It's an era of Rebirth at DC Comics! How do the new books stack up?
Something's wrong with Emmy. That's the most basic version of the story we get in Harrow County #1, a new backwoods horror period piece from creators Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. Emmy's the seventeen year old farm girl who draws the audience into Harrow County's tale of a farming community cursed by a witch's dying breath.
This is not a review about plot specifics, however, because part of your enjoyment of Harrow County will come from discovering its moments of subtle terrors for yourself. Also, with issue 1 reflecting just a fraction of the story, a synopsis at this point would do no good. It's intended as an ongoing and this feels like just the tip of the overall set-up.
Could I have used more pages? Yes, but I'll be patient, because there's a beauty to Harrow County, both in its watercolored storytelling (unusually colorful for a horror tale of this sort) and how it bends familiar tropes into a strong enough hook to get you curious about what happens next.
Tyler Crook seems energized to be telling this story at square one. Panels are well-staged and the character acting is quite good. There's an immediate level of craft on display in the paints that will likely ensure Harrow County collections to move pretty well to the bookstore crowd. It's really accessibly attractive in such a way that I could see non-horror readers picking it up simply out of curiosity.
I haven't cracked the code on the recurring vaginal motif, a shape that appears at key moments of Emmy's brushes with horror. A hollowed tree, the eye of a malformed calf, and another moment of horror that I won't spoil here all recall the shape with a deliberation that is just not clear with a single issue. Time will tell how these genital visual cues tie into overall themes, or if it's an interesting subconscious "accident" on the part of Crook.
Bunn has spent the past year putting a high-profile spotlight on high profile villains like Sinestro and Magneto (and even Helheim isn't about a "nice" guy), so my assumption is that Harrow County will be another Bunn book that humanizes a villain, in this case witch and healer Hester Beck. Magneto has had some incredibly hair-raising moments of horror for a mainstream Marvel book, so I salivate over the fact that the worst (the best kind of worst) is yet to come for Harrow County. I know Bunn can shock me, and he can do it in stories where I give a damn about the characters (so rare for horror). Harrow County #1 holds a lot of promise.
The first issue also includes a one-page chiller titled "Baptism" by Bunn and artist Owen Gieni that seems to paint a broader picture of Harrow County as a place. Gieni's work is in line with the look that Crook establishes for this back.
Harrow County #1 arrives on May 13, 2015. Dark Horse has provided a look at Tyler Crook's art process below:
In the first part of Giant Size's deep dive into Marvel crossover events, Moises Chiullan and I cover the birth of the modern Marvel crossover (Avengers/Defenders War) all the way up to the "kitchen sink" approach offered by Contest of Champions. Part Two continues from there, staring with the landmark Secret Wars in 1984 and discussing everything -- Secret Wars II, The Evolutionary War, Atlantis Attacks, Inferno -- released in the 80s until Acts of Vengeance puts a capper on that decade. Then it's on to the 1990s, with Starlin/Perez/Lim's Infinity Gauntlet starting things off nicely and Heroes Return ending the decade with Marvel in the worst financial trouble of their publishing history. What happens next?
Marvel Crossovers Pt 1: "Heroes Punching Each Other" (70's) Listen/Subscribe
Marvel Crossovers Pt 2: "The Experience Has Been Consummated!" (80's) Listen/Subscribe
Marvel Crossovers Pt 3: "Chain Mail and a Bomber Jacket" (90's) Listen/Subscribe
Aw, chin up, Falcon! It's time for the latest episode of Giant Size! On this show we start with the original Marvel crossover - the Avengers/Defenders War - and boogie on down into the 1980s. This is the first of a multi-part series where we discuss some Marvel history as well as which crossovers are still worth reading and which ones changed the Marvel Universe forever!
Valiant Comics has had a terrific comeback. Bob Layton's hairstyle has not. The publisher shared this look back at their company (which has an entirely different staff now) via their Twitter account. It stars Bob Layton's hair. Some interesting takeaways: Valiant may have been the forefather of Free Comic Book Day and they really tried to accommodate a larger female readership (something comics are just now starting to get right, 20 years later).
Here's a picture of Bob Layton's hair:
I've never done a blind buy subscription service and I've never done an unboxing video! Comic Bento, which offers a monthly box of graphic novels and trades grouped by theme, seemed like my kind of service, so let's dig in. What did I get?