and young nephew Clinton have pulled off on the side of a road in the forest to go berry picking. Naturally Clinton’s having more fun playing than working. As he gives the boy a slight verbal nudge to get him to work, Early gets his thumb stuck on a thorn. Upset that the boy caused him to lose focus, the elder man tells the boy to go off and play. The boy does so and comes across a snake in a bush. Pulling the boy back, Early sees it’s a cottonmouth. He tells Clinton to get him a shovel so he can kill the serpent, but when he ties to kill it something bad happens. Something very, very bad. A cottonmouth is poisonous, but this one packs something else besides venom. Cullen Bunn packs this story with a lot of unsettling moments. The reader know something is wrong with Early, but Bernice does not. The issue has her as the focus and she fits into the lead character’s position excellently. Bernice wants to help Clinton out, so she decides to find out what could be wrong with Uncle Early. Along the way there’s a story about a resident never before encountered and a place where no one, let alone teenage girls, should go alone. I was screaming at Bernice to get out of that location, but it may be too late. Guaranteed to send a shiver down your spine. Overall grade: A+

The art: Creating all the art and lettering is Tyler Crook. The issue begins with a gorgeous double-paged spread of Early and Clinton’s car parked next to the field where they’re gathering berries. And once again, Crook has found a fun way to place the title of this series in the image. The next two pages are just as beautiful, showing a spectacular green environment that seems as though it’s Eden rediscovered. The first instance of danger comes in the form of the snake, whose colors instantly designate it as something that doesn’t belong. The bottom panel of Page 7 is perfectly disturbing with Early’s reaction to being bitten and the blood that drizzles down the side of his head. The next three pages go idyllic with Emmy and Berenice enjoying their company. It’s enough to make one forget the opening sequence. Almost. The design of Berenice’s neighborhood is fantastic and I hope that more is shown of it, as well as the people who populate it. The first and fourth panel on Page 13 are enough to create shock in readers, but the flashback on 17 and 18 only magnify the inching terror and is bound to make many a reader squirm. I love the speech of the character in the final panel of 18, because that’s exactly what a reader should “hear”. The final two pages of the book are absolute horrors, not because they’re graphic, but because they will make anyone fidget nervously as one anticipates what could possibly happen. The final two panels of the issue are the perfect reactions and the size of the dialogue exactly what the moment demands. This is perfect tension! Overall grade: A+

Tales of Harrow County: This month’s tale, “The Butcher”, is written by Tyler Crook and illustrated by David Rubin. It focuses on a popular store owner and his wares. With a title like this, any reader knows it won’t end well. It’s not a subtle tale, but it’s not bad. Overall grade: B

The final line: If you think there aren’t any more horrors in Harrow County, you haven’t looked under the right bush. And be careful if you do, ‘cause it’ll bite you. It’s impossible not to squirm from the tension. Recommended. Overall grade: A

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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