Warning: This review contains spoilers.
More than any other genre, horror is perhaps the most difficult to execute in the comic book medium. This should come as no surprise, as it relies on interacting with more senses beyond vision. The effect of sounds on the horror experience has been proven to play an integral role. For example, the classic film Halloween lacks teeth without John Carpenter’s memorable score. Fall entertainment, such as “haunted houses” and corn mazes, provide further stimulation for the senses, including smell and touch. For these reasons, Wytches #1 is a genuine achievement through Jock’s terrifying imagery and Scott Snyder’s disturbing script.
Wytches opens one of the more disturbing sequences in recent memory. Though its events take place nearly one hundred years before the main narrative, it provides enough information for the reader to understand the rules of this world. It also sets the tone for the series going forward, courtesy of Jock’s dark, impressionistic artwork. The scratchy aesthetic is applied to a wooded setting, and as the panels progress, a face appears in the knot of a tree desperately calling for help.
Jock, joined by colorist Matt Hollingsworth, does a masterful manipulating the reader’s perception. In the aforementioned opening, it the panels zoom in on the tree knot in question. Most artists would ensure that continuity is maintained from panel to panel – instead Jock goes against conventional wisdom and adds little differences. The purpose of this is twofold. First, simulates how the changing angle of light alters the look of a forest during sunset. Secondly, it places the reader outside their comfort zone – pushing them beyond their expectations for traditional sequential artwork. Inherently, the reader is on edge before the true horrors make an appearance.
If not for the kind and approachable demeanor he displays in interviews, one might think there’s something wrong with Scott Snyder’s mental state. Aside from Superman Unchained and the recently concluded “Zero Year” arc inBatman, his stories deliciously twisted. In Wytches he delivers some of his most unsettling work. A deer wanders into someone’s house to throw up its own tongue. A bully is broken in half and sucked into a whole in a tree — this after they threatened another teen with the use of a knife on their genitals. The most true pace-setter sees a mother – trying to escape from the titular creatures – having her face bashed in by her own child because “pledged is pledged.”
Wytches #1 is a near-perfect marriage of writing and artwork. Between Scott Snyder’s tightly wound script and Jock’s disturbing imagery, this looks to be the best horror title on the market today. Fans of the horror genre, and fans of great storytelling in general, need to read this.
Note: This review was originally published at InfiniteComix.com