• Harrow County #23

    Harrow County #23
    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: May 10th, 2017.
    Written by: Cullen Bunn
    Illustrated by: Tyler Crook
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    Issue #23 starts off in a rundown old cemetery where a handful of people are listening to the town preacher eulogize Lady Lovey. The preacher asks the attendees why they’re here – Lovey scared people, she was not beloved by the townsfolk. He speculates, out loud, that they’re there to make sure he buries her properly… so that she doesn’t come back. He says that they won’t ever truly be rid of her as long as she is mourned. Some of those in attendance look at Bernice, knowingly.

    With the funeral over, one man even spits on Lovey’s grave. Bernice sees this and opens her mouth, she wants the people to know the truth, that they were wrong about Lady Lovey. No one except for Emmy listens to her. As the crowd heads out of the cemetery, a woman screams – behind them are snakes, scores of them, and they’re moving quickly. Those snakes that Lovey kept in the mason jars in her basement, as a way of protecting the people, they’re free now that she’s passed and these cottonmouths are nasty, servants of the death witch Hester Beck. Emmy tries to cast them out but her powers don’t work on them. Bernice gets physical, grabbing them and kicking them and trying her damnedest to get rid of the fowl things.

    Just then, a horde of dragonflies arrives. In Harrow County dragonflies are referred to as ‘snake doctors’ because if you see a dragonfly then it’s a sure sign that a snake is nearby. Emmy is able to summon all of the dragonflies out of the woods nearby and send them away – the snakes have no choice but to follow. It’s a temporary fix but it’s better than nothing. Bernice knows that the snakes will be back with Lovey gone. Lovey was trying to protect the townsfolk from the haints and from Emmy herself – the tension between these two possibly former friends is pretty thick.

    Bernice, suspicious that her one time best friend had something to do with Lovey’s death, heads through the woods to her late mentor’s rundown cabin. When she arrives she finds a few of the older townsfolk there to pay their respects. Not everyone thought Lovey was a witch after all. Nearby in the woods, Emmy talks to the haints, she wants to know the truth about what happened to Lovey while Bernice enters the old home and finds a woman waiting for her.

    The inevitable conflict that will happen between Emmy and Bernice seems to be escalating pretty quickly at this point in the storyline, even more so by the time we get to the last few pages of this issue. Cullen Bunn’s story is well paced, starting off with a fairly somber, dark funeral sequence that soon gives way to the horror that arrives with the onslaught of cottonmouths. It’s a striking sequence, you don’t see it coming. Once it’s resolved, at least temporarily, we get back to the character development that makes this book so compelling each and every month. We learn, through Emmy’s talks with Bernice and Bernice’s talks with those paying respects at the cabin and the woman waiting inside for her, that while Lovey may be gone this is far from over. Tyler Crook’s artwork is as impressive here as it’s ever been, with fantastic use of color and lots of interesting detail. The snakes are illustrated in such a way as to make them seem genuinely threatening and little things, like the look on the face of the preacher when he realizes that there’s a cottonmouth approaching him from behind, help add to the tone of the book in a big way.

    This issue also contains a Tales Of Harrow County one pager entitled The Possum Lady by Chris Schweizer. All in all, another excellent chapter in one of the best comics out there these days.