"Harrow County #30" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Cullen Bunn
Illustrated by Tyler Crook
Backup story written by Tyler Crook and illustrated by Cat Farris
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on April 25th, 2018
Hester Beck has returned and is about to wreak havoc on the residents of Harrow County. This evil force that the locals have feared for years is back and she’s worse than ever, relishing in the terror she’s been able to sow. Young Emmy, still reeling from her battle with her sinister doppelganger, Kammi, is the only one that could possibly stop Hester.
To say that Harrow County #30 is tense is an understatement. The issue begins with the pounding of war drums as twisted creatures call forth the people Hester created to do her bidding. They may have free will, but cannot resist this summoning. You can see the struggle on their faces. They want nothing more than to lock themselves up in their houses, but they are compelled to walk out into the woods to literally meet their maker.
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Artist Tyler Crook also served as the letterer and pulled the haunting sounds of the drums into the artwork itself. The steady “RUM-BUM-THRUM” of the beat weaves in and around the people and the setting, almost like old cartoons when a character would smell something good to eat. This is obviously a lot more frightening than Bugs Bunny going to eat a carrot cake.
As the townsfolk begin their march into the woods, they’re joined by snakes who are also answering Hester’s call. Imagine for a moment that you’re walking with a few of your neighbors and dozens of long, dark snakes start slithering around your feet. This is just one of the many creepy images this issue contains. It gets crazier.
Emmy tries to stop these snakes at least, but the attack backfires. This is the result of Kammy’s power that she took in after their fight. Instead of summoning owls to eat up the snakes, she calls forth something out of a nightmare. Picture a severed head of a blind man, screaming in agony. Now put dark wings and talons on it. I don’t know what to call this abomination, but I know I’m going to be seeing it whenever I close my eyes for the next few weeks.
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Seeing Emmy’s reaction to this is heartbreaking. She has a moment of happiness as she figures out a way to stop the snakes, only to have that instantly replaced by revulsion and terror. She has to come to terms with the darkness that now lives inside her, fighting to keep it down.
Hester has made a huge bonfire with strange creatures lurking around, tending to the flames. The pages come alive with an electric yellow, piercing through the shadows with an otherworldly glow. Hester is at the center of it all, reveling in the chaos she’s causing and looking filthy as ever. She’s still mostly covered in blood, none of it hers; leaving it as a reminder of what she’s capable of and the lengths she’ll go for revenge.
The sound effects are spot on in this issue too. I say that because the sound the townsfolk make when Hester’s plan is revealed is the same sound I made while reading it. It’s shocking, terrifying, and more than a little unsettling.
As Harrow County nears its end, the forces of good and evil are preparing for a final battle. This is the lead up to that climactic showdown. Writer Cullen Bunn has packed it with an intense feeling of dread. A dark cloud hangs over this town and the sun may never shine on it again. I almost don’t know what else to say about it at this point because this is a comic everyone should be reading. It excels on all fronts.