Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artwork: Meredith Laxton
Colours: Katrina Mae Hao
Letters: Will Cook
Release Date: 27th November 2019
It’s that time of year when we’re bombarded with Hallmark movies and saccharin sentiments of goodwill. Don’t get me wrong, I love the festive season and everything that goes with it, but when given the opportunity for something a tad different I’ll grab it with both hands. For that reason, the premise of Hark the Herald definitely caught my attention.
It’s Christmas and there’s a cabin in the woods where a group of dangerous individuals have gathered as a kind of sociopath’s retreat. Unfortunately (for them at least), a spirit of vengeance has risen to right wrongs in a way only The Crow can.
One-shots can be pretty tricky to land well. Building on existing canon or drawing inspiration from established settings can help to get you into the action faster, but it’s also something of a double edged sword. There’s a risk that the reader’s expectations aren’t met or that the idea doesn’t sit as intended. In the main, Hark the Herald feels, at its core, a decent Crow story but I’m far from an expert on the subject matter. The premise is one I can fully get behind, but whilst I enjoyed the book well enough, I felt there was something missing.
Seeley’s writing, through good pacing, engages us with the plot and propels us along towards our climax. Although told well enough, aided by Cook’s letters, it doesn’t feel like it brings anything particularly new. I can’t help but shrug the feeling that apart from an excuse to use a nifty title, the Christmas connection isn’t leveraged nearly hard enough.
Similarly, whilst Laxton and Mae Hao’s work with the art is of a consistently good calibre throughout, I feel that the colours are too bright for the subject matter. We’re talking about murder and cold vengeance, after all. Again perhaps it’s meant to highlight the juxtaposition of the holiday cheer, but I felt it an odd fit. Still, the inventive way some of the baddies are dispatched satisfied my black humour streak.
There’s a danger that I’ve expected or looking for more than was intended here. Rather than a dark Christmas twist, if you want a light – as odd as that sounds given the murder – one-shot festive romp then this could be for you.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster