As the guardian of Harrow County, Emmy is not surprised that someone has come to ask for her help. But she is surprised that her visitor is a haint! Someone (or something) has been attacking Harrow County’s supernatural residents, and it’s up to Emmy to solve the mystery.
I mentioned in my article reviewing 2016, it is easy for comics readers to become distracted by all of the shiny, new titles being released every month and focus on these to the detriment of those ongoing comics which month after month provide fantastic entertainment. Harrow County is an exemplar of exactly this type of ongoing series. From its first issue, writer Cullen Bunn and artist Tyler Crook have expertly explored the horror genre through the story of Emmy, a young girl whose life is more complex than it first appears. Through a number of clever story arcs we have learnt Emmy’s story (usually at the same time she does) and have watched her grow into the powers granted by her unusual background. In Harrow County 21, Emmy’s newfound sense of identity is challenged as she is asked by the very creatures she has fought against for assistance. By flipping Emmy’s “mission” in this way, Bunn and Crook provide a different perspective on the relationships within the environment of Harrow County and thus a new look at Emmy’s role within them.
As always, Tyler Crook’s artwork is sublime; his water-coloured inspired backgrounds and portrait-styled characters invoke the nostalgia of a Norman Rockwell painting of “old America”. As a result, the flashes of violence and gore (drawn in the same style, just more harsh in its lines) shatter this idyll, making their horror more affecting. It’s always fun to see how Crook incorporates the title Harrow County into the first panel or splash page, which he does in an Eisner-inspired technique of making it part of the image itself.
Harrow County remains one of my favourite titles, drawing on Lovecraftian themes of horror lurking just below the surface of an idyllic rural setting and a misplaced sense of identity. In this issue, the first of a new story arc, these themes are set to be explored further, as our main character (well, characters, but I will not ruin the surprise here !) are given a new role to play. Read this issue and I guarantee you will be hooked – then go back and read the rest of the story to learn how Emmy became the character she now is !
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reviewer: Brett Harris