06th Dec2019

‘The Crow: Hark the Herald #1’ Review (IDW Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Tim Seeley | Art by Meredith Laxton | Published by IDW Comics


Once upon a time The Crow franchise was all conquering. There were comics, TV shows, films, books, models, the lot. That’s not to say The Crow hasn’t been around much, as comic book wise it has been almost a constant presence since it popped up in 1989, created by James O’Barr. I think it has gone through six publishers in its time, so clearly there is usually someone, somewhere who enjoys a bit of a supernatural Gothic superhero. Well, me among others. However, I have been a neglectful friend, and haven’t picked up a Crow book for many a moon. So, when I saw a Christmas Special that was being written by Tim Seeley, I figured now’s the time to check back in. Clean slate, self contained story. perfect to review. Let’s take a look.

The premise sounds pretty cool, as I would expect from a Tim Seeley book. Every year at Christmas, a group of 6 people gather at a cabin in the wilds of Wisconsin to celebrate together. Well, that doesn’t sound too exciting, I hear you cry. Well, these particular individuals are professional killers, people who are emotionless the other 51 weeks of the year, but on this one week try and act like normal people. Watch Christmas TV, give presents, chill out etc. Apparently, even that they can’t get right, as this year it seems The Crow is going to see who has been naughty or nice.

We start with a little prequel in a bar, which though innocent enough looks although it will impact on the story down the line. A Christmas drink, over boisterous people, seemingly little harm done. One year later, we are that the aforementioned cabin with Jane, Larry, Mr. Jinko, Mr. Ten among others. I wouldn’t suggest you get too attached to any of these characters, as Mr. Jinko lasts about 2 pages before getting The Crow fire and arrow through his eye socket, while dressed as Father Christmas. There’s an image. It’s safe to say the killers in the cabin are pretty freaked out, but also that they seem to know why someone is stalking them. It obviously has something to do with Brandi, the girl in the opening bar scene, who it seems is now The Crow, busy shoving arrows in people’s eyes.

Karen, the suburban assassin is next to go, followed by another being stabbed on some elk antlers. I did tell you not to get too attached. The Crow is a little like The Spectre over at DC, an unforgiving force of nature with one purpose, to punish. The Crow, though, is powered by the hatred, the force of emotion, of those taken before their time, victims of bad people. The full story comes out, as we see Brandi and her father, incredibly close down the years, were both kidnapped and taken to this cabin by Lawrence, for a minor slight. The other assassins didn’t really want to, but now their faces had been seen, helped murder Brandi and her father. Professional killers who became murderers, and that is what saw The Crow rise as a spirit of vengeance. No happy endings as you would expect. Even though The Crow ‘wins’, Brandi had already lost.

Although this was a little slighter than I thought it would be, and would have benefited from a higher page count to flesh out characters and situation, it was still a decent read, an alternate take on the spirit of Christmas, or lack of. The setup is of course nothing new, but Seeley handled it as well as you would expect. It’s good, if not great. The art, by Meredith Laxton is also good, certainly technically the clean lines I especially like, but the story may have benefited from a darker, grittier style of art and colouring. The is The Crow after all, in a bleak midwinter landscape, and is just crying out for something like a Jae Lee or Bill Sienkiewicz approach. Nothing against the artist herself though, she does a good job.

Not essential reading by any means, but a nice little page turner. Would I revisit The Crow anytime soon? Possibly. Rather that than The Crow visit me…

***½  3.5/5

The Crow: Hark the Herald #1 is out now from IDW Comics.


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