In Review: Harrow County #25

You don't know horror until you've read Harrow County.

The cover: The evil Kammi is being held underground by a corpse and several roots. The dead person has its mouth open in an unheard scream as it keeps the villainous woman in place, while Kammi looks as if she slumbers in pain deep in the dark, hellish ground. Once again artist Tyler Crook uses the opening image of this issue to be the frontpiece. Even if one is unfamiliar with this title, and shame on you if you are, this image will compel the reader to open the book to see what put the young woman in this position and how she can escape it. Long time readers know that if she does escape, Harrow County is doomed. Overall grade: A+

The story: Kammi doesn’t know how long she’s been “banished ‘neath the earth…buried liked the fragments of a shattered mirror.” She suddenly opens her eyes and sees the figure holding her close. She pushes back in horror on the body and begins to claw her way upwards. A calling comes upon her “…a beacon guiding her back to the surface.” “How long?” continuously echoes through her mind as her hands make their way to the light. The narrator states, “Long enough that a hunger for a cruel and bloody vengeance had rooted deep in her heart. And while this was the world of the living, not the dead…she would turn Harrow into Hell before she was through.” This frightening opening then turns to Emmy urging Bernice to hurry in gathering supplies. Emmy has a feeling she knows what her family is up to and it worries her. Bernice tries to comfort her friend, but Emmy just knows something bad is happening. There’s a quick recounting of Hester Beck and Emmy’s joined past and how Emmy and her father had a terrible moment before she met her sister, Kammi. The two young girls, along with two familiar allies, finally trek into the forest to find another ally, just as the scene shifts to the family telling Kammi why they called her back. On Page 16 something appears before Emmy to create some tension, delaying her from where she wishes to go. It’s where she’s headed that something terrible occurs. The final seven pages contain one of the most horrific scenes I’ve encountered in any book this year. It had to happen, but it still makes me cringe, even as I’m writing this review. You don’t know horror until you’ve read Harrow County. Cullen Bunn, I love you and hate you for this. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Tyler Crook is responsible for the art and the coloring on this book. The issue begins in darkness on Page 1, with a tease of root tendrils pulling the reader’s eye to the right where a tiny Kammi is shown in death’s embrace, covered in roots that spell out this book’s title. It’s beyond creepy. I like that the roots that spell out Harrow County are in a bright yellow. Kammi’s hair and blouse are good colors to contrast against all the blacks and browns that have swallowed her. Her hands at the bottom of 4 are outstanding with how they look and how they are colored. The silhouettes that she sees in the final panel are deliciously teased in blues. Emmy’s hair and Bernice’s dress make them good sources of focus in yellow, giving them an optimistic tone, even as they discuss so many horrors. Pages 6 and 7 are nice parallels, with the first and last panels on each page focusing on the girls, while the three in the middle of each are flashbacks. The second panel on Page 9 has Kammi getting a brilliant, powerful outline in blue to show her power and anger against those of the family. The top of 11 has a four panel sequence that contains a great transformation, with the ending smile being completely evil. I continue to be wowed by the design of the character that appears on 13 and this individual’s close-ups are wonderful. Page 16 has only one word of dialogue, allowing the art to tell what’s transpiring and Crook makes the mood absolutely urgent. As with the story, the final seven pages are flawless, but terrible. Crook uses a nine panel layout on two of the pages to make the action fast paced. It is, though what he renders breaks my heart. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I love and hate you too, Tyler Crook. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Narration and dialogue (the same font), a moan from a bag, sounds, a character’s unique speech, yells, a horrific speech for a character introduced on Page 18, a song, and weakened speech comprise Tyler Crook’s contributions for this element. The pair of characters that have unique speech is a terrific visual way to show the reader that these individuals don’t sound like humans. This makes them even more fantastical and separates them completely from the others in this issue. The sounds are neat, with those at the bottom of 11 sounding like a countdown clock, while those in the final pages are heartbreaking. It’s the weakened speech at the end of the book that’s the real gut punch. Overall grade: A+

The one page story: “Granddad’s Rocking Chair” is a short one page story by Ma’at Crook. This is about a heroic family member with a decent twist at its end. It’s enjoyable, but too short to have the impact it desires. The final paragraph needed to be expanded to increase the horror. The postscript also takes a lot of punch out of the finale. I would have liked to see this lengthened. Overall grade: B

The final line: I love and hate the creators of this issue for having something absolutely horrific occur in the final pages. It had to happen, but that doesn’t mean I have to welcome it. Things are taking a decidedly darker direction in Harrow County. This is going to get messy. Overall grade: A

To purchase a print copy go to https://www.tfaw.com/Comics/Profile/Harrow-County-26___548298?utm_source=darkhorse&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=darkhorse_buy&utm_term=buy+Harrow+County+%2326

To purchase a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/d2f788be567f4ac99ca281f4e6ba567d/harrow-county-26

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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