Wytches #1 is the new horror offering from the team of Scott Snyder and Jock, who worked together so well in the pages of Detective Comics. Can they replicate their success when the horror world only loves vampires and zombies?
MEET THE ROOKS
As a first issue, Wytches is light on plot, economically doling out dribs and drabs of backstory, introducing the Rooks family as they settle down in a new home in New Hampshire. There are some normal anxieties coloring the story. Daughter Sail is starting off at a new school and has a history of being bullied. Father Charles is a successful creator of children’s books, but his agent is unsure about his next project. And, y’know, the woods maybe haunted by witches which devour people through trees, so that could be a problem.
Snyder’s script is heavy on atmospherics and imagery, built around a straighforward story. He confidently sketches out a family dealing with a recently traumatic event, trying to make a new start, but doesn’t dwell on the details. We don’t yet know what the witches are, or what the rules are in this world, and the experience is much the better for it. What stuck in Wytches #1 was the strange, nightmarish moments burbling in around the fringes. A sad/cute moment where a deer is caught in the Rooks’ house transitioned into one of the more memorable horror moments I’ve encountered this year, in comics or otherwise. There is one sexual threat in the text, which I felt was a little out of place and unnecessary, but aside from that misstep, every element of the story was engaging. The family is in an interesting place,and the chips are already starting to fall.
Jock’s cover for Wytches #1 is strikingly ominous, and the inside delivers on its lurking promise. He absolutely brings it on art, from the panel layouts to his expressive, appealing faces. The horror setpieces in Snyder’s script are terrifyingly brought to life under Jock’s direction. He expertly modulates the panels to heighten the tension, which then releases on these disturbing full page reveals. It’s a great use of energy and motion. Matt Hollingsworth’s coloring blends well with Jock’s art. Every scene is washed in dominant colors, from warm, autumnal orange and yellows in the stage-setting sections, to bruising purples and blues during the nighttime terrors. He employs a neat effect where color is splashed across the panel, like a digital paintbrush. It creates visual accents that are almost violent during moments of action. In the quieter moments, such as the opening sequence, the effect is quite chilling.
BOTTOM LINE: PLEDGED IS PLEDGED
I initially read Wytches #1 the best sort of mood, late at night, in a sleepy, dreamy sort of state, and I got proper freaked out. Re-reading it in the full light of day proves that it still holds up. I don’t give out five star reviews lightly; Wytches #1 deserves every single one. It’s a heartfelt, well-made horror comic, rife with stunning scenes which will sit with the reader long after the issue has been put down. My expectations for this book was high, and Snyder, Jock and Hollingsworth met every single one. I have no idea where Wytches is going, but I am definitely in for the ride. Check it out.