Black Harvest #1-2

By Josh Howard
32 pages, color
Published by Devil’s Due Publishing

I prefer to read two issues of a comic book before I review it. It helps me get a better feel for the book; if it can maintain what was set up in the first issue, as well as to see exactly where it’s going. It’s a strategy that often pays off; in the case of a book like Black Harvest, what I saw between the first and second issues was different indeed.

Daniel Webster’s a blogger, one that writes about UFOs and other unexplained phenomenon. It’s how he ended up in Jericho, Texas, where the mysterious Jericho Lights appear every year. What he found instead, though, was Zaya Vahn, a mysterious girl with the word “Repent” carved into her stomach and standing in the middle of a desolate road. Zaya went missing three years earlier, and now Daniel’s found himself more than just a story; like it or not, Daniel is part of the story.

Josh Howard starts off Black Harvest with all the right elements: a stranger entering town as our protagonist, a mysterious event waiting to be examined, a sudden shift in the status quo as the unexpected happens, and one final twist to end the first chapter of the story. There was just the right level of mystery and intrigue to make me want to see what happened in the next issue. In short, a perfect way to introduce the series. Then the second issue rolls around, and a lot of my enthusiasm went away. The problem with a good first issue in which a lot happens is that you’ve got to keep that pace up, and it’s not what I saw in Black Harvest #2. At the end of the first issue, Zaya’s loyalties are in question, Daniel is a prime suspect for her initial disappearance and untrusted, and a covert organization seems to be behind it all. At the end of the second issue? We’re almost exactly where we were at the end of the first issue. Virtually nothing happens, leaving the reader with a vague feeling that this isn’t going anywhere. It makes you wonder if Black Harvest would have been better suited as just having a planned five-issue run instead of six. It’s frustrating, because the first issue was strongly written and had a lot of initial momentum; the second feels more like Webster is just treading water.

On the other hand, the art in Black Harvest is definitely consistent from one issue to the next. Howard’s art style reminds me a lot of Michael Avon Oeming’s work on Powers, with the slightly angular faces and clean character designs. Howard has strong storytelling abilities; page designs hold together easily, guiding the reader’s eye across them smoothly. It’s also nice to see an artist that really pays attention to the small details. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s honestly quite rare to find a relatively new artist that actually bothers to draw things like backgrounds for all of the panels, for instance. My only real quibble is that a lot of his women’s faces look the same, save for different hair colors and styles. The men have enough variation that it’d be nice to get the same for the other half of the cast.

In the end, Black Harvest #1-2 falls into the category of a great start, but an uneven initial follow-through. Hopefully the remaining issues of the series will rise back up to the strength of the first issue. With such a promising debut, here’s hoping that it all will eventually pay off.

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