In Review: Harrow County #13

Always south of what's right is Harrow County. Recommended.

The cover: A black and white photograph is on the ground, surrounded by the leaves of fall. The picture shows Emmy posing with eight other individuals. It seems like the definition of family. However, the faces of the other eight characters have been burned/scratched off/disfigured so that their features cannot be seen. Are there more family members that the young girl is unaware of? A great tease of the things to come from internal artist Tyler Crook. Overall grade: A

The story: A double-paged spread shows a massive cornfield complete with scarecrows going as far as the eye can see. It’s accompanied by the following narration, “Some might say Harrow County was founded on unwholesome earth…” Clinton is walking by the fields when he hears a whistle coming from within. He stops and asks if someone is in there making the sound. He then wonders if the whistler is okay. He makes his way into the field, winding up before a scarecrow. The whistling resumes. “Whoever you are…Whoever’s out there…I’m sorry, but I can’t stay. I’m expected back–” and that’s when the trouble becomes evident. Cullen Bunn has this script of this tale go from scary, to funny, and then to the horrific. Bernice, who’s been the hero of the previous issues is joined by Emmy in the search of the young boy. The reason why Emmy comes along is a nice way to bridge her story with Bernice’s, and the physical reason remains a constant source of pleasure and chills. As the moment turns serious between the two girls there’s a moment of levity by one of them (Page 8, panel three), bringing a genuine laugh, though one character doesn’t find it funny. Having this pair work together is a neat way to show how both are aware of the supernatural elements of Harrow County, but even they don’t know everything. The terror in the cornfields is pretty creepy, but worse is Emmy’s effects on them when she tries to use her abilities. It was neat to see who stops the conflict, which ends in a graphic/not graphic way — it really depends on how the reader looks at the conclusion. The final page is a complete surprise, with whom they find and who is with this new character. Overall grade: A

The art: I’ve been in love with this book since its first issue, and one of my absolute joys is seeing how artist and colorist Tyler Crook is able to incorporate the title of this series onto the double-paged spread that opens each issue. This month it’s constructed by the stalks of corn in the field, and it’s disturbing. For all intents and purposes, this could be a whimsical illustration, but seeing the title of this series spelled out in the jagged stalks is just wrong. Naturally the scarecrows elicit some bad vibes, but having them in faded red tops makes the reader assume that they’re covered in blood. The shadow work done on Clinton as he’s in the field is terrific, with a slash of shade always across his face, reminding the reader of the sinister setting. Emmy and Bernice’s conversation before entering the cornfield is in complete opposition to Clinton’s scenes, since they’re wearing bright clothes and are in the sun. One bright color appears on Page 11 and that would be the moment where the reader will start talking to this book, telling the characters to get the hell out of there. Things become violent on 15, with the clash being exciting and terrifying. The color that first appears on 11 returns graphically, with it being sickening in the close up in the fourth panel on Page 16. The top of 18 concludes the fight and it’s outstanding that’s both disgusting and absolutely G-rated. “That” color again appears on the penultimate page, with it taking on motion with its use. The final page is a full paged splash, leaving the reader with more questions than answers, but how else would it be in this book? Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration, a whistle, dialogue, sounds, and yells are also created by Tyler Crook for this issue. Page 17 has some really cool sounds that would make Tipi Hedren squeal. One thing that Crook does often in this book is shrink the size of the characters’ speech when they have a quiet realization or they’re whispering something. This is a good way to pull the reader deeper into the story, perhaps putting the book closer to his or her face, only to have a good shock soon follow. Overall grade: A 

“Tales of Harrow County”: This one page story is actually not self contained, and continues into next issue. “The Butler” is written by Tyler Crook and features art by Brian Hurtt and Matt Kindt. This follows the life of a butler that works for Kammi before she went searching for Emmy. The butler is asked to do something that he never should have agreed to and pays the price, but there’s more to tell next month…I love the seeing a supporting character getting some focus and the art is beautiful, as are the colors. Overall grade: A

The final line: Always south of what’s right is Harrow County. Always a read that has you looking over your shoulder and keeping the lights on at night. Recommended. Overall grade: A

To find out about other Harrow County stories go to http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics

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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