In the wake of The Family’s, um, departure, Emmy has some soul searching to do. You may recall in the previous arc, the Abandoned had some words for Levi, and his relationship with Emmy has been somewhat strained. Harrow County #17 appears to want to mend that fence, between the two, as the Abandoned relays his tale to Emmy. Already it seems the two have more in common than either knew.
The Abandoned has been haunting the woods of Harrow County for longer than either Emmy or we as readers could have imagined, but his tale is somewhat difficult to pinpoint, time-wise. The denizens of the county appear to be in modernish attire, but the laws and rules of The Family are newly formed. One of the most intriguing and frustrating things about Harrow County on the whole is that time seems so very fluid in Emmy’s world. It’s difficult to pinpoint any time, let alone that of the Abandoned.
It’s unclear, as of yet, whether or not we will learn what the Abandoned used to be, only that this horrific state might not have been his initial form (this may not even be his final form). What is clear is that Malachi and Amarylls have a strong connection with and desire to protect the Abandoned and allow him to live out his existence in peace, for whatever reason. Also, this naturally puts them, and the Abandoned, at odds with the rest of the mysterious Family.
As with Emmy, every time I think I have a grasp on the Family, Bunn reveals a little more about them and I find that I truly understand nothing. They are a complex, diverse group whose true motivations remain clouded in secrecy and conspiracy. Levi’s direct opposition of Malachi is an interesting turn, though. From the previous arc, I was under the impression that Hester was the firebrand who ruined everything the Family had laid out, and caused chaos amongst them. Now, I’m not so sure Hester was alone in her destruction. This issue does, however, explain why Levi was so terrified to see the Abandoned, and surprised. How the Abandoned returns to Harrow County, in the reveal of the last panel, remains to be seen.
My greatest hope, for the series, is that the Abandoned and Emmy are able to form a kinship, however unsteady it may be. Both reject the laws and rules of the Family, and the Abandoned is undoubtedly correct in surmising the Family will return to Harrow County in one way or another. Emmy has directly spat in their face and shamed them, and they don’t strike me as a group that will take that sitting down. I sincerely hope the Abandoned is telling his tale to Emmy in effort to find common ground, and not as a cautionary tale before slinking back to his shadows.
As an aside, the art in this issue is fantastic. Carla Speed McNeil’s treatment of Emmy is delightful, especially in the wake of the previous arc. This Emmy looks older, wiser and a little more in-tune with her surroundings.
Harrow County #17 feels like a much needed interlude in what has been a dark and difficult time for Emmy. A talk, no matter how grave or foreboding, is just what she needs right now. Whether or not it ends in the formation of a new friendship is unclear, but any hint of kindness or kinship from the haints of the county she just fought to protect is exactly what we needed.
Author: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Carla Speed McNeil
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publish date: 10/19/2016
Acquired via Publisher