Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches #2 isn’t so much a book filled with scares as it is a building sense of unsettling feelings, all combined into one big comic book. It’s delightful in the most uncomfortable possible way. Sailor Rooks is still afraid of the things that live in the woods (rightly so). One of them came into her room and left something in her neck in the middle of the night, and she’s the only one who can feel what it really is. A lot of this is the stuff that really sets Wytches apart from Snyder’s American Vampire. In American Vampire, you can rely on a lot of jump-out-and-scare-you moments alongside his world-building and mythology, but in Wytches, he’s relying heavily on a sense of body horror and atmosphere; American Vampire’s atmosphere is good, but the atmosphere in Wytches is so oppressive and pervading that it merits its own discussion.
A case could be made to compare this book to The Blair Witch Project. It takes place in a darkened wood more often than not, it features an ancient evil that people assume is a legend, and we as an audience rarely catch more than a glimpse of that evil before it does away with our heroes. The difference here is that we can cut away from the people like Sailor in constant danger to people like Sailor’s dad, who manages to deliver exposition about how they came to move to New Hampshire without it coming off as “let me tell you a thing you already know about how we got here.” It’s one of Snyder’s strong points; his exposition is always interesting and meted out in a nice trickle. We also get a scene with Sailor’s mother in the hospital where we start to find out that maybe the Rooks family has been having wytch trouble for longer than we’d expected.
Jock continues to shine in this issue, as we all expected. His sketchy linework really helps to sell a lot of the nightmarish stuff in the issue, especially the big reveal at the end. His real coup for this book is his use of color and, I don’t know what to call them except “splotches” on the pages. It gives the book a feeling like a found artifact, like these people came before us and had experiences with the wytches that did not end well, and we found their story. Reading it can only bring us knowledge and more trouble. The splotching can get a little distracting at times—especially when it’s a domestic scene of two people talking in a house. Nothing horrifying happens, so while they’re discussing, your eye gets drawn to the splotch patterns. I don’t know that there’s a rhyme or reason to them, but I spent a couple pages trying to figure that out.
Wytches is giving out exactly what we need every month as far as a creepy-crawly book. I thought a lot of the reason the first issue worked so well was the fact that it came out close to Halloween, and got an extra spooky-boost. I’m glad to report from November, in a post-Halloween world, that the book is still extremely eerie and well-worth picking up.
Writer: Scott Snyder Artist: Jock Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/12/14 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital