In Review: Harrow County #2

This is wrong. This shouldn't be happening. But it happens all the time in Harrow County, with a vengeance.

The cover: Emmy’s running scared, carrying only a bag small with her — that’s got a tiny dangling hand waving her pursuers on. To her right are the locals who are out catch her, while to her left are flaming corpses. She’s running into a graveyard that’s glowing an ominous sick yellow. Behind her is the gigantic tree that stands on her property, though it now bears the face of witch Hester Beck, who swore she’d be back to seek vengeance on the people who immolated her. Several of these images appear in this issue, though none spoil any part of the story. Another winner from artist Tyler Crook. Overall grade: A+

The story: Horror can be told in many ways. It can be a shock, it can be graphic, or it can be so wrong with what reality should be it disturbs the reader. Cullen Bunn is absolutely doing the latter. The book begins with soon-to-be-eighteen Emmy, running through the forest telling the object in her arms to “Be still.” It’s the skin of a haint (a ghost) she encountered last issue, who abandoned its human skin. This haint was a young boy of about ten. This is a situation that screams something is horribly wrong with the natural order of the universe, but Bunn increases the reader’s discomfort by including this narration, “Folded up like the Sunday wash, the boy’s skin squirmed in Emmy’s arms. It wriggled and twitched like a wild thing trying to slip free. The boy’s skin felt feverish…and it was sweating. It was playing at being alive.” Our protagonist is going to take it home, but for what purpose is unknown. Possession of the haint does something to her and that night she has a dream, and then hears snippets of a conversation that have her leave her house in a hurry. Bunn continues to make Emmy eminently relatable to readers and completely sympathetic. Readers are experiencing all that she does, learning only what she hears, and what she hears isn’t good. The inclusion of an earlier character changes Emmy’s direction, ending up in a terrifying situation. Wow — was this good! “What Was Lost” is the one page story for another edition of Tales of Harrow County. It’s very disturbing with the final panel being a great creeper. Bunn also gets two pages titled Let’s Talk About Ghosts, and it’s a good piece that will leave readers fearful of distant structures, or even sitting around a campfire with Bunn. Overall grade: A+

The art: Doing every aspect of the visuals is Tyler Crook. There’s no advertisement on the inside cover, instead being the first page of a double-page splash. It’s a stunning introduction to the forest that Emmy’s running though with her prize. Her path is colored yellow and orange to show her the way, though the forest is dark as pitch in portions, with gnarly trees obscuring any view. A pair of birds and a snake watch her dash. Her face is scratched from her tussle through some brambles, but she carries her flesh colored prize happily. The addition of brown flecks to her blonde hair show her catch wasn’t easy. When she gets to her father’s farm it’s a picturesque setting, with crops turning amber and beautiful blue skies; all of which highlight the bloody scratches on her legs and face. The location where the haint is places is a rotting brown, which only adds to the perverse nature of the entity. The scarlet on Page 7 was shocking. 9 and 10 have such bright colors as to homage to the films of the 1960s and 70s where psychedelic colors were used to disquiet an audience.  The final page is a splash that has a wonderful crawling terror in orange and red. This is a beautifully terrible work. There are also two other pages by two other artists in this book. The first is a pin-up by Joelle Jones, showing Emmy holding a calf with that tree behind her. Nicely done, and resembles an animation style. There is also a one page Tales of Harrow County illustrated by Owen Gieni. In one page Gieni expertly creates a haunting setting with two terrifying creatures. Overall grade: A+

The lettering: Tyler Crook is also the letterer of this book and he provides narration and dialogue (same font), sounds, and a breathy dialogue. It’s the last one that will linger in reader’s minds, with the final page’s dialogue being wonderfully eerie. Overall grade: A 

The final line: This is wrong. This shouldn’t be happening. But it happens all the time in Harrow County, with a vengeance. Last issue trees were frightening, now it’s dressers. I dare you to read this and not approach the one in your room cautiously. Highest possible recommendation. 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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