For much of Harrow County so far, the narrative focus has been on Emmy. Which makes sense because the very origin of just about everyone in the book has to do with her connection to the witch whose acts continue to have long-reaching consequences. This arc seems to be intent on pulling the focus out in order to build on the idea that this place functions as a swampy hellmouth that draws the bad things to it by just existing. Whenever a story needs to build up a new series of big bads (I won’t just use Buffy slang here I swear) it can give the appearance of that most dreaded concept of in all of storytelling: filler. While I hesitate to call this issue all filler, no killer it didn’t leave quite the impact that Harrow County typically does. I did like having Bernice take the reins as our courageous lead for not only the change of pace but of setting too. Tyler Crook’s always spellbinding art had a chance to literally sparkle with the inclusion of a tidbit about the hollow Bernice comes from--a place where the dirt roads are strewn with shards of colored glass from an incident with the government long ago. I like to think Cullen Bunn included that anecdote primarily to see Crook pull it off. To me, it’s always been Tyler Crook’s art style that makes this book consistently worth the monthly investment. His deft hand with shadows and the ability to display even the subtlest emotion have always given Harrow County something visually arresting even when the story doesn’t quite hit the bullseye. At least not when it’s taken completely on its own.
This book works best in full arcs when the slithering agents of menace not only strike, but the victim feels the full consequences of the venom. Okay, I fully admit that with all the snakes in this issue it felt like they needed to be used as a metaphor in some way when discussing it. But thinking of the storytelling approach that Bunn has displayed in this series so far in such a fashion is actually not a bad way to go about it. We’ve heard the hiss, felt the slither and I hope the next issue gives us the bite that the final panel just didn’t deliver. I do have to wonder if part of the unimpressed feeling has anything to do with Bernice displaying her self-awareness toward the existence of characters such as her own grandfather. It’s exciting to watch forces of darkness and power face off but less so to see what they’re willing to do with the ultimate pawns as most of the people in the story aren’t even real despite their detailed memories and life stories. When motivations are revealed down the line in this arc, I hope that this chapter of the story feels as strong as the first two were. One merely okay issue doesn't change the fact that Harrow County is a well-crafted dark tale of a mystic community that will constantly have to fight to stay intact.
Harrow County #10 Writer: Cullen Bunn Artist: Tyler Crook Colorist: Tyler Crook Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/9/16 Format: Ongoing, Print/Digital