After last month’s chilling cliffhanger, Harrow County returns to see if Bernice and Emmy will survive their graveyard encounter. Is it good?
Harrow County #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
In most cases, being surrounded by a horde of flaming ghosts (graveyard or not) is a dangerous situation to be in. The same holds true for Emmy and Bernice, but not because of their fiery new friends. Turns out it’s her family Emmy be worried about more than anything (for now).
While all this is going on, Bernice is understandably freaking out a bit. Discovering that your friend might be a witch is bad enough. But when you add in flame ghosts (who obey your friend’s commands), a talking skin, a skinless monster, and your friend’s dad vacillating between grief-stricken and homicidal, it’s pretty impressive that Bernice doesn’t run away screaming. In fact, she ends up proving herself to be a much better friend than Emmy even realized.
This is the point where most monster/witch stories delve into the whole ‘People are the REAL monsters’ trope. Writer Cullen Bunn definitely touches on that aspect, but he uses yet another great cliffhanger to reveal that there are other evil forces lurking in Harrow County that are much darker than anything we’ve seen before.
Is It Good?
Hnnnggh! That last page! Hats off to artist Tyler Crook—not just for an awesome final image, but another stellar issue of work. He does the gore and monsters well, but the scene with Emmy’s father also demonstrates his wonderful ability to portray human expressions/emotions.
The monsters are definitely the star of this one, though. If you thought the flame ghosts were cool, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
…like when they all hold up sales packets and start trying to sell you Avon products!
I also love how Bunn takes the story beyond the expected family betrayal decision. Even if we didn’t know exactly what Emmy’s father would do, we knew the showdown was coming. Instead of stretching it out for another issue, he gives us an incredibly powerful moment that leads into something even scarier for the next chapter.
I also gotta say that these little one page stories at the end of each book have been fantastic. Not only is Owen Gieni’s art beautiful, but Bunn puts an amazing amount of terror and backstory into a very limited amount space. The vignettes are different enough to be separate from the main story while adding to it, as well.
If I had to pick anything about of the issue that I didn’t like, it’s how Bernice handles everything a little too well. She’s definitely scared, but I think most folks would have run away screaming and pissing their pants at three different points in the story (I sure would have).
Otherwise, the only mistake this book made is not coming out closer to Halloween. Hopefully the trade will, because Harrow County is a perfect fall horror tale. Bunn has carefully escalated the fear each issue, always giving the reader something scary while teasing something much worse hiding behind the door…and then he makes good on the threat.