Emmy and Bernice have braved the corn field and located Clinton, but who is this strange man with him? Has Emmy actually found another member of her family?
Many people wonder how fear can be communicated through a comic book. According to Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook, it’s through a thick atmosphere of overwhelming dread and menace. In Harrow County there is always something unknown lurking in-between the panels, daring you to imagine it. Always some, as yet undiscovered threat looming over our protagonist, biding its time to reveal itself. And in Harrow County, every question is answered with another question. If it sounds like I’m having a devilishly good time introducing this issue, it’s because Harrow County #14 is a devilishly good read. From start to finish this team is on top of their game, and I would expect nothing less of them after the bar they set back in issue #1.
Bunn really ratchets the creepiness up quickly in Harrow County #14 by beginning with a scene of Emmy as a helpless infant and her mother wielding a large knife next to her crib. You see, Emmy’s mother is trying to stop herself from murdering Emmy, because when she looks in the crib she sees her child as a congealed sludge of sinew and bone. Followers of the series will be familiar with disturbing imagery of this sort, and should expect plenty more of it as we accompany Emmy and her mysterious new acquaintance to a cryptic house through the corn field. Emmy’s mysterious new “relative”, Levi, has promised that this is where more family is waiting for them. And presumably answers are waiting inside as well.
One of the most exciting things about Harrow County is that every time you start to feel comfortable with where the story is going, the layers get peeled back a little further and everything gets a bit more mysterious. Harrow County #14 might be the best example yet of Bunn using this tactic to engage the reader and defy their expectations, as we see possibly the largest expansion to the cast of characters in the entire series. The air of mystery in this type of worldbuilding only furthers the feel of Harrow County being some kind of folk tale or local legend.
None of this would be nearly as effective without someone as capable as Tyler Crook handling the art. Crook is illustrating one of the most visually appealing comics in print today. Every page looks like something out of a dark and demented children’s storybook. The tone of the art is whimsical juxtaposed with sinister. It saturates every corner with mood and makes the ambience that much more unsettling. From the insidious sneer on Levi’s face, to the bloody footprints wandering into a dark doorway, reading Harrow County #14 is like stepping into a painting that wants to kill you.
Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook release another stellar entry to a series that is the epitome of engaging storytelling. More new developments than in any previous single issue ensure that while Harrow County #14 will disturb you, the scariest part will be having to wait for the next issue.
- Engaging story keeps the reader invested
- Storybook art exudes atmosphere through every panel
- Top-tier worldbuilding