Wytches #1 was one of my most anticipated books for this month. It’s written by Scott Snyder, a fantastic writer with a flair for horror comics, and drawn by Jock, one of my favorite artists of all time. The two had previously collaborated on the critically acclaimed Batman: The Black Mirror and their newest project from Image Comics promised even greater things. Wytches #1 delivers on that promise.
After a deeply disturbing opening set a hundred years in the past, the story settles on the Rooks Family in the present day. They’ve moved to a remote town and their daughter Sailor is starting at a new school. The story line is split between her father Charlie and Sailor, both struggling to deal with the past. Sailor’s been through some unspeakable trauma, which echoes throughout the story. Charlie just wants to see his daughter recover and it’s weighing on him heavily. All the while there’s something living in the woods, something that seems very interested in the Rooks family.
Scott Snyder deserves a lot of credit for taking the concept of a witch and completely reworking it to fit his vision. These aren’t cackling hags riding broomsticks or seductive enchantresses. Snyder’s witches tower over humans, their long pale fingers ending in talons. They live inside the trees and drag their victims inside, leaving only a bloody trail behind. Witches are scary again.
The writing throughout the issue is solid. It stumbles a little bit when we’re being introduced to the Rooks, but it comes together nicely once we’re familiar with the family. The pacing of the issue works to build plenty of tension for the reader. There are only very short bursts of horror, but Snyder’s built them up so well that they’re more than enough. I’ll be interested to see if the horror moments take a more central role in future issues. The mystery that the issue centers around is laid out expertly, with Snyder answering some questions and posing even bigger ones. The final page brings everything together in an ending that is guaranteed to bring everyone back next issue.
The art of this book could not be better suited to the tone of the story. Jock’s brings a lot of the book’s unnerving moments to life with his use of heavy shadows and some innovative layouts. His line work in the horror sections make the panels striking and more than a little unsettling. His character design work is mostly solid, with the witches and Sailor standing out as particularly good. I did find the facial expressions of Charlie Rooks a little strange looking in the close-ups. Colorist Matt Hollingsworth does a great job of maximizing the effectiveness of Jock’s work, with violent splashes of color amid deep shadow. This is a book that’s worth going through twice to admire the panels.
Wytches #1 is an incredible start to the series. This is exactly the kind of book you’d want for the month of October. It’s a well-written and beautifully drawn horror comic that’s legitimately scary. And its only just begun.