Title: Harrow County.
Volume : 1.
Writer(s): Cullen Bunn.
Artist(s): Tyler Crook, Carla Speed McNeil (Issue #9) & Hannah Lavender (Issue #12).
Colourist(s): Jenn Manley Lee (Issue #9).
Letterer(s): Tyler Crook.
Format: Paperback – Omnibus.
Release Date: January 26th 2021.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror.
My Overall Rating:
Imagine growing up with a stigma, being born right into a hostile environment, unable to demonstrate to the judgmental world around you that you are indeed different from what people expect from you. While your words don’t mean much to others, you can only hope that your actions can speak for themselves, can prove your intent, can reassure everyone around you that you’re not who they think you are. For one young woman, it is on one fateful night that she must come to terms with her stigma and look straight into the eyes of destiny. Time might be of the essence but it’s time for her to decide what she wants to do next. After all, if you are to be hunted out of fear, why not use fear to reestablish peace. But how long can that last? Collecting the first half of the Eisner-nominated Dark Horse horror series (issues #1-16), the story presents a young lady’s journey of self-discovery as her county’s darkest horrors crawled to her feet and beg her for answers.
What is Harrow County Omnibus (Vol. 1) about? On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Emmy Crawford learns the truth behind who she is. Ever since she was little, she always felt like Harrow County had something to hide from her, something that hid in the darkness and only dared peek when everyone else was asleep. Whether it was ghosts or monsters was beyond her knowledge but things were about to change when she learned about her ties to a witch that was once hanged by the very people that she hung around with. Unfortunately for her, the folks she once always smiled to couldn’t let Emmy go on living happily ever after. A sacrifice needed to be made. The cycle needed to be repeated. It was up to Emmy to decide her fate now. Fight or flee?
“Not the end… Never the end for me… I’ll be back… again… Keep watch and be ready… Whether to tend or murder… But I’ll see you all once more!”— Cullen Bunn
This turned out to be a finely-paced young adult horror story that brilliantly captures Emmy’s dreadful journey towards finding a place in the world, especially in Harrow County, upon learning the truth behind who she truly is. Writer Cullen Bunn also rapidly establishes the story’s tone with the first couple of issues, right up to the grand reveal, and then aptly incorporates ghastly horror creatures into the narrative to allow the protagonist and the character’s from her entourage to discover, confront, and understand their raison d’être. From skinless children to goblins, the disturbing creatures of this county are numerous and they all bring their own fair share of enthralling creepiness. Several story arcs can also be noted, often constructed with the purpose to better grasp Emmy’s struggle to be perceived as someone good, while also brilliantly exploring her loneliness through confrontations with her friends and family.
Ignoring the anomalous artistic contribution by Carla Speed McNeil for issue #9 and Hannah Lavender for issue #12 that kills the visual consistency, artist Tyler Crook’s artwork is spellbinding. His watercolour is charmingly hypnotizing and conveys this world with authenticity and emotion. While the characters effortlessly showcase genuine fear, the creatures capture it through their ingenious design. Add in the splendid Southern setting that clearly hides secrets ready to be unearthed and you got yourself a fascinating world where the folkloric possibilities seem endless. Thankfully the story is solid and holds itself straight without much effort but the artwork alone could save this tale too. In fact, one could argue that it almost promises a full reading experience in itself with how much it conveys.
Harrow County Omnibus (Vol. 1) is an enthralling young adult horror tale exploring Emmy’s battle for a place in a world that does not welcome her.