"Harrow County #23" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
2017, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on May 10th, 2017
Young Bernice is at a crossroads. One path has her friend Emmy, who has been by her side for as long as she can remember. The dynamic between them has changed a bit now that Emmy has developed her witch powers over the various creatures (aka haints) in Mason Hollow. The other path leads to powers of her own, however it forces her to diametrically oppose Emmy.
There’s a level of jealousy in Bernice. She’s seen firsthand what Emmy can do and now, based on her relationship with the now departed Old Lady Lovey, she has a chance to have similar abilities. Meanwhile, Emmy wants nothing more than to restore her friendship with Bernice. It’s something she cherishes and it’s been changed to the point where it may never go back to normal.
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While this drama between the two girls features fantastic character development, Harrow County never falls short of scares. This issue is no different. Old Lady Lovey’s funeral is invaded by a pack of cottonmouth snakes. They slither out of the woods and rampage over the wooden coffin, targeting the funeral attendees with intensity. If you are even remotely afraid of snakes, this issue is going to creep you out big time.
Artist Tyler Crook takes a creature that is unsettling on its own and amplifies the terror they can cause. It’s in their eyes. There are no pupils. Instead, there are just hollow yellow circles. This makes them appear like soulless entities out for nothing more than chaos. This coincides with their actual origins and makes them even more unsettling.
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Writer Cullen Bunn adds to this with the narration, linking the snakes to the Bible, specifically the book of Genesis. It makes them even scarier, like they’re an ancient force of evil and not just a garden variety snake.
I also want to point out how impressive it is that Tyler Crook finds new and interesting ways to show the title in the opening pages of every issue. I absolutely love this one with the letters of Harrow County splayed out between a number of gravestones. It creates an ominous mood from the jump that never goes away.
Harrow County delivers a consistent level of quality horror. The foreboding tone is constant. Scenes with happy moments are punctuated by an unshakable feeling of dread, like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.