It’s Wednesday and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (and preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, BOOM! Studios, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Harrow County #1
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Tyler Crook
Dark Horse Comics
Harrow County is more than a scary story. I mean, it definitely is a scary story, rife with nightmare imagery and notes of suspense and dread. As horror comics go, it’s in the company of Mike Mignola’s best work, even based on this first issue. But Harrow County explores the nature of fear, and of old legends and the basic impulses behind them, in a way that’s both thoughtful and haunting.
The story opens with the hanging of Hester Beck, a local witch with a Rasputin-like tenacity for survival. Beck was a local healer beloved by the community of Harrow County, until the darker elements of her being became too much to ignore. Witchcraft is immediately established as a perversion of femininity and motherhood, with Beck’s gifts coming at the cost of children and fertility of livestock. Even the tree on which she is hanged later bears a large yonic scar, one which protagonist Emmy dreams screeches at her in the night.
Emmy is about to turn eighteen, and she’s beginning to show the twisted gifts and curses that Beck did. Her father tries to ignore it, and focuses more on her daydreams of moving away from the farm. But the more and more frequent births of disfigured livestock is as much as part of her maturity as anything else, and the end of the issue is as grotesque and portentous as one would hope/fear.
There’s a lot of easy charm to Harrow County, from the folksy dialogue to the clean, nostalgic art. But beneath that is both horror and insight, and Bunn and Crook delve deeply into the primordial fears that witches draw from. It’s a quality book with a lot to unpack.
– Joe Stando
Five Ghosts Special #1
“The Demon and the Dreamstone” by S.M. Vidaurri
“Boats Against The Current”
Words: Frank J. Barbiere
Art: Jamie Jones
Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
While the main series is awaiting a relaunch, Five Ghosts takes a moment in this special to fill in the backstory of one of the titular ghosts. The Dreamstone, which contains the ghosts, was once in the hands of a Viking invader of Britain. Possessing the invader, the stone twisted him into a horrible demon who haunted the countryside. Years later, a troop of British knights come upon this demonic creature, and it is down to the strength of one pure soul to defeat it.
S.M. Vidaurri delivers a lovely story here, plugging together some of the history of the series while making it very inviting for new readers. His art is beautiful in its painterly simplicity. Limiting his palette to bright pinks and deep shades of blue and indigo gives the art a mournful tone. This is the first time I’ve seen Vidaurri’s art, but I’m going to keep an eye out for him going forward.
While the main story is a real departure from the much more rip-roaring pulp adventure of the main series, the brief back-up story gives new readers a better dose of what they should expect. It’s a quick heist story in which Fabian Gray, who is possessed by the five ghosts, uses their powers to steal an artifact, and quickly finds himself in a trap. While the art is not as accomplished here as in the main story, it’s a fun story to lead into the next series.
Five Ghosts has been flying under the radar at Image for a while now. It’s an excellent pulp adventure series, and hopefully this relaunch will get it some more notice. This special is a great place for new readers to catch on.
– Jason Urbanciz