In Review: Harrow County #24

Americana aberrations that are always recommended.

The cover: A flaming specter of Lovey Belfont graces the cover. By the look on her face she doesn’t look pleased with what the afterworld’s done for her. She hasn’t returned empty handed, as she carries a mason jar of a substance she looks poised to throw at someone beyond the borders of this image. A jump start of a cover from Tyler Crook that instantly catches the reader’s eye and tells them that something unnatural is happening in Harrow County. Again. Overall grade: A

The story: Bernice is holding a frog, pointing it at Emmy, as a bolt of lighting hits the ground before the girl. Frogs are also flying down during the downpour that follows. The wind blasts around Emmy, spinning frogs about, as Bernice continues her stance saying, “I’m sorry, Emmy! I really am! But you’ve gone and brought this on yourself!” Emmy has no idea what’s causing her friend to do this. She wants to talk with her, but a frog smacks her hand creating an ugly burn — Emmy could be immolated if enough frogs touch her. The haint that’s been Emmy’s companion since the first issue is safe in the bushes, growling at what’s occurring. The creatures that Priscilla are a part of are also present, with one leaping out of the foliage to eat one of the amphibians. Emmy yells at the creature to stop, but its mouth suddenly swells horrendously and begins to become a deformed red mass. Another lighting blast slams between the girls. The narrator states of Emmy “She could extinguish the life of her friend with a thought. To her horror, there was part of her that wanted to do so.” Emmy makes a fist. “She kept those dark desires tamped down…and the world around her groaned like old trees bending in the gale.” Cullen Bunn is the scripter on this issue that is painful to get through. Not because of the writing, because it’s a tragedy to see Emmy and Bernice using their abilities against each other. They’ve been the best of friends, and often they are the only ones in this series they can depend upon. To watch Bernice try to kill her friend is saddening. When Bernice speaks, condemningly of her friend, each word is painful to speak. It was neat to see Emmy’s friends try to take on Bernice and how Emmy responds to them doing so. The dialogue on Page 14 is like a knife to the reader, not just the characters. I admit to gasping to the actions on 15. Due to the cover image, this is no spoiler, but Lovey appears and the story takes a turn. The last three pages of the book have some familiar characters doing something terrible, resulting in the return of a character on the final page. With this character back in the book everything changes. This had me on the edge of my seat, leaving me wondering what horrors are now in store for the heroes. Overall grade: A

The art and lettering: Triple threat Tyler Crook is responsible for the art, the colors, and the lettering. The story begins with a double-paged spread of the lightning striking between the girls in the forest, with frogs and rain whirling about. Again, Crook has placed the book’s title in the artwork and it’s cool. The welts that the frogs leave on characters are absolutely gross, making these seemingly unimportant creatures suddenly a threat. The pain of the conflict comes through constantly on Emmy and Bernice’s faces, which has the horror around them constantly checked. The bottom two panels on Page 5 had me thinking that Emmy was going to release her full power upon her friend: this is remarkable given that only the close-up of an eye and fist are shown. Priscilla and her companions are terrifying in this issue, especially when they begin to turn. Color is key to what’s shown on 12, with that crimson catching the reader’s eye before Emmy is aware of it. The attack on 15 is the most vicious thing I’ve seen in a book in a while. There’s no blood shed, but the number of antagonists involved, as well as what they are, and how Crook sets up each panel is brutal. The lettering that ends that page is disturbing. The colors at the bottom of 16 foreshadow a character’s arrival marvelously. This is followed by a character crying in the rain, which is a trope, but it works excellently here. There’s a momentary spark of anger in one character that starts 19 and it reinforces the character’s age. The top of 20 is sad and beautiful. The browns used on the final two pages are disgusting, though they do define the blaspheme that’s being done. Crook continues to create beauty and horror on every page of this series. Overall grade: A

“The Devil’s Hoof Prints”: This is a short text piece by Ma’at Crook, retelling a story she was told by her father. It concerns a man named Elliott, who was well liked, but also fond of drink and racing his horse. Elliott comes in contact with an individual that will have an impact on him. I’ve heard this story before and Crook tells it well, with the addition of the bookends involving her father giving the story an extra punch. Overall grade: A

The final line: You can’t predict where this series will go. It could be beautiful or it could be horrific. No matter which, you can’t stop reading. Americana aberrations that are always recommended. Overall grade: A

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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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