Ezekiel is a writer with a wife and two kids. He and his family are going back home to visit his father. Zeke's father, Jedidiah, is a farmer, but instead of plants, he grows body parts. He unlocked the secrets of a self-replicating stem cell that can grow like plants. Zeke has an awkward history with his father, and he is not looking forward to this visit. Plus, Jedidiah is known to keep secrets, and there are dark ones lurking inside his farm.
Farmhand #1 is something of a comedy horror story. It opens with Zeke having an especially grim nightmare, but the tone changes drastically with the introduction of his family.
The humor is a bit juvenile, but it's played against the macabre farm and the secrets within. Not all the jokes land, but there is something appealing about a childlike sense of humor in a story with something called a "Scalp Bush."
The history between Zeke and Jedidiah is kept intentionally vague, but they bond and seem to make amends.
Zeke's kids are precocious but genuinely funny and endearing.
The "secrets" which mostly amount to people trying to steal Jed's proprietary genetic technology in this book don't immediately catch my intrigue, but there is hope for that angle.
A funny thought that ran through my head while reading this comic is how awesome it would be if we could just grow replacement limbs, organs, etc. like Jed does on his farm. The book tries to play it as horrific because arms and organs are growing on trees, but this would be a world-changing breakthrough in medical science.
Also, it would be nice if such genetic engineering were publicly available as opposed to being held by a single mega-rich farmer, but that's another matter.
Rob Guillory's artwork is very cartoonish. Limbs are often thin, facial features exaggerated, and even the farm isn't especially gory. The limbs are green like a cartoon zombie's. There are some gory and outright horror-like moments sprinkled throughout, and they can seemingly come out of nowhere. In the end, the art is charming, but it doesn't do a lot for me personally. It matches the tone well, though. It plays to the comedic side of the book.
Farmhand #1 is a charming first foray into this story with a dark undercurrent. The book balances its horror and comedy elements well, and it keeps its secrets close to its chest while tantalizing the reader with hints and clues. The art doesn't blow me away, but it's not bad either. I can recommend this one pretty easily. Feel free to check it out.