Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 05/13/2015
Harrow County has all the ingredients required for a memorable and chilling horror story right in the first issue. While some might know Cullen Bunn from “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe,” his background actually includes a variety of shock and suspense both inside and outside of the comic book medium. This is something that is evident immediately and throughout the work, as Bunn sets the stage for something that will no doubt remain at the top of my “must read” list for the foreseeable future.
The narration in Harrow County is immediately striking and at the same time familiar. Its wording seems to harken back to an almost Lovecraftian style in the way it dances around real descriptions in favor of half-allusions and cryptic suggestions. The difference is, however, that this work is also illustrated, and the pairing of images with the imagination-bait narration creates an intriguing flow. The juxtaposition in the opening segment of the comic –a flashback that lays the foundation for what frightening things are to come –creates the sensation that the reader is being told a glazed-over version of the truth while simultaneously seeing the unspoken details that the narrator is trying their best not to mention.
The plot presented in the first issue is fairly classic, if a little unoriginal so far. Good people were forced to make a hard decision and now lie anxiously in wait to see what repercussions might be coming for them years down the line. And, just as in most stories like this one, it is the innocent, the younger generation, that are most immediately affected. However, it is the additional details of the story that leave the reader feeling that there is going to be more to things than a simple “vengeful spirit taking its anger out on the elders of the village that ‘wronged’ it” shtick. There are just enough curiosities for the reader to know that they may have some things figured out, but they do not have everything figured out.
The art in this story initially comes off as counter-intuitive to the genre. The cartoon-ish nature that Tyler Crook gives the work doesn’t seem compatible with “fear.” Soon, though, the innocence in the faces of the simply-drawn townsfolk becomes more unsettling than gritty, detail-laden art could ever hope to be. It causes the comic to take on a youthful simplicity, as though it is a story being told by or to a child. Harrow County #1 feels like a warning that is passed from person to person in a hushed and nervous voice.
All in all, I have nothing bad that I can think of to say about this first issue. I am greatly looking forward to what comes next, and there’s no chance that I’ll pass up an opportunity to recommend it to anyone who likes comics, horror, or breathing. It is a unique read, and a no-brainer purchase for anyone who likes their stories more unsettling than “scary.”