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Advance Review: Harrow County #1

Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor

If you thought a bullet, blade, noose, and fire could kill a witch, you would be wrong.

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Illustrator: Tyler Crook

Harrow County has a bit of a witch problem. Not many, but just the one named Hester Beck. At first, the townspeople did not mind her presence. Being a gifted healer, she was useful, and they turned a blind eye to all the strange and telling incidents that happened around her. However, such tolerance could last for only so long. Horrified by what they discover about her, the townspeople put the witch to death. While the deed was done, they knew in their heart of hearts that it wasn’t really the end, and there would be a reckoning for their sins.

Fast-forward into the future and readers are introduced to Emmy, a young girl coming close to eighteen. She is afraid of a tree that sits a distance outside her bedroom window; the same tree the witch was hung from. However, Emmy doesn’t know about the witch, nor does she know about her connection to the supernatural. What kind of powers she possesses and how is part of the mystery, but this is one horror story that will absolutely make your skin crawl.

Harrow County #1 is truly terrifying. The opening pages will instantly captivate readers, pulling them into a world of discomfort, fear, and sin. Within the first page, an omniscient narrator describes Hester Beck as the townspeople’s “neighbor… and at times… a friend.” Such a simple statement is frightening, because killing a person is one thing, but killing someone they may have deemed a friend at one point—regardless of bizarre behavior and potential wickedness—is another. The use of the term “friend” therefore raises deeper questions of morality, for how will a town come to terms with what they have done? Was Hester truly evil, or did the townspeople engage in something far worse? The imagery of her judgment is very reminiscent of Hester Prynne from The Scarlett Letter, although that may be a coincidence.

Despite the direction the story may be heading, the opening pages capture the tone set out by writer Cullen Bunn and accentuated by artist Tyler Crook. There is an air of uneasiness and unrest, which seeps into Emmy’s present. In fact, our first glimpse of Emmy is one of a frightened child who is haunted by nightmares. Even in brief moments of levity, there are underlying hints of doubt. Still, the comic is not all about fear and retribution. It’s also a story about innocence and growing up, one that will be interesting to see unfold in a town so ominous.

Crook’s illustrations are beautiful and alluring in the most unsettling way. He takes a droll, countryside town and turns it on its head with his perfectly blended watercolors. It is unique, with some pages slightly mirroring that of a canvas painting. He is able to instill in readers both the terror that comes with a suffocating, small farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, and the wonder and adventure that comes with a vast countryside full of never ending fields and woods. There is no one better to bring Bunn’s script to life! Check out Crook penciling a two-page spread below:



Harrow County #1 is out on May 13 and published by Dark Horse Comics. I recommend you reserve your copy today.

5.0 out of 5.0