Comic Book Review: Wytches #1
Scott Snyder and Jock create a spooky vision for the truth about witches in their creator-owned Image series Wytches.
By introducing his new series with a definition of the word “witch”, Scott Snyder already had me guessing as to whether or not he would use the time-honored lore of the genre or go off the rails completely. Of course, he answers that question almost immediately when the following page shows the very definition violently scratched out. The plot of Wytches begins in the year 1919, where a young woman peers out from the belly of a tree. The woman, who is seemingly trapped, yells into the darkened forest for help. When her young son appears, the obvious assumption is that he will somehow attempt to save her. However, the boy does no such thing and he proceeds to knock his own mother out with a rock after reminding her that she is “pledged”. The woman is then apparently crushed or devoured by something lurking within the tree. At this point, I became increasingly aware that this, in fact, will NOT be anything close to a typical cauldron-churning witch story.
The meat of the story flash-forwards to present day and a young girl named Sailor Rook. Sailor struggles with starting at a new school and wonders aloud if her new classmates know about Sailor’s connection to the disappearance of a bully at her previous school. A beast of a girl named Annie clearly spent her free time torturing young Sailor. Sail (as she’s known by her parents) believes wholeheartedly she witnessed a tree devour Annie and thinks maybe she had something to do with it, either by wishing for it or just wanting it too much. With that, we have our connection to the opening story of the woman in the tree, and something is afoot in the woods.
Scott Snyder is a master at setting up horror and dread. He does a splendid job of introducing a vicious and mysterious beast in the creepy, shadowy woods. The story hits hard with a well structured, character-driven plot, and creates an instant emotional attachment to young Sailor. Snyder also sets up a believable setting in both the town and adjoining creepy forest, establishing a backdrop for the insanity that is surely about to ensue. Jock continues to create original artwork that develops the plot and utilizes his immense abilities with shadows and shading seen in similar works like Batman and Hellblazer. His creativity truly shines through when drawing rain, blood and, strangely enough, eyebrows – the man draws some killer facial expressions. Additionally, Matt Hollingsworth’s color choices are new and fresh, reminding me of a saturated photo negative that only adds to the eerie tone Wytches easily creates.
While it didn’t necessarily have me looking over my shoulder, Wytches certainly stayed with me far after reading it. I certainly don’t plan on venturing into the woods alone anytime soon. Pick Wytches #1 up now, but remember – pledged is pledged.