Anytime I see Scott Snyder’s name attached to any comic book, my interest is immediately piqued. When I started reading his work steadily a few years ago, he quickly became (and I don’t say this lightly) my favorite person in comics. His writing has forever changed, for the better, the long standing characters of Batman and Swamp Thing. His creator-owned books such as Severed and American Vampire have made an incredible impact on the world of horror comics. This brings us to Snyder’s first work at Image Comics since 2012.
Like any great scary story the world of Wytches is one in a believable, real-world setting with normal people doing normal things. These people are gradually touched by the supernatural; strange occurrences, unexplainable deaths and disappearances and the like. The first issue introduces us to some of the main characters. Our protagonist, Sailor “Sail” Rooks, her father Charles, a creator of a graphic novel series and her mother Lucy, recently paralyzed from the waist down in an unnamed accident. They’re a regular American family except that Sail is suffering from anxiety and paranoia caused by a horrific incident just months prior.
In this first issue there isn’t too much emphasis on the evil that will come to terrorize these characters. There are some great scary moments and just a morsel of back story, but it mostly focused on setting up who our characters are and what’s currently plaguing their thoughts. Like all great tales of terror, Wytches allows the story and characters to grow without showing us too much of what lurks in the dark right away.
While reading this book I was reminded of many things such as the works of Stephen King, (a favorite of mine and a huge inspiration to Snyder’s entire career) The X-Files, The Twilight Zone and even various Spielberg films. While I’m sure these and other bits of pop culture have influenced Snyder, no one in particular stood out while reading this book. And honestly, it’s probably my own encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture that allowed me to draw these connections in the first place. At no point is there a moment that I felt could have been ripped-off from another creator. It has a great sense of familiarity without feeling like you’ve sat through this story before.
After reading this issue I did a little research on it. Snyder actually came up with the idea after revisiting a wooded area in Pennsylvania near his childhood home. He was frightened of it growing up and he and his friends would make up stories about evil things that would happen out there. Upon going back as an adult he came up with a new spin on witches and witchcraft lore and thus this series was born.
Working once again with famed artist Jock, this creative team builds a world that is real and just about steps into the fantastic. Jock’s art has a way of keeping us grounded in an everyday setting while taking our subconscious on a stroll through dream-like, or in this case nightmare-like, sensations and moods. I attribute this directly to his use of shapes and shading, but here it is Matt Hollingsworth’s use of color that allows Jock’s initial vision to truly take hold and come to life.
Issue one was a great introduction to the series and I really look forward to what comes next. I highly recommend picking this one up. If it’s anything like Snyder’s previous horror comics it should leave you with a sense of wonderment, a sick/somber feeling in the pit of your stomach and allow you to remember why you were once afraid of the dark. On top of being a great issue, it’s a hefty 30 pages long with NO advertisements to disrupt the storytelling. Can’t beat that for $2.99. Also if you’re up to it and your local shop is selling it, there is an awesome Ghost Variant cover for this issue. I was able to get it for $5.00, but I’ve seen some stores selling it for $10-$15.
Wytches #1 is published by Image Comics and is available everywhere comic books are sold.
*New York Comic Con Update* – It was announced this weekend that the film rights are being shopped around so we may be seeing a big screen adaptation within the next few years.