‘Harrow County #25:’ Advance Comic Book Review

I wrote in my review about issue #24 of Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County that it felt like a punch had been pulled just as it was about to land. The conflict between two friends, Emmy and Bernice, suddenly enemies, like a ticking bomb, was seconds away from exploding. At the last second, someone unexpected - though logical enough - slipped in and cut the blue wire. In spite of this, we were left with a cliffhanger: a foreboding one. In issue #25, that punch that was pulled has become a knife sinking into a gut. That explosion has been redirected elsewhere. To say it’s effective would be an understatement.

From the first page of this newest issue, I was trembling internally and was glad I wasn’t holding an actual comic, as my fingers clamped the edges of my tablet hard. Crook’s imagery is that which fuels nightmares. You see, something is coming back for Emmy. If you’re not caught up, Emmy is the offspring born from a dead witch that was buried under a tree. The townsfolk of Harrow County pulled her from the womb of the tree itself. This issue backtracks over everything that’s brought us here including this, which leads me to believe there’s a climax coming down the pipeline - also, because forces are amassing against her. Her biggest fault here might be that she thinks she must handle it alone. The final pages of this issue left me rapt.

For me the best horror story is one that doesn’t have a clear-cut happy ending, but instead it that leaves you with a sense of dread and uncertainty. Even if the good guy manages to survive, something is left upturned, like Jack Torrance frozen in a maze and then somehow frozen in time decades before. I honestly don’t know which way Harrow County is heading. I can say that this is the most world weaving I’ve seen in a story of this kind. It elevates it beyond simple modern horror and into the worlds of classic stories of good versus evil, empathy versus apathy, humanity versus the unknown, creation versus death - stories like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde. Cullen Bunn hasn’t just created a spooky scare fest. Instead, he’s using horror tropes to create a story of epic proportions and dire consequences for its characters. I can say with absolute certainty that it’s one of the best comic books out there.

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