‘Wytches’ #2 – that rarest of accomplishments in a genre notorious for repetition

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Wytches-2Wytches #2
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Clem Robins
Publisher: Image Comics

  • A busload of children disappears in the woods. A strange bite grows on a girl’s neck. And the wytches are getting closer, creeping from the woods.

The first issue of the massively successful Wytches provides readers with a solid foundation while leaving us with a cliffhanger and excited for more. This issue finds Sailor trying to cope with the aftermath of her traumatic attack, while her parents attempt to search for answers to what’s happened to their daughter. Wytches #2 doesn’t reveal exactly what crashed through Sailor’s window at the end of the last issue, but it does show us how it continues to effect her mind and body. Scott Snyder lets the aftermath of that event brew throughout this issue while opening the doors to new mysterious and the unknown. It’s one of Snyder’s strong points; not relying too heavily on exposition – and taking the reader by the hand and guiding them every step of the way. One of the challenges with writing horror and fantasy is introducing not only the world itself, but background needed to set the stage for what’s to come. Snyder is a master at avoiding overly expository dialogue. Taking the concepts that were set-up in the first issue, and expanding on them, this second issue is a cunningly conceived and crafted exercise in suggestibility and terror.

wytches-2-rooksIf it wasn’t hard enough for Sailor to try to fit in at school, she must now must deal with the growing lesion on her neck, a laceration which appears to have both physical and psychological effects on her well being. Wytches #2 relies heavily on a sense of body horror and that element alone compels us to sympathize with and root for her character. Supernatural themes can be daunting, but body horror—with its focus on degeneration, mutation, or mutilation of flesh—affects the reader on a gut level.

Snyder has established himself as an accomplished storyteller, both in the mainstream with Batman and Superman Unchained, and on indie genre titles such as The Wake and Severed. He seems to especially excel in the horror genre and in exploring human relationships set against supernatural or extraordinary events. The majority of this issue focuses not on the uncanny, but rather the emotional toll it has on the Rooks family. The presence of the supernatural is present throughout, but it is not the main focus.

The art by Jock is as expected, extraordinary. His sketchy layouts and framing allow for an immersive tone, especially in building towards the big reveal at the end. Meanwhile, Matt Hollingsworth’s colours, and his elaborate splashes are equally striking. Snyder ties in the current children’s book Charlie is writing at the start. The prologue itself is a mystery; a story within a story, a nightmare in endlessly reflecting mirrors, and a place where time can stand still. With the Rooks family beginning to unravel, issue two raises more questions than it answers, and although the payoff is ambiguous, the experience remains in the mind.

Wytches is absolutely restrained and truly original, from a creative team who knows how to the use the ingredients of the genre to their full potential. Wytches is that rarest of accomplishments in a field notorious for tedium and repetition. There is a new face of horror and its name is Wythces.

– Ricky D



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