"Rise of the Harvester: Volume 2 – Con of the Dead" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by SST Publications
Written and illustrated by Steve McGinnis
2017, 60 Pages
The serial killer known as the Harvester continues his travels across the country, murdering everyone he comes into contact with. After an encounter with a train, he makes his way to a horror convention, turning a bunch of fanboys into cannon fodder. Armed with nothing but a sickle, the Harvester is ready to deliver gore the likes of which these horror fans have never seen.
In case you don’t remember the Harvester’s origin from the first graphic novel, which is literally all it is about, a fan dressed as the killer recounts the entire tale to a bouncer. This breaks some momentum, especially since it comes after an incredible kill by the Harvester on a train that kicks off the book. Everyone that comes in costume gets into the convention for half price and this weird, chubby guy has to explain his outfit because he came dressed as a real-life slasher and not a fictional one.
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Although the text-heavy retelling of the origin story is a little rough, this character comes back in spectacular fashion by the end of the book. It doesn’t quite justify his derailment of the story, but he’s worth including for the climax.
The kills get more and more elaborate in this second volume of Rise of the Harvester. There were quite a few moments that I audibly shouted while reading it because of writer / artist Steve McGinnis’ insane death scenes. Some of them are laugh-out-loud funny, like the one on the train that opens the book. Others are just plain creative, slicing and dicing people in unique ways that you don’t see in modern day horror movies at all, mostly because it would be way too expensive to shoot.
There’s a healthy dose of dark humor coursing through Rise of the Harvester. This comes through in the deaths too, especially with the permanent look of shock on the victims’ faces as they’re horrifically murdered. There’s something oddly satisfying about seeing some jerk, mouth agape and eyes wide as his face is literally sliced from his head.
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Rise of the Harvester is presented in black-and-white with a hefty use of red for all the blood. This makes the kills really pop off the page as the blood starts flowing more and more. It draws the eye to specific areas of gore and amplifies the violence.
Another exposition bomb is dropped about halfway through Con of the Dead. As with the first one, it’s a major momentum killer. The Harvester works like a traditional slasher, à la Jason Voorhees, so a hefty backstory is not entirely necessary. He’s a force of nature, raining chaos and bloodshed down upon anyone he sees, whether that’s a group of horror fans or an unlikely passerby. Rise of the Harvester is tailor made for fans of slasher movies.