This is probably my favorite book out there by Cullen Bunn. There’s more heart in this horror story than most any of his Marvel books (though Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars put my tear ducts to work). He’s at his best when the air is tinged with something bittersweet, lonely, or even tragic. Harrow County is like a child’s fairy tale, at least how they were before Disney got hold of them. Tip toeing around the darkest edges of humanity with the joy and curiosity of a child.
In Harrow County, a girl is birthed from a tree from which a witch hung to death. The girl can speak to the dark creatures of the forest. Her twin sister attempted to use that power to undo her. She failed. It was a wonderful first eight issues. Now, as we move onto nine and a new story arc, a new mystery begins. Who is the man that can play a bird like a flute? That hypnotizes the boy with no skin? I’m surprised Stephen King has not called this one of his favorite things of last year, as the imagination at play is as twisted as his own black soul.
The world here is full of life even in the shadows. Carla Speed McNeil’s art and Jenn Manley Lee’s coloring are a huge, huge part of that. It’s so simple, capturing that simplicity and beauty of farmers and their lives. Have you ever stood outside in the middle of the night on an empty farm? It’s spooky. I recall the painting American Gothic (a.k.a. The Farmer and his Wife) by Grant Wood. There’s something going on in that painting, something happening just out of frame, just behind all the drawn curtains, something not quite right. That’s Harrow County. That’s what lives under your bed and visits you while you sleep. That’s what makes me excited to read this book every month.