This is one of those reviews where I struggled with the right way to explain the book. And I mean that in only the most flattering ways. For Harrow County, Cullen Bunn culled together a magical tale of powerful beings with dark and haunting secrets. Issue 15 incorporates elements of horror, fantasy, and Southern Gothic into one powerful tale.
Emmy receives news of her powers from a strange visitor who informs the young woman that others with similar abilities exist in the world. From the stranger Emmy hears more of the past events that led to the founding of Harrow County. Additional instruction reveals the nature of Emmy’s powers, but also the terrible price that will need to be paid in order for her to exist.
There are so many excellent points about Harrow County to be explored, but I will focus on the books core strengths. First, Cullen Bunn understands how to incorporate illustrations to complement the text. As the stranger relates to Emmy the other members of the family, Tyler Crook fills in details with his illustrations. I don’t know why, but this is such a rare talent in comics today. So much is said through the pictures that Bunn does not need to saturate the pages with text.
Second, the narrative plays off with fluidity despite its complexity. We have flashbacks, narration, explication, and more. All of it reads like a William Faulkner novel. Yet the themes of the story come through with a brilliant simplicity.
Next, I find the cast of characters engrossing. Emmy, like many characters, seeks to learn more of her powers and origin. The strange family reminds me of the vampires in Near Dark, a mismatched brood of beings that hold powers so great that all others are pawns to them.
Tyler Crook’s illustrations have a watercolor feel to them that give a dreamy, fairy tale mood to the book. As with all original fairy tales, a dark turn lies in store for its cast. Best of all, the distinctiveness of the art style stands out.
Finally, the book ends with a cliffhanger that compels the readers to continue. The very nature of the climax concerns Emmy and her world. The revelation may be true or it may be a threat from the outsiders. Either way, the main character will face consequences and will be changed in grave ways.
After Eric Powell finished his run on The Goon, I thought I would not be able to find a book so literary in its execution. Harrow County just changed my mind.
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Harrow County #15 Writer: Cullen Bunn Artist: Tyler Crook Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; digital, print [/su_box]