Harrow County #21
Released by: Dark Horse Comics
Released on: March 8th, 2017.
Written by: Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by: Tyler Crook
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It’s late at night, Emmy is poking about the barn using a lantern to light her way. When she comes across a calf she’s named Shaky she can’t help but notice that the poor thing is trembling. Unsure of what has frightened the animal, she continues to look around. Some odd noises indicate that she might not be alone in there, and this is confirmed when she finds her creature friend Priscilla hiding in the rafters. When Emmy asks her why she was hiding Priscilla tells her that the humans have hired a ‘hunter’ to run her off.
Emmy requests that Priscilla show her what she’s talking about, but before they can do that she needs to grab something from inside the house. Priscilla waits outside with the lantern, and once Emmy returns they rush over to the Mefford Bros grain silo. There’s no one about but when they head inside they find bear traps set about with strange inscriptions carved into them. When they head outside again, all the other haints from around the woods are waiting there, and the skinless boy tells Emmy that they too believe they are being hunted. They draw her into the woods where one of their own has been murdered, but Priscilla notes that the victim was cruel, would pluck babies from their cribs.
Emmy starts to wonder if Kammi has anything to do with this but this conversation is cut short when Priscilla hears a scream and runs deeper into the woods. There they find her brothers caught in yet another set of snap traps. They set out to free them, but them Emmy realizes that these creatures were right all along – they’re not alone, and they have been watched.
A few interesting twists in this latest issue that simultaneously tie into the series’ past and look towards its future. In this issue Emmy is essentially a protector, if a somewhat unwitting one, coerced into looking out for the various haints she’s affiliated with out of obligation. She told the humans to leave them alone and figured that would be enough – clearly it wasn’t, as they’ve circumvented her and called on someone else to deal with the problem for them in her place. This will probably (definitely!) lead to some interesting conflict in the next issue (we’re not going to spoil the ending of this one) and it seems unlikely that this will end well for all parties, particularly as this ‘hunter’ would seem to have killed off one of the haints already. Bunn’s story in this issue works on a few levels – it’s tense and creepy in the same way that the best issues of Harrow County are based solely on the visuals and situations, but it’s adding yet another issue’s worth of solid continuity to the run and building character too.
Tyler Crooks art has been a huge selling point since the very first issue of this book and it’s just as good, if not better, now than it has ever bene. The guy’s just got a knack for creating truly haunting imagery but also at conjuring up some classic ‘Americana’ style folksy characters and settings that contrast with Bunn’s eternally dark scripting in wonderful ways. We’ve championed this book since the get go – and so long as the creative team keeps up this level of quality, that’s probably not going to change anytime soon. Harrow County is comic book storytelling at its best.