Bernice’s Trial By Fire: Reviewing ‘Tales From Harrow County: Death’s Choir #3’

by Brendan M. Allen

Still under suspicion by the townsfolk she has sworn to protect, Bernice continues to track down the source of the ghostly song that raises the dead. But just as she gets closer to the truth, she must contend with a new threat: a vicious banshee called forth by the choir.

Tales From Harrow County: Death’s Choir #3 is the chapter where Bernice gets to go out on her own and solve the supernatural puzzle, cementing her place as Ms. Emmy’s rightful successor. This is where the rubber meets the road. Bernice will either locate the source of the mysterious music that raises the dead and deal with it or she’ll die trying.
Either way, I have a sneaking suspicion there’s no win for her here. Succeed, and she proves herself a powerful witch, while destroying a lot of folks’ only opportunity to commune with their departed loved ones. Fail, and she won’t save the town from whatever dark power is at work. One way or the other, it’s ugly. 

Cullen Bunn uses this chapter to set up for something big. Like I said, this is the litmus. Right here, Bernice confronts her imposter syndrome and sets out to do the thing that needs doing, for no other reason than it needs doing. But this song, this zombie/Army of Ghosts/Doomsday thing, is a stepping stone for the next big pop.

I think this is the issue that really made me sit up and realize that while these character designs began at the desk of Tyler Crook, Naomi Franquiz is owning them now. There is one sequence in particular that is executed very well in this chapter, where a mob of hobgoblins (a mobgoblin?) sets upon Bernice to exact revenge for one of their own.
Half a dozen of the little gremlins trying to take our protagonist out, and each one of those nasty little turds has a unique appearance, their own posture and ambulation, quirky little details to set them apart from the pack. It would have been very easy, forgivable even, to repeat six little versions of the same ugly little imp. No one would have said a word. Nope. Six designs. All distinct.

This is a deceptively simple little piece of Bernice’s coming of age. Seems like a breather, but when you take a closer look, there’s a lot more going on than is immediately apparent. And, oh yes, it’s about to hit the fan.

Tales From Harrow County: Death’s Choir #3, Dark Horse Comics, 12 February 2020. Created by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook, written by Cullen Bunn, art by Naomi Franquiz, letters by Tyler Crook, digital art by Josie Christensen. Edited by Daniel Chabon, designed by Keith Wood.

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