In Review: Harrow County #28

Bunn and Crook weave supernatural magic that will warm and break your heart.

The cover: For the horrors and suggestive terrors that Tyler Crook has created for this series, this cover is the most grotesque. An insane looking Kammi looks down upon the reader, her eyes wide and her teeth in a monstrous grin. From her nose down, her face is caked in blood which drips down her chin and onto her top. Blood stains her dress, splattered from the belly down. Behind her is a gnarly tree and, if a reader is careful, on either side of the trunk are several pairs of evil looking eyes. This cover makes me uncomfortable. However, I was enormously pleased with the quote in the upper left of the image, which, sadly, isn’t on the image accompanying this review. Overall grade: A+

The script: Cullen Bunn starts this issue off in shocking fashion. Emmy is telling the tale of what witch Hester did after killing Amaryllis: “…she broke with the ancient traditions. This was when she killed one of her own.” Hester coveted what her sister had, wanted her power. There was only one way to get it after she had been murdered. “And so she ignored yet another edict.” Hester reaches down, pulls a piece of Amaryllis’s exposed organs, and begins to eat it. “She partook of her sister’s flesh…” Having consumed the piece, Hester smiles and rips out a larger piece with both hands and begins to wolf it down. Doing so, she “claimed Amaryllis’s power as her own.” This tale is being told to Emmy to emphasize that she and Kammi don’t have to kill each other. The mad twin is having none of it. Kammi explains why she has caused Emmy and her friends such hell. Berenice watches the proceedings from a distance, while the sisters talk. It’s a frightening conversation, as Kammi is covered in blood and Emmy holds the empty skin of her haint in her arms. The sisters do fight, but begin to do so in an unconventional way, until one decides to change the tactics. The dialogue from Kammi is brutal. She’s without question one of the most disturbing villains of the modern comics era. Page 13 is the WOW moment of the book, where something unexpected appears and it’s wonderful and awful. The conclusion of the battle results in a one person making a declaration at the top of 17 that will change a group’s status in this series, while 19 holds the most awful reveal in this series’ run. Bunn and Crook have some terrible things happen in recent issues, but this…there’s no turning back from this. And if the reader has any chance of hope left in his or her heart for the protagonists, the last three pages show that the worst is yet to come. Damn, this is good. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Artist extraordinaire Tyler Crook is responsible for the art and the colors of this issue. He begins with another stunning double-paged splash that looks out from the derelict, barnacle covered ship onto Hester looking at the splattered body of Amaryllis. The interior of the ship is like the beaten corpse of a vessel, which is a great comparison to what’s occurring outside it. And I have to stand and applaud at the way Crook again inserts the series’ title into this image. Hester’s face isn’t clearly shown in any panel on Pages 3 and 4. Her hair covers her face, showing only her bulging eyes. When her mouth is shown, the eyes are not. These glimpses of the woman’s insanity are intense. The gore that Hester feeds upon is graphic as can be, but it’s nothing compared to the smile the witch flashes after tasting her sister’s flesh. Kammi begins the book on the ground, covered in blood. This paints her instantly as the villain, compared to her twin, who though not immaculate, looks considerably better. The smudged blood on Kammi is monstrous. She never makes a move to make herself neater; the life fluids are just another aspect of her character now. The top of Page 7 is a heartbreaker; I knew there would have to be some finality for this character, but this was sad. The actions on 9 were startling, as that kind of power hasn’t been shown before. The upright character on 11 is just too deliriously happy. The reveal on 13 is spectacular and the effects of this reveal awesome. As with the cover, this book has had Crook creating some of the most horrific images in comics, but Page 19 broke my heart. Yes, dialogue is spoken, but the visuals — and those colors — exploded upon me before I could read the text. Wow. The second and fourth panels on 20 are perfect in their sadness. Overall grade: A+

The lettering: Tyler Crook is also responsible for the book’s text which includes dialogue, sounds of pleasure, sounds, whispers, groans of pain, and the final character’s unique speech. The dialogue is large enough to read, but not so big as to draw attention from the visuals. The sounds are huge, because there’s some huge action in this issue. But it’s the whispers that will be memorable. They’re given when someone achieves the unthinkable, when someone says something on 15 (!!!), when someone makes a decision, and someone says a name. Wow. I also enjoy the unique speech font of the final two pages, making the speaker inhuman. Crook is as talented a letterer as he is an artist. Overall grade: A+

“Tales of Harrow County”: This one paged story features script by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein and art by Christianne Goudreau. The story begins innocuously enough, with Joan receiving the first radio in Harrow County. In fact, it’s a batteryless receiver. What could possibly go wrong? Take a look at the tiny detail above the middle dial to get a hint of trouble. The story has a neat twist and the visuals make the proceedings seem completely innocent until it’s too late. Nice. Overall grade: A

Pinup: Emmy gets some focus in an illustration by Peter Huestis. Don’t look too deeply into this image to find the antagonist. She’s there, and she’s not alone. A neat surprise that’s extremely colorful. This is a perfect portrait of the killer. Overall grade: A+ 

The final line: Bunn and Crook weave supernatural magic that will warm and break your heart. This is as perfect as horror gets. Highest possible recommendation. 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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