Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

At this point, it’s hard for me to believe that there will ever be a disappointing issue of Harrow County. I have complete faith in Cullen Bunn’s vision for the world. The roots are so deep that every revelation, every turn, every detail feels natural, authentic, and unnerving.

Matt Kindt slows down for Issue #7. Mia, our hero who is trapped in a quickly crumbling underwater research center with a group of scientists - one (or more) of whom killed her father, has decided to stop letting her situation dictate her next step. Trapped in the control room with her father’s closest confidant, Roger, Mia asks why she shouldn’t just leave and let all of them die. Roger focuses on one of their group who we haven’t gotten to know yet. While Roger talks about Aaron, we see him on one of the console cameras. In a smart move, we follow a character that is not Mia.

World War I was a pretty terrifying ordeal: the advent of modern warfare; the war to end all wars. Thousands died each day and that was just in Russia. From that war sprung painter Paul Nash, a British soldier so shaken by the war that it inspired some beautiful and powerfully surreal war imagery. He is quoted as saying, “I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on forever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth and may it burn their lousy souls.” Now, approaching WWI’s centenary, David McKean embraces this passion and brings us a graphic novel in honor of Nash’s work.

Collecting volumes two and three of the popular manga and now film, I Am a Hero, by Kengo Hanazawa is one of the most fascinating, weirdly hilarious, and uncommonly human zombie epics in existence. Our “hero” of this story is Hideo Suzuki, a thirty-five-year-old reclusive manga artist who takes medication for hallucinations, illegally owns a personal shotgun (Look up Japan’s gun laws.), and who has yet to reach the popularity he’s struggled for as a creator. In Omnibus One, it almost begins as a slice-of-life character study, and zombies seem like a second thought to Hanazawa. Hideo has a girlfriend who can’t take her liquor and who looks up to another manga artist which causes some jealous friction between the two. Hideo’s co-workers don’t treat him well, while Hideo rants on and on about the true art of manga, and, honestly, the whole book could be this. I would have praised it.

The last we saw Conan, not only was he betrayed by the brother of one of his party members, but he came face to face with what appeared to be a troll. Most of Issue #3 deals with the immediate threat which is veiled in a mystery we may not figure out, but while Conan is away, chess pieces continue to shift at home.

For five issues now, Mia has been tossed around by circumstance. A scientist sent to investigate her father’s possible murder on an underwater station six miles below the surface of the ocean, she has been met with one disruption after the next. Sabotage, giant squids, rescue missions, crazed chefs, it has been nonstop survival with almost zero actual detective work on Mia’s part. It seems like she hasn’t slept in days and that no one wants to actually figure out what happened to her father. This has been just as frustrating for Mia as it has been the reader.

Holy crap. Black Hammer #3 was downright riveting and with nary an action scene. After spending Issue #2 getting to know the tragic tale of Gail, we now delve into Barbalien’s past, and it’s bittersweet as hell. Taking a page from Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous series, Jeff Lemire titles this issue, "The Warlord of Mars," which is smartly fitting in multiple ways: Barbalien’s home planet, the time period in which these types of serials were huge in comics, and the irony in how it deals with Barbalien’s political stance.

While the story moves forward and the format of how the story is being told makes more sense now, I still am finding it difficult to get my emotional footing. Kingsway is a killer, or at least war turned him into one, but the one thing that was keeping him human was the love of his life, his wife Sonia. Now, she’s been chased off and Kingsway and a kind of crazy guide, Zozo, along with her pet dragon are helping him find Sonia again. Even though Kingsway doesn’t want to kill, his hand is being forced and that’s drawing the attention of The United States of New York. See, this story is an alternate universe story where not everything has worked out as our own history has. Western and fantasy mythologies are shaking hands, all friendly like.

While the Engineer will continue on in Issue #1 of Aliens: Life and Death, the enigmatic creature was in the background for most of its own title. In Dan Abnett’s otherwise capable hands (His work so far with the Aliens, who I’m a huge fan of, and Predators, who I’m not a particular fan of, has been enjoyable.), a creature that deals with the manipulation of the beginnings of life became nothing more than Frankenstein’s Monster. The only motivation for this supposedly highly intelligent creature is simply to make it more difficult for our Colonial Marines to escape the planet. A slow-moving, grunting plot device. It gives me little hope for exploring what it is and what it wants in the forthcoming Alien title.

Tyler Crook’s artwork is lush and teeming with life, making the world of Harrow County one of the most fully realized landscapes in fiction today. His images are raw and breathtaking. They are both beautiful and haunting. They enliven the imagination by not only showing you what’s on the page, but making you wonder what’s beyond the panels. Without Crook’s artwork, I don’t believe Harrow County would be half as good as it is.

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