Emmy is not like most 18-year-olds. She was born from a tree, a tree her mother - a very powerful witch - was buried under. You see, the witch created the people of Harrow County from mud and gave them life, but the townsfolk, realizing just how evil she was, turned on her and killed her. Now, Emmy - with the power of her mother - can commune with the haints, both good and evil creatures that live in the woods nearby. This was the truth until just recently. Since the beginning, the people of Harrow County have tried to kill Emmy, Emmy’s twin sister has come to control the haints, a snake charmer has taught a new apprentice, Emmy’s family of powerful witches has returned for her, and character-defining secrets have been revealed - secrets that have changed who Emmy is. But Emmy is still Emmy, or is she?
Cullen Bunn’s epic horror fable takes on deeper meanings and greater consequences for our protagonist with every turn. How Bunn approaches these twists and turns is wonderful. In this two-parter, while Emmy is trying to grapple with the revelations she has discovered, a group of hunters drive into Harrow County looking to catch a haint - the biggest and oldest haint of them all: a giant-sized, black-as-tar bull with four glowing, yellow eyes and plenty of teeth. Up until recently, he was simply known as The Abandoned. He's a creature that’s been around since probably the beginning of time, as far as Emmy can tell. This, of course, is not good for the hunters.
What plays out is somewhat of a classic horror scenario in which the hunters become the hunted, but within this world, nothing is what you’d expect. In the end, Emmy makes a choice to use her power in a way that, for me, is highly questionable, even if it may be for the best in the moment. Also, if you’ve been reading, an old acquaintance returns.
What we’re facing is the age-old question of predetermination versus freedom of choice. Can Emmy remain Emmy, or will these recent discoveries pull her down a different path? When I said this tale was epic, I meant it. The scope dealt with in a mere twenty issues has been amazing, and there’s still plenty of territory to cover and questions left unanswered.
I have to add that all of this works due to the talent of the artist, Tyler Crook. His children’s storybook-style approach from the get go gives this world a feeling of great depth. It gives you that feeling of Hansel and Gretel following a trail of bread crumbs and fighting a witch. As a child, you felt the world come to life: that there was more in the shadows; that this witch has killed and eaten her fair share of children. You feel the history and the world. That’s the magic Crook brings to this comic book - the feeling of a fable unfolding. A bloody, frightening, complicated fable.