Harrow County #19
Released by: Dark Horse Comics
Released on: December 28th, 2016.
Written by: Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by: Tyler Crook
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A gorgeous splash pages opens up this issue, showing Emmy sitting atop a hill looking out over the landscape. She utters a single word: “Amarylus.” She’s talking to the skin of the boy that lives in her saddle bag. She’s confused, because all this time she and everyone else thought she was Hester. The name sounds weird to her, she’s not used to it, but if she’s taking what Malachi told her as gospel then it must be true. And if it is true, then she is far more powerful than anyone could have possibly imagined – she could create her own reality. She thinks about this for a second, tempted by the idea of trying it, but decides against it.
She hears dogs barking from the woods nearby and heads in to investigate. She hears a gunshot and spies a hunting party. She’s not sure what they were hunting but as it is getting dark, they decide to gather up the dogs and head home – they don’t want to be in the woods at night.
Emmy heads home and talks to her pa on the way in. They talk about the hunters, not about what Malachi and the Abandoned told her. She talks pa into driving her to the ‘Red Barn’ where the local hunters gather. She tells him she just wanted to go for breakfast but really, she’s poking about trying to figure out what the hunters were after. She strikes up a conversation with one of the men from the woods, and the man’s nephew, Luke, takes Emmy out to show her the dogs. Away from the grownups, they talk – Emmy learns that these guys have come from out of town to kill the ‘monster’ that has been talked about, that roams the woods of Harrow County. Understandably, she’s none too happy about that but they insist.
The hunting party heads out to the woods, hoists their bait and wait. Luke tells the rest that Emmy warned them not to do this, but the older men pay him no mind. This won’t end well…
This is a good jumping on point for those new to the series as it allows Bunn, through Emmy’s internal narration and conversations with the skin boy, to essentially recap the fairly complex backstory involving Malachi and the Abandoned and also to quickly recap the connection to Hester. At the same time, Bunn advances the story nicely. We get some interesting interaction between Emmy and her pa, Isaac, and a bit of background on him through these scenes. Introducing the hunters was an interesting touch as it’s clearly going to have an effect on things to come, but so too does it serve to demonstrate Emmy’s reluctance to ‘play God’ now that she’s starting to figure out how powerful she really is.
After taking two issues off, original series artist Tyler Crook is back on board with the artwork. The fill in art from Carle Speed McNeil was great but Crook’s art is so perfect for this series that it’s nice to see him return. His art is as good here as it’s ever been and there are panels here that are both genuinely disturbing and legitimately beautiful – which really kind of sums up a lot of this book’s appeal when you think about it.
Closing out the issue proper are a few pages of letters that tell some great ghost stories, as well as a Tales Of Harrow County short written by Crook and illustrated by Aud Koch entitled Priscilla.