Sunday, 24 July 2016

Harrow County #4 - Dark Horse Comics

HARROW COUNTY No. 4, August 2015
Whilst undeniably proving to be a twenty-six page periodical which quite neatly ties up most of the plot-threads from the title's "Countless Haints" story-arc, Issue Four of "Harrow County" must surely have disappointed some of its 8,893 readers with the illogically contrived manner in which it does so. For having spent the best part of the lengthy narrative fearfully fleeing her Pa and fellow townspeople because “she knows we want her dead”, Emmy bizarrely returns to where the ‘lynch mob’ are congregating and supposedly convinces them to let her reside amongst them despite disintegrating three of their number when they murderously launch themselves upon the young witch; “I don’t want to hurt anyone… Not you… Not the other folks who live hereabouts.”

Admittedly Cullen Bunn does try and rationalise this arguably incongruous behaviour on behalf of his story’s main protagonist, by having Mister Sorrell illuminate her as to Hester Beck’s creation of men and women “from the mud” during a rather dialogue-heavy sedentary sequence. But the suggestion that the settlement’s local folk have been lead to their homicidal resolution by a number of cruelly misguided mud-people, who “genuinely believed Hester was a creature of evil” and “thought they would never truly be alive until their creator was dead”, is perturbingly far-fetched.

Fortunately, despite these reservations as to the teenager’s guileless behaviour, the Bram Stoker Award-nominee’s script does still contain plenty of “genuinely creepy and engaging” moments. The comic’s opening, within which Emmy faces a ferociously huge, multi-eyed black-furred demon in the woodland, provides a wonderfully tense confrontation that momentarily actually looks like being a rather fatal meeting for the flush-cheeked blonde. Whilst Mister Sorrell’s overly-friendly, bespectacled countenance proves as disturbing a characteristic for a child kidnapper as any Film Noir writer could wish for.     

Possibly somewhat fatigued by this edition’s extra page count, or perhaps because so much of the tale is confined to well-lit locations, Tyler Crook’s artwork also seems to be a little worse for wear towards the end of this comic book. The American artist’s initial pencils and water colours depicting the long-forgotten bull-horned forest-dwelling fiend are wonderfully detailed, as are the panels depicting the stark terror etched upon the fledgling witch’s face as she flees the monster’s furious assault. Yet some of his illustrations concerning the ruddy-faced child snatcher, the skinless haint, and Emmy’s badly battered father aren’t quite as well-realised as perhaps they would have been in previous issues…
Script: Cullen Bunn, Art and Lettering: Tyler Crook, and Publisher: Mike Richardson

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