Harrow County #2
The great and frustrating thing about writing and reviewing comics alongside Myles and Drew each week is that we read and enjoy a lot of the same books. This week was no different in that one of our favorite new titles came up and we knew only one of us could review it. I called the proverbial ‘dibs’ on Dark Horse Comics “HARROW COUNTY” #2 by Cullen Bunn and art by Tyler Crook. Just last month we spoke with Cullen Bunn about the series on the podcast, and drilled down further into the history of “Haints” and rural horror. It was a great introduction, much like the first issue of the series, into the world building and back story of this book. If you haven’t listened to that episode I will stop writing for an hour while you go an catch-up…O.K. then, so we tried to steer clear of spoilers for the series, because we were all very excited to read it at publication, and boy am I glad we did.
This second offering into Harrow County is just plain great. The creepiness and action gets turned up as we find out that there are more secrets and dangers for Emma than she could have imagined, and not just from the haint-filled forests around her farm. Her ally in this issue is the young boy’s skin from the end of the first issue, as it helps her avoid a most horrific fate not at the hands of the ghouls, but a much scarier enemy. It is hard not to talk about this issue without giving it away and ruining all the mystery and bone-chilling art, but suffice to say this issue continues to intrigue us on the podcast, and if it can hold this pace then I am now officially hooked. I like looking at a shelf of comics and not having to think when I pick it up, and I can’t wait for the third issue, because that is immediately what’s going to happen.
Cullen’s dialogue continues to shine, as his first hand expertise in Southern dialects is on display here. It is hard not to give the characters lilts and twangs when reading the pages, sometimes saying things aloud. The horror scenes in this book are really brought to life by artist Tyler Crook. The depictions of skin-boy are truly unsettling, but the art really is at its best in the expressions and emotions on Emma and her Pa’s faces. There is a lot of subtle play at work here, and mastery of the form that really makes this book special. Another reason this comic should be an insta-buy for you is that it really is the most beautifully drawn comic on the stands currently, alongside Dustin Nguyen’s “Descender” and Declan Shalvey’s “Injection”. I feel like the combo of Bunn and Crook was a great pairing, as with every new panel the characters and setting are becoming more real and interesting. It is not often that art alone should compel you to buy a comic, but mix in there one of my favorite authors and you have a comic that you can’t put down. Find out what happens when you feed your haint after midnight in “Harrow County” #2 on stands today.
A few months ago, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo finished their amazing Endgame arc right before DC launched their two month long Convergence event. During that time we started to get teases about what was going to come next, and no tease was bigger than the bunny. The robobunny. The roboBATbunny. What?! That’s not any Batman I’ve ever seen before! Are those police lights? Rocket launchers? THAT’S NOT MY BATMAN! But it’s Snyder and Capullo! Their run has been legendary! Surely, they can make me love this, right?
Yep. They can. I didn’t share the same outrage that some online did about the shift to Jim Gordon in the role of a Batman working more inside the system. As much as I like Bruce in the Batsuit, I don’t mind giving him a break every once in a while. Neither does DC apparently, because right now they have four books with four different Batmen. At the end of the day we all know this is temporary, so why not take the time to enjoy it.
Jim Gordon has been a part of the Batman world since Detective Comics 27, he’s as integral a part of the Bat Family as anyone. He predates Robin, he predates the Joker. But Gordon has always represented the thin blue line, the “real” justice in Gotham City. That’s where we get to the really interesting bits that get him to put on the cowl, so to speak. He’s had a rough year. In Batman Eternal he (due to some perception altering villain’s powers) causes a major incident that kills innocent civilians. He’s stripped of his position as commissioner, sent to Blackgate Prison, becomes roommates with a presumed dead crime boss, and on and on and on. And this is AFTER the return of his sociopathic son, by the way. So we’re presented with a tired, old (even though he’s only 46), beaten down man who just doesn’t want to be Batman. We see a team of young police recruits that Powers International is training, but the CEO wants Gordon. And honestly, who else in the police force could it be? Who else was closer to the real Batman? Who else would try to uphold the values that Batman did?
This issue also introduces the first of what I presume are going to be some larger than life villains. Now that we have a Robobatbunny, why not send a giant electricity monster after him? We get to see Gordon in action, and it was really fun to see him fight with the suit. For me, it was even more fun to see the detective side of him come out and piece together what was going on to really stop the bad guy. I think that was a concern of some, that it would be all robot fights and no real detective work. Like I said, I believe in this creative team! This new Batman project was funded and built by a corporation, Powers International, which appeared in the Batman Beyond cartoon as a company who performed a hostile takeover of Wayne Industries to form Wayne-Powers Enterprises, so of course I don’t trust them or their CEO Geri Powers. We learn a bit about the new suit, including that it can change colors with a nice little cameo to some suits of Batmen past. I also love that Julia “Perry” is still a part of the book. She became a valuable asset to Bruce through Eternal and Endgame, and I love that we still have a Pennyworth backing up a Batman.
It’s a gamble, what they’re doing here. But the Snyder/Capullo team has gambled before and won. They’ve earned my trust that they’re going to make an engaging, important story, and issue one is only confirming my confidence. I believe in Batman. I believe in Jim Gordon.