"Harrow County #29" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on March 21st, 2018
A lot has been going on in Harrow County lately. Emmy just won a hard-fought battle against her twin, Kammi, forcing her to go farther than she’s ever gone, getting way too close to darkness. Her hands are still bloody from the fight as she picks up the remains of the skinless boy and begins to mourn his loss. Meanwhile, the evil witch Hester has returned and she’s about to make a big, bloody mark on Harrow County.
Emmy’s story opens up Harrow County #29 and it serves as a perfect epilogue to the events of the last issue. The skinless boy has been a creepy companion throughout the series to date, so his death hits hard. Emmy uses her abilities to give him a fitting burial where she first found him that will hit your right in the feels. It’s such a touching sequence that culminates in a gorgeous panel from artist Tyler Crook as the ghost of the boy looks back at Emmy one last time before going on to his next life. I want to cry just thinking about it.
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This is a tough loss for Emmy because she knows that there’s a battle coming. She can use all the help she can get and she just lost one of her most reliable soldiers. Emmy will have to come to terms with the dark forces at play if she’s going to survive. You can see this tortured look on her face as she tries to stay strong as she mourns.
Hester’s story is brutal and pulls no punches. Her very appearance is sickening with pale, diseased flesh, mad eyes, greasy hair, and a filthy dress. A noose hangs around her neck. Up until this point, we’ve really only seen her work and heard stories of her past actions, heinous as they were. Here she’s on full display, providing examples for why she has been so feared from her own family, as well as everyone around her. This is a monster through and through.
Crook’s colors for this are earthy, bringing tones of the dead and the ground that holds them. This changes quickly once Hester lashes out, splattering red all over the page in a violent and shocking burst. It’s like a switch is flipped and there’s no going back.
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The gore that follows is unsettling and will make even the strongest among us cringe. The way the flesh just kind of hangs there is sure to stay with you for some time. The blood flows freely, yet its placement is very specific. You’ll know what I mean when you see the sequence in question and where the blood drips land. It’s a great bit of symbolism.
Speaking of symbolism, there’s a nice sequence involving reflection that really stands out. For a moment, Emmy sees Kammi looking back at her when she looks into a river. This terrifies her, as she’s fearful of what she may become. Contrast this with Hester, who walks by a mirror revealing a decaying corpse that’s somehow more frightening than her actual physical appearance.
Harrow County has become a gold standard for horror comics. With news that the series will be ending soon, I can only imagine what writer Cullen Bunn has in store for a finale. If the story up until now is any indication, we’re in for a treat.