Written by: Scott Snyder
Illustrated by: Jock
Colored by: Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Edited by: Davis Brothers
Published by: Image Comics
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
It makes perfect sense that there would be a pull quote from Stephen King on the cover of the collected edition of Wytches. That’s because Wytches plays out very much like a typical Stephen King novel. In many ways that’s a good thing and in some ways that’s a bad thing. Scott Snyder hits many of the same themes that King has explored in some of his novels (a family starting over after several tragedies, a father’s search for redemption in the eyes of his family, a troubled teen attempting to uncover a disturbing secret that haunts her) and wraps up those themes to craft a tale that is very much his own but will feel somewhat familiar to fans of the horror genre.
Wytches centers around the Rook family who are attempting to rebuild their lives in a new town after a terrible event has shattered their lives. Sailor, the only daughter, is suspected of murder after she attempts to defend herself from a bully who had been harassing her at her old school for several months. I say suspected because no one can find the bully’s actual body anywhere. All anyone knows is that Sailor and said Bully confronted each other in the woods and the only one who emerged was Sailor. When she tried to tell anyone what happened, no one would believe her, because all Sailor could tell them was that her tormentor had swallowed by the forest that surrounded them.
This forms the basis for Wytches which turns out to be an entertaining and suspenseful little horror tale. Wytches is a bit slow to start but once it gets moving it definitely doesn’t come to a stop until it’s incredibly entertaining climax. The actual story itself is, as I said, a little typical of the the horror genre but Snyder manages to keep it interesting by fleshing out the main characters and presenting a completely original and incredibly creepy antagonist to torture his characters with. The narrative moves along quickly once the basic outline of the plot becomes established and I found myself captivated by the tale that unfolded in this book. I will admit that I almost stopped reading Wytches after I didn’t find it a compelling read from the start but I’m glad I stuck with it because it grew into a story I very much enjoyed by the end of the book.
Jock’s artwork is powerful and yet somewhat frustrating at the same time. There can be no doubt that Jock is an amazing artist but he’s a craftsman who lets his slightly overdone style trump his storytelling ability. Jock is able to set the tone perfectly in the book filling his pages with a mood entirely suited for the horror tale he is attempting to tell. The problem is that he has a tendency to get too wrapped up in the chaotic nature of his own art. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s Jock himself that’s at fault or the colorist. My biggest problem with that art in the book is that I found some of the coloring technique to be a bit over rendered. There is a watercolor method that is applied to Jock’s pages, which I assume is applied via Photoshop using blending modes, that detracts from the crispness of his art. The back of the book actually has some of Jock’s work uncolored and it is more impactful and direct than anything else in the comic. I almost wish that Wytches had been done straight up in black and white as the watercolor process and the coloring really pull focus from the story being told on the page. I get that Jock and Holligsworth were going for a sense of anarchy within the story but there is such a thing as too much chaos and some pages just come across as a bit sloppy and unclear because of it.
But all in all Snyder and Jock deliver a pretty good horror yarn. Is it the scariest comic I’ve ever read? No, definitely not, but it’s successful in all the right places…and was engaging enough to keep me interested throughout. Wytches is worth a read if you appreciate atmospheric horror. It also has the added benefit of introducing a somewhat new monster to the horror genre. One that’s original and creepy enough that it’ll have you second guessing that stroll through the woods next time you’re visiting relatives in the ‘burbs. Wytches is worth a Halloween read…especially on those dark, windy, fall nights in the country when the sun sets early and the night offers nothing but odd noises to keep you company.
#ImageComics, #Horror, #HorrorComics, #IndieComics, #ScottSnyder, #Jock, #MattHollingsworth