Review – Tales of Harrow County: Death’s Choir #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Created by: Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook
Script: Cullen Bunn
Artwork: Naomi Franquiz
Lettering: Tyler Crook
Release Date: 18th December 2019
It has been ten years since the goddess-witch Hester Beck was defeated by Emmy Crawford and the residents of Harrow County could finally live free of her insidious workings. In the intervening time, Bernice has become caretaker for the Haints and salve to the more interesting complaints of her neighbours.
When war comes to Harrow County, Bernice sees her neighbours assailed by a more mundane horror as telegrams start to arrive, offering scant condolence for their loss. Along with this new wave of suffering comes something dark and sinister that will need all of Bernice’s talents to overcome.
Much like the opening of this story, it seems like ten years since we saw the end of the first series, yet it has somehow only been a year since we last visited with Cammy, Bernice, Hester and the other denizens of Harrow County’s woods. Harrow County was for me, one of the best gothic folk horror stories I’ve read, and arguably Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s magnum Opus, so I’m very excited to see a new arc beginning in this world.
This series starts with images of hope and renewal and a world where the Haints have learned to co-exist with their human neighbours. Underneath the light, however, is a darkness creeping at the edges and a slight bitterness in Bernice; possibly for being left behind, possibly for the forgetfulness of what she and Cammy gave for the people of Harrow County.
Times have changed, with new loyalties, new love, new experiences, and new horrors. We can only hope that Bernice does not have to sacrifice as deeply this time round. Being completely honest, Cullen Bunn has been a bit hit-and-miss for me over the last year, but it’s great to see him back on form with what looks like it’s going to be another superbly chilling, folk horror series.
While the artwork is very much in the style of the previous series, it is not being illustrated by Tyler Crook this time round, but instead we are in the hands of the talented Naomi Franquiz. Tyler Crook did an incredible job with the first series, producing some of my favourite panels and pages in comics, so it’s very hard to see the reins passed on to new hands. On the whole, Franquiz’ art is really good. I love to see watercolour used well, but it’s just not Tyler Crook good. These are characters that we’ve grown to love and admire and be in awe of over a number of years so the slightest change can be jarring.
Yes, I’m aware I’m being hypercritical, and on any other day Franquiz’ art would be more than good, but with this series, it lacks the subtlety, depth and accuracy of Crook’s work. This is a real shame, and it did take me out of the story just a little in this first issue. However, I’m sure that by the time I’ve devoured issue two I’ll be singing Franquiz’ praises from the rooftops.
I am so pleased to have the opportunity to read more tales from Harrow County and I genuinely cannot wait for the next issue. I have every confidence that Bunn, Crook and Franquiz are going to deliver us another epic series!
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek
I loved Harrow County- I’m hoping this new series is as strong.