Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Letters/Art: Tyler Crook
Backup Story Art: Owen Gieni
Witches, ghouls and ghosts have become more and more popular antagonists within the last year or so, with titles such as Wytches, Afterlife with Archie, Sabrina, Ghosted, etc. If used correctly, these supernatural entities can come off quite terrifying, and Harrow County, published by the increasingly out of the box Dark Horse Comics, absolutely uses them correctly. This series is written by Cullen Bunn, who continues to use his incredible mythos building style. Bunn consistently has proven that he is a professional at making worlds and creating rich histories for those worlds, examples of which can be found most recently in Sixth Gun, Wolf Moon, Empty Man, and even Terrible Lizard! His writing is joined by Tyler Crook, who is nooooo stranger to the supernatural genre, having given his strong talents to various BPRD titles, Witchfinder, and numerous other series. His art consistently questions what is lurking in the darkness, and that's just great. Check out more of his art at http://www.mrcrook.com/.
This first issue introduces the readers to Emmy, a young lady plagued by fears and nightmares. However, much more than that, the reader is introduced to Harrow County, a land that has had a bloodied, pagan past. This past was mostly rooted in the local witch, Hester Beck, and the horrors she brought down on Harrow County. Emphasis on the word "had". Quickly dispatched early on in the book, Hester Beck's dark influence on the town seems to have faded... but Emmy finds that her dreams are getting more and more vivid and events she is witnessing continue to grow in terror and absurdity. It is clear that the story is more than just witches, as other creatures are hinted at residing in Harrow County... each one bound to spook the reader. (Sounds fun to me.)
Bunn is incredible at world building. Truly. He has been displaying this talent for years and Harrow County is a shining example of how great he has become at it. The story tells a short but comprehensive chapter in Harrow County's dealings with the supernatural. As the series goes on it is going to include shorts with tales showing even more of the sinister past of Hester Beck and the town as a whole. Outside of the history, Bunn also gives characters a voice showing that they want to move on, but the roots of past events run too deep to simply forget. The older characters are in complete contrast to the innocence and naivete of the younger cast, providing a feeling that there is a secret past between the generations of the community. Lastly I would like to mention the narratives present throughout the issue. The dialogue used in these text boxes was carefully chosen for a sense that there is an even larger plan in motion, and far more eeriness on the way, but in the form of a fable.
Crook uses gory visuals to not only show us the events which have transpired, but to also give us a glimpse into what sort of horrors are headed our way. We see a full range of atmospheres in this issue, ranging from fearful to peaceful to beautiful to just plain weird, each with it's own unique color palette which gently shifts into the next. Regardless of the tone, every environment and character model seems to have a filter of whimsy over them, adding to the fable-like storytelling. The distinction in age between the characters is also made to be quite important, with the older characters having a look of worn out, pained experience. However they have a carefully drawn look of hope when they look at their children, who have a calm but neverending curiosity, as shown with their actions. Also, man oh man, I won't say what it is, but there is one moment that Crook draws that sends a shiver down your spine GUARANTEED. Then you think you're good, look again, and are immediately met with another sharp shiver. Real quick I would like to mention Gieni's one page back up, which is similar to Crook's style in many ways, however it is just different enough for a distinction between the stories. It provides more details about Harrow County, and it... is... good!
Harrow County grabs you by the eyes as well as by the gut and creates true terror, as well as a history about a small southern town that I can't wait to learn more of. The characters are all written with great dialogue and drawn with such talent that this is bound to be a staple in Dark Horse's library of hits. Bunn and Crook are a great team, and their partnership guarantees the readers a great experience. The first issue of Harrow County came out on 5/13 for $3.99! Get you some!