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'The Crow knows who has been naughty.'

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The Crow: Hark the Herald #1 Review

‘The Crow knows who has been naughty.’

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The Crow gets a holiday special from Tim Seeley and Meredith Laxton that pits a new undead avenger against the people who ended her life one year ago.

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The concept of a group of killers seeking companionship at Christmastime is an interesting one, but in an interesting move, there’s next to no explanation for that plot line in the story itself until the final pages. That may be why a synopsis was provided on the title page of the book, just to make sure readers were on the same page. One wonders how the book would read without that little log-line at the top. Part of the appeal of these stories is to piece together the fragmented past of the characters as they rediscover it or reveal it to the reader, so it does feel like something may have been lost by giving us that explanation at the top.

'The Crow knows who has been naughty.'
IDW

Still, what is here works wonderfully, thanks to Tim Seeley’s concise scripting and Meredith Laxton’s artwork. The use of flashbacks is judicious and clever, showing the moments that lead up to the murders that set this all in motion. However, they also do a splendid job of fleshing out the father and daughter at the center of this story. The biggest worry with a one-shot like this is that there is limited space for proper character development, but by balancing the central character’s flashbacks with the villains’ arguments in the present, we get a decent sense of who many of these people are (or were).

There are, of course, a few of the villains who feel significantly less dimensional than the others, but that’s honestly to be expected in a story like this. There’s only so much that can be done with a limited page count and a body count that needs to be met.

And met it is. This survivalist version of the Crow is a great take, giving us a very clear look at how much this poor woman has changed since her untimely demise. The smiling, caring individual we see in the opening scenes and in flashbacks has been replaced by a cold and calculating hunter. Her traps are laid with precision and unlike many other versions of the Crow we’ve seen, there’s no enjoyment seen in her mission. She simply does what she came here to do. She wants them to be afraid.

'The Crow knows who has been naughty.'
IDW

Laxton makes wonderful use of the snowy forest, giving us stalking scenes that feel appropriately cramped, even in the vast mountain range where the story takes place. There are also clear variations in how the characters carry themselves, from body language to the way they fight (or can’t fight). Some of them are clearly more frightened than the others, unable to reckon with the thing that has come for them. The almost “porcelain doll” design of the Crow’s face in this is also a novel look.

Seeley structures the story in such a way that the ending may feel abrupt, but it’s truly the only way that this story could resolve. This issue likely doesn’t end the way you’d expect, but it’s a beautiful payoff to what we’ve seen from our central character. The nature of this series dictates that we probably won’t see this version of the title character again, but I’d love to see this creative team tackle this concept once more.

The Crow: Hark the Herald #1
Is it good?
This one-shot shows us a new take on the 'The Crow' that wonderfully blends the brutality and the sentimentality of the character in a way that suits the time of year.
For such a limited page count, we get a very good feel for many of the characters, particularly the Crow herself
The artwork is gorgeous and frightening, selling the idea of this Crow as a trained hunter
The ending feels cathartic in a way that is entirely unexpected
A few characters get short shrift, but they're also mainly there to give the Crow an obstacle
The central concept is interesting, but it almost feels like the logline at the top of the book spoils it a bit
7.5
Good
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