Writer(s): Scott snyder.
Colourist(s): Matt Hollingsworth.
Letterer(s): Clem Robins.
Publisher: Image Comics.
Release Date: June 24th, 2015.
My Overall Rating:
Ever felt like there were eyes constantly watching over your shoulders, as if some evil entity was hiding in the shadows, carefully biding its time until the right moment to crawl out of the darkness and take hold of your very essence? Vulnerable, defenseless, and, oftentimes, oblivious, to their existence, the only comfort that one can find is within their own mind, slowly closing yourself off from the outside world, building up walls to embrace a semblance of peace and security. For some ancient beings, there’s nothing more satisfying than prey that subconsciously self-destructs, finds itself digging its own little grave, and steers away any innocent help it gets from its loved ones. Devised from a personal experience of falsely perceiving something sinister in a nearby forest upon a visit to a childhood spot where he used to make up stories about a family of Satanists living in a Pennsylvania forest, writer Scott Snyder teams up with artist Jock to deliver a haunting six-issues story that reimagines the lore and fright born of wytches while beautifully capturing the core emotions tying together a traumatized family.
What is Wytches? The story follows the young Sailor Rook and her family as they move to the remote town of Litchfield, NH after a terrifying incident with a vicious bully leaves them haunted and traumatized. With speculations growing that Sailor might have killed this bully, starting over seemed like the right decision for everyone. Unfortunately, these secrets cling to their lives and continue to torment them in their daily routine. What they didn’t know is that this town also hides secrets of its own, secrets that lurk in the woods, secrets that wait until people are pledged as sacrifices to these strange and ancient beings they call wytches before revealing themselves to the world.
“You are fucking strong. You are a slayer of mythological animals.”— Scott Snyder
There’s so much potential in this horror story. What writer Scott Snyder achieves is a fantastic blend of family drama with the additional pleasure, or horror, of supernatural terror, effortlessly spiking the stakes and forcing the Rook family to confront difficult situations and make hard decisions that can allow them to remain united rather than apart. How he also builds up the tension with the mysterious evil forces at work within this town is also terrifyingly fascinating, offering a unique and original take on the lore around wytches. Unfortunately, the narrative development is at times sporadic, forcing the reader to tag along without necessarily being in sync with the pacing or the raison d’être of some of the story-telling clauses. Had there been more issues or volumes in this limited comic book series, the story could’ve easily avoided indulging some of these fatal plot weaknesses.
The eerie artistic style embraced by Jock and complimented by colourist Matt Hollingsworth gives the story a gloomy and torturous edge. With several instances of shadows used to hide evil intent, facial expressions portraying pain and suffering, as well as stylistic angles that offer a unique perspective of mayhem and terror, the rough artwork, often covered in a translucent layer of spilled blood and visual mayhem, help convey a sense of fear and the unknown quite masterfully. The colour pallet utilized to bring this story to life is also unique and sincerely conveys the psychological turmoil experienced by the characters but its the narrative’s overall sense of incompleteness that pulls down on the graphic novel’s absolute success.
Wytches is a meager yet haunting and spellbinding story beautifully capturing the terror of hidden evil, the complexity of parental relationships, and the desperation for rebirth.