More than a month removed from Christmas, Major Spoilers takes a look at Grant Morrison’s take on the Yuletide mainstay, Santa Claus. As the series continues, will it keep that old Christmas magic alive, or is the issue a holiday humbug? Unwrap the review after the jump!
Previously in HARROW COUNTY: Emmy, a girl with supernatural connections better left unveiled by the reader, is carving out her own little slice of the world in Harrow County. In this hamlet, there are macabre creatures and odd townsfolk, with nightmares waiting in every dark corner. But Emmy has at least one close friend by her side: A skinless boy who keeps her safe from harm, while Emmy stores the boy’s skin in the bottom drawer of her dresser. The suit sometimes mumbles and whispers, but hasn’t had much to say…until this issue.
A PEEK THROUGH THE WINDOW
While most of the serious has focused on Emmy so far, this issue is devoted to telling a story starring the skinless boy. In the dark of night, the boy and his suit of skin (once they were whole, we assume, but now they each have their own consciousness), encounter a drifter.
Now, if you happen to know the definition of the word “psychopomp,” you’ll get a thrill upon meeting this drifter. If you don’t know the word, wait until you read the issue and connect the dots afterwards. But suffice it to say that this drifter is not a friend to anyone, with skin or without. Bunn does a great job of reminding us that, skinless or not, the boy is just a boy and has the same fears and insecurities any other child would have.
The interaction between the drifter and the boy leads to a decision with dire consequences, and like the best horror fiction, answers questions and asks new ones in the same breath. Fantastic writing that sends shivers up your spine while tugging on your heartstrings.
A WALK THROUGH DARKNESS
Carla Speed McNeil’s artwork has been a perfect fit for the series. McNeil is able to draw emotion into every character, monster or human. Sinister drifter with Southern charm? Check. Pretty little girl with a sinister potential? Got it. There is some amazing talent shown when an artist like McNeil can use facial expressions to evoke sympathy for a creature made up of exposed bone and sinew. Darkness is used to great effect within these panels, as are the earthy colors from Jenn Manley Lee. Fantastic work all around, this is a quality book. While the artists eschew realism for slight caricature, it is appropriate for the tone of the book and makes the experience feel like a dream from which you can’t quite awake.
BOTTOM LINE: MORE TASTY THAN PICKLED PIGS’ FEET
From the opening sequence involving a chilling encounter between a drifter and a songbird, this issue had me hooked. This is horror at its best…full of weird, crawly nightmares and monsters of indiscriminate intention. This issue of Harrow County, just like the rest of the series, will grab for your throat immediately and dare you to look away. If you’re a fan of the ghastly and strange, I cannot recommend this book enough.
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