Harrow County #1
With a good ol’ fashioned country town hanging, Harrow County introduces us to a new southern gothic fairy tale from Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook.
In a prologue of sorts, we witness the graphic beginnings of this end. Hester Beck, a witch whom had originally been a healer for the town, was shot, stabbed, beaten, hung, and finally set alight before cursing the townspeople and promising to see them again someday. Her rituals and sacrifices could no longer be ignored and they forced her to pay the ultimate price.
Sometime after this, we’re introduced to Emmy – a young farm girl with mysterious dreams. She’s frightened and afraid of the old tree on her farm land, the very same that Hester Beck was hung from, but she does her best to ignore those feelings.
Later, she and her father find a near-dead calf that seemingly is healed after Emmy puts her hands on it. But that’s only just the start, a walk through the woods introduces Emmy to another horror that I won’t spoil. Suffice it to say, this comic book lives up to the haunting feeling it instills upon reading.
The Tales of Harrow County page at the end really opens up Harrow County to the bigger picture with its mini-story. I like the potential it has to draw the reader further into the setting and show how Emmy’s strange experiences may be intertwined with others throughout – or not at all, who knows. We’ll have to keep reading to find out.
An omniscient narrator helps to set the pacing and tone of the first issue, where dialogue is sparse, and manages to pack a lot of feeling into a few pages. This choice serves to provide the reader with a glimpse into Emmy’s personality, while still preserving her youthful innocence in this situation, lending to the fairy tale vibe. We know something is off, but this could be all Emmy has ever known to be true.
Tyler Crook does an amazing job with the artwork of the first issue, the water color panels are worth pausing to inspect closely. The subtleties of things like ‘Harrow County’ reflected in the early morning dawn over the farm house are worth looking at a second time. The muted, almost pastel, and dust bowl colors that Crook uses set the tone for the more horrifying elements to pop with bright reds and yellows.
Harrow County sets up an intriguing story, where readers can’t be entirely sure that Emmy is good or bad yet. How is she bound to Hester Beck? Does Hester Beck have anything to do with this at all? It would seem that Emmy’s father was there at the hanging and may be deliberately obtuse to the strange occurrences on his farm and with his daughter.
I’m interested to see Emmy’s development, what warnings and power she might discover as the story progresses, and how she immediately handles the shocking ending to issue one. This is an intriguing story that sees simplistic at first glance, but good comic stories rarely stick to what the readers expect. Pick up Harrow County #1 for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments!