Release Date: October 8, 2014
Witches are out there, and, as writer Scott (Batman, The Wake) Snyder has been teasing all year, they will take wickedness to new levels. Forget Sabrina and Hermione: this is ancient evil lurking in the dark. In the first issue, we’re introduced to the Rooks family, average folks looking for a fresh start in a new town. There’s the cartoonist father, wheelchair-bound mother and, oh yeah, a daughter traumatized by unspeakable horror. No one believes the morbid events she witnessed, of course, but that’ll no doubt change when the nightmare begins.
While this first issue lays the basic groundwork, the hints of horror are as dark as they are profoundly ominous. Snyder weaves a deep tension throughout the issue, revealing just enough to tantalize your brain’s creep receptors. Start to finish, Wytches is like watching the glass of water shake in Jurassic Park. Snyder knows that terrors unseen are the most dreadful and that fear thrives in the murk, and that’s where he keeps us for the time being. And I hope we stay there for a while.
On the visual front, penciller Jock and colorist Matt Hollingsworth bound seamlessly from the warm hues of safety to inky, monster-laden forests. Whether they’re splattering down rain or blood, a pastel-tinted sky or a gloomy backdrop, the artists render textures that are simply impeccable. There’s a visual depth that other comics just don’t have. By the last few pages, the pair cements its bleak and deeply menacing aesthetic so thoroughly, you can’t help but wonder if this book could exist without it.
Wytches has been one of Image’s most anticipated new titles since the publisher announced it back in January, and if there’s a problem with this first issue it’s that it just isn’t enough. Snyder and Jock lead us slowly up to the top of the roller coaster, poised to dive headfirst into madness, and leave us hanging there. The massive cliffhanger ultimately bodes well for the series, however, because it’s exactly that level of suspense that may distinguish Wytches from the rest of the horror stock.