There’s no denying that Scott Snyder is a “hot” name in the world of comics, so it only makes sense that we would tackle his newest series Wytches from Image Comics. You may recall that Image was pretty pumped to have this series and it seems like a few of our writers were as well. That said each of the writers participating in the group review are going to give you their score and thoughts for the first issue. Across the globe, century after century, men and women were burned, drowned, hanged, tortured, imprisoned, persecuted, and murdered for witchcraft. None of them were witches. They died protecting a terrible and hidden truth: witches, real witches, are out there. They are ancient, elusive, and deadly creatures that are rarely seen and even more rarely survived.
Wytches #1 has to be my favorite horror comic of the year ... if not the beginning of what could be my favorite of all time. Time will tell on that score, but the intro of this book alone churned my guts like no other has in living memory. The story that follows is horrid and shameful and tragic; emotive, terrifying and disgusting. It makes you jump with three or four immediate scares, while also setting up a longer, deeper terror that will inevitably resonate as the series progresses.
The dynamic in the Rooks family is just as great, though for completely opposite reasons, which of course makes their situation even worse. Altogether, it’s another great chapter in Snyder’s impressive body of horror books, though I do think this may already be his best. I don’t use the phrase often, but thanks to its expert mix of psychological and physical horror, I have to say that Wytches is contemporary comics’ most blood-curdling book.
Of course, with Jock involved, the art will stick with you as long as the story. No offense to Matt Hollingsworth, but on considering what this book could look like with Jock’s inventive use of black and white (with a more sparing splattering of color, maybe) I can’t help but think it might be that much more chilling. The only other “problem” I had was that I felt like it ended a hair too early. The cliffhanger was good, but stopped short of being completely satisfying. Then again, maybe that’s just because I want more of Wytches right now.
Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches is one of the most oppressively dark comic books I’ve read in a long time, but it elevates itself through that to become an incredibly impressive piece. The book reminded me of Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist from a few years ago—it’s an incredibly skilled and proficient piece that deals with some of the ugliest things the authors can come up with in an artistic way. It doesn’t help that they both have horrifying things coming out of the body of a deer.
The issue itself is not terrifying in the sense that things jump out at you, that page turns try to scare you. Honestly, I don’t think that would be a format that comics would lend themselves to, by virtue of the fact that you can dwell as long as you like in a comic. This issue deals with slow burns and horrifying visuals, as well as intense scenarios that seem like they could happen in real life, and that makes them worse. A scene in the woods at the midpoint of the issue is one of the most horrifying things I’ve seen in a comic, and it’s almost entirely devoid of supernatural elements. It seems like Snyder and Jock are going to dwell a lot on what makes humans do bad things for a variety of reasons, and I am very into that.
Jock’s artwork is stellar, as per usual. He strikes a good balance between realism for the home scenes and more expressionist work for the scenes involving the Wytches themselves. His layouts are fantastic, his colors are subdued and effective... it’s great all around.
My only issue is that the main character’s name is Sailor Rook. It’s the Fifth Element problem—“Corben Dallas?... Really?” I can’t let that keep me down, though, the rest of the book is entirely worth it.
Prior to finding out about this group review I had no intention of picking up Wytches #1, because unlike most comic-book readers I’m not a big fan of Scott Snyder’s work. I find that Snyder is great at most aspects of crafting a good story – he can write an exciting opening, good dialogue, and interesting characters – however, in my opinion the man cannot satisfyingly finish a story. His first two New 52 Batman arcs, “The Court of Owls,” and “Death of the Family,” both include some great moments however they also both have endings that I saw as very anticlimactic. More recently I found this to be the case with his Vertigo limited series, The Wake. I loved each and every instalment of that book up until the final one where I was left feeling really disappointed with how things ended.
Now I know I’m in the minority here, and if you disagree with me that’s absolutely fine, but these opinions I hold made me apprehensive about picking up yet another Snyder book. And as much I like Wytches #1, that apprehensive feeling hasn’t left me yet. But before I get into that I should say that I do think this is a great debut for this series. Jock is one of my favourite artists, he consistently delivers beautiful work and this book is no exception. Not to mention that Wytches is exactly the kind of book that he is suited to, a dark story of black magic and murder. Jock’s artwork makes the scary scenes feel suitably claustrophobic and intense, whilst even the bright scenes have a sense of eeriness about them thanks to the wonderful colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
As for the writing itself, it’s perfectly solid. The main character, Sail, is likeable if not hugely memorable just yet, and the supporting cast is full of characters I’d be interested to see fleshed out in later instalments. However, as well-made as this first issue is, I can’t help but worry that the destination we’re heading towards will be yet another disappointment. I love the mysterious scenes in this book, but I can’t stop thinking that when these moments are eventually elaborated on I’m going to end up feeling short-changed.
I’ve given this issue a 4/5, because on its own it is pretty great. If I didn’t have a bad history with Snyder’s books I would probably be all over this like a rash. However, I have never doubted Snyder’s ability to write an excellent opening chapter. What I do doubt is his ability to wrap up this book’s plot-threads in a satisfying way when it reaches its eventual conclusion. For that reason I’m not sure if I can pour more time and money into a Snyder book. For me when it comes to stories the destination is just as important as the journey, and if I don’t have faith that I’m going somewhere good, it may well end up preventing me from going at all.
Are you pledged? If you are and are a character in writer Scott Snyder and artist Jock’s creepy little opus to things that go bump in the night, then I must say that I would hate to be you. Basically, from the premise of issue #1 of Wytches, to be pledged is to be screwed. Not a regular run of the mill screwed mind you. But a game over, the end, eternal damnation and hellfire kind of screwed. It ain’t pretty. But what it is in this inaugural issue, is delightfully devilish, crazy creepy, and evilly excellent.
Reuniting the killer collaboration last seen in the Batman: The Black Mirror story arc, we have Snyder and Jock returning to a tale that is filled with darkness and chills galore that shows early promise to be a very good and solid story full of detail, morbid imagery, and fear.
Everything from front to back is well done. We get a shocking opening, a cool down period of exposition and characterization featuring the Rooks family, and most notably the daughter Sailor who has been relocated by her parents after an incident that occurred recently that was none too good. With a follow up building crescendo and smash ending that begs the reader to continue onward if they dare. We have only stepped foot just a little bit into this creepy and macabre locale. But it already is putting chills in your body kind like when you were a kid and you had to walk past that creepy old house that everybody told you stories about while it is dark outside.
Snyder is no stranger to horror. He has written on vampires, swampy rotten things, mer people and others during his ascendency into comic writing greatness. Jock too, is no stranger to creepy art as his Batman: The Black Mirror arc work was proof positive of how dark and moody a place like Gotham City can be. Putting the two back together and throwing them in a rustic, rural (and ominous) setting appears to be a perfect match made in Hell that resonates well throughout. I was hooked right from the beginning and look forward to returning soon albeit with a little more light on as I read.
Timing couldn’t be any better here as a fall Halloween season release. Wytches #1 brings the season in with a bang and a horn inviting all who will listen to come and feast on the flesh of something dark and foreboding. You should definitely pledge yourself to the commitment of reading this one. But be careful though…It might just bite back.
Yeah I know, I know. You’re thinking, “this dude doesn’t like anything.” Well that’s not true as the rest of my reviews will prove this week. I went into this story with an open mind. I actually really like Jock’s artwork so it’s an easy sell for me when he’s attached to something. The thing is… I’m not a Snyder fan.
Yeah, count me among the minority on that right? Everyone seems to love his Batman and his work at DC in general, but for me his stories reek of effort. I actually enjoyed the first half of his previous Image work Severed, until the midway point in which the series took a major nose dive. The same thing happened with American Vampire, great start… rough midpoint which drifted into me not caring. The point is Synder starts great… usually.
The premise is interesting in this story, but it goes for the jugular instantly. It’s attempting to be scary and real world frightening while still bring out this supernatural element. All the while I guess we’re supposed to care about the characters, but I just didn’t. The only time we’re with them, they’re “on” and that was pretty annoying. Also you can tell that Snyder hasn’t written swearing in a while as this book is filled with out-of-place cussing that didn’t build the characters mannerisms, but rather showed that Snyder could cuss in a book again and chose to do so… a lot. It’s actually a common thing that happens when a writer does non corporate work, but even though it’s common, it’s still frustrating and annoying to read.
This issue isn’t bad, but it isn’t good. There’s a ton of effort being poored into the story to make it interesting and for the first time in my life I didn’t care for Jock’s art on a book. His artwork was probably the wrong choice for the story, but the Detective Comics hookup was hard for Snyder to ignore. It was a story that forced itself to function rather than being an effortless collaboration. Frankly I thought the essay at the back was better than the actual issue.
Writer: Scott Snyder Artist: Jock Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 10/8/14 Format: Print/Digital