"Farmhand #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Image Comics
Written and illustrated by Rob Guillory
Colored by Taylor Wells
Lettered by Kody Chamberlain
2018, 36 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on July 11th, 2018
We've always associated farming with crops like corn or wheat. What if you could grow something that would support mankind in a different way? That's what Jedidiah Jenkins does. His crops don't feed people. They replace organs. He literally grows arms, legs, livers, kidneys, and anything else a human being would need as a plug-and-play replacement. This would be creepy enough on its own, but there's something sinister lurking deep within the Jenkins farm.
You might think you're prepared for the unsettling imagery within Farmhand, but you'd be wrong. Nothing can prepare you for the sight of human arms growing out of a tree or sets of teeth biting their way through a blossoming flower. Writer / artist Rob Guillory has a unique talent for artwork like this that walks the line between the humorous and the grotesque.
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With all the body parts on display, it's tough to pick one that is the scariest. They're all rather frightening. The arms tend to stand out, possibly because they have some of the largest trees. Colorist Taylor Wells shades them in a sickly green, like they've just come from Frankenstein's monster. What puts this whole thing over the edge is the blood that spurts out when the arms are trimmed from the tree. That's right. The plants bleed.
Guillory gets us quickly up to speed on how all this came to be through a funny little tour the main characters are attending. This serves to educate both them and the reader on the history of this strange phenomenon. Letterer Kody Chamberlain presents the narration in these blocky computer caption boxes, removing the humanity from the equation.
The bulk of Farmhand is shown as a bright and shiny futuristic utopia. Look at how happy everyone is on this farm. When things get serious, we see just how deadly Jedidiah is and the lengths he's willing to go to protect his family farm. This opens up some pretty intriguing ideas, as he's just rekindled the relationship with his estranged son and grandchildren. How will these dangers affect this? When will they find out what the old man is up to?
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I don't want to spoil the particularly creepy element of Farmhand, which comes towards the end of the issue. The replacement limbs and organs are already disturbing, but there's an added element that puts them over the edge that needs to be seen. It's something that only Guillory could pull off.
Farmhand is a quirky yet unsettling comic. It's filled with little gags and fun that will bring a smile to your face...before sending a shiver up your spine with horrific imagery. I'm going to pretend it's set in the same world as Chew, the series Guillory co-created and illustrated, as the two work well together. It's safe to say if you liked Chew, you'll love Farmhand.