Harrow County (#17 – 18) – Cullen Bunn

4 out of 5

Man, Carla Speed McNeil’s work has come so far since her days on Queen and Country.  Her work for Harrow has this stately nature to it – which is good for the human aspects of the book – and the combination with Jenn Manley Lee’s warm watercolors gives the figures an appropriately ghostly hue.

These two issues – a flashback to Emmy’s spirit “family,” as related by the creature in the woods, is thus a good application of her skills, except the creature itself – i.e. not a human – feels a little out of place, especially when trotting alongside our main character.  This visual discrepancy, along with Bunn’s jumpy pacing in issue 17, almost undermines things, if not for the powerful interactions in book 18 and fantastically done reveals which end up making it essential reading.  MacNeil also gets to add her bit of monstrousness to things with a particularly graphic panel, and with his pieces in place, Bunn can complete his story in a more straight-forward – and immensely satisfying – manner.

While the guest artist and flashback setup may make this seem like filler at first, Bunn continues to develop his Harrow world, and these issues end up being important pieces of that, with Carla Speed MacNeil thoughtfully chosen to match the tone of the arc.