Wytches Vol. 1 (Review)

The other night, it was past my bed time, so at page 100 (about half way though) I closed my iPad and turned out the light. A few hours later, I woke up startled and sweating. I’d just had a nightmare and this is the image I saw:

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We start open in 1919, a woman is trapped inside a hollowed tree and can’t get out. She terrified (naturally) and screaming for help. Until a ray of hope comes along – her son. “…what are you doing here?” he asks, “Honey, please take that rock and help me get out of here.!” When the mother tells her son that she’s been “pledged” – he takes the rock and smashes her face in and says simply “Pledged is Pledged” as she is dragged deep into the hollow and away.

Fast forward to 2014; and Sailor Rooks a teenage girl, has returned to the town with her father and disabled mother. Her return stirs the mystery in the woods.

Scott Snyder has written a tale that’s genuinely frightening. It’s not massively original, there’s obvious elements here of The Blair Witch Project and The X Files episode “Die Hand Die Verletzt”, but that doesn’t matter because Snyder has managed to take the most intriguing elements from the genre and cut out all the shite.

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The strong prologue in issue #1 perfectly sets the tone for the full story, but where Wytches really excels is the artwork, which I was initially taken back by, it wasn’t until I’d woken up from my nightmare that it hit me why the artwork was so brilliant.

Between artist Jock, colourist Matt Hollingsworth and Clem Robins on letters, they have created artwork that draws you in, each layer designed to full you deeper into the darkness and it’s a wonderful style which fits the genre perfectly. It’s unlike anything that I’ve seen in recent times and it supports the tone that Snyder sets in the first few pages.

The flow from frame to frame is also cleverly constructed, no two frames align. As my eye passes from one to the next, my brain comfortably moves and as I’m reading this (late at night) with no sounds; just me alone in the bedroom.. I find myself suddenly looking up.. hearing CHHHIT CHHHHIIITTT CCHHHHIIITTT, it’s the equivalent as the unnerving throat sounds from Ju-On: The Grudge, which haunted me for many years. And my it’s infecting my over active imagination.

At its core, Wytches is a simple story of a fathers love for his daughter and the lengths he’ll go to as secrets are unearthed.

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Wytches is very good, but it is not without its faults. There are some psychological moments this work brilliantly, but then others that try and falter. The use of water is very symptomatic of Japanese horror, but in Wytches the use did little to add to the story of characterisation. And, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but it was only on the second read through that I realised who one of the key characters was. (but we’ll blame that on my sheer stupidity)

The art style has divided some readers, but I’m on the pro side, and the story is great, apart from being unoriginal and with a few pacing issues, but I am clutching at straws here. Wytches has proven that horror can work in this medium, since it’s failed on so many occasions.

Wytches is published by Image Comics and the first volume collected issues 1 -6.

In October 2015, Season 2 was teased.. and I can’t wait.. only this time, probably wont read it just before going to sleep…

 

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