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Image Comics Reading Recommendations

REVIEW: Wytches Volume 1 – It Will Scare Your Pants Off

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Written by Scott Snyder. Art by Jock. Colours by Matt Hollingsworth. Letters by Clem Robins. Published by Image Comics.

Horror is a hard to do in comics. Unlike film or even video games, comics solely rely on what’s on the page and what the creators can do build your imagination. Many horror comics fall flat as they either show too much too quickly or don’t get all the elements right. Wytches by writer Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing) and artist Jock (The Losers, Green Arrow: Year One) succeeds on so many levels at being not only a good horror comic, but one that will scare your pants off. It might actually be one of the scariest comics I’ve ever read.

Wytches Volume 1 cover by Jock.

After some tragic incidents, The Rooks family decided they need to relocate to escape the misfortune of their recent history and start fresh. The problem is there’s something even worse waiting for them when they arrive at the remote town of Litchfield – Wytches. The trouble really starts when the daughter, Sailor, is haunted by these creatures, and her past. This is because she has been pledged to the Wytches and once you’ve been pledged you’re not safe. Pledged is pledged.

It’s established very early on that these aren’t the witches you know and have seen before. All expectation about what the Wytches are is thrown out of the window in the first two pages. The first page showing the dictionary definitions of the word “witch”, but when you turn the page it’s revealed that this definition has been violently scratched out. It’s a fantastic way to set the tone and to distance the reader from the preconceived notions of a witch. What we get instead are ancient and horrible creatures, that lurk in the shadow and full of violent blood lust.

But instead of just showing the Wytches straight away the reader is given only glimpse of them. This is done in a a variety of manners, from hiding them in the shadows to showing them from only a distance in the woods. Another way this has been done is through Matt Hollingsworth’s colouring in which he has overlayed paint splatters on the page, with more intense pages receiving heaver splatter. These techniques work fantastic as it forces the reader fill in the gaps with their imagination for what they can’t see.

Wytches is also full of mystery, which Snyder has paced out rather well to build the suspense. By giving the readers details only as they need them he keeps the readers on the edge of their seat as they enter the unknown. It also, makes the comic unpredictable as situations are not spelled out for you – unlike some horror films.

But it wouldn’t be half as scary if you didn’t care for the characters. There’s the father, Charlie, a writer of children’s books, but also known for not being the best father at times. It’s through his attempts at writing his past wrongs and way he worries for his family that makes you want to see him succeed. There’s also Sailor, who we also learn to care about by learning about her past and seeing her experience of being pledged.

Wytches #4 page 2 by Jock.

To top it all off, Wytches features fantastic art. Jock’s designs for the Wytches are terrifying and look like something out of a nightmare. This is especially true in an early reveal at one which is crouching in a tree just outside a bedroom window. That image is one that gives me chills every time I think about it. He also excels, with the aide of Hollingsworth’s colours, at creating eerie environments for the Wytches to hide in. This helps create mood and the darkness of it lets the readers imagination go wild.

In conclusion, Wytches volume 1 has all the right elements working in tandem to make one hell of a scary horror comic. By taking away the readers exceptions as early as possible in conjunction with characters you care about, mystery and haunting art, Snyder and Jock have been able to create their own horrors both on the page and in the readers mind. If you’re a fan of horror done right, without the cheap thrills, then Wytches is a must read.

Wytches Volume 1 collects Wytches #1-6 and is available digitally and at all good comic book stores now. If you’re still not sure about Wytches you can read Wytches #1 for free here.

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