After tragic circumstances force the Rooks family to relocate to a more rural setting, the family’s pain is only extended when they realise their daughter, through mysterious means, has been pledged to a sect of supernatural creatures. The why becomes less important when weighed up against protecting the family from creatures and humans alike.
Writer, Scott Snyder, has been making big waves over at DC comics for some time now, if Geoff Johns was their resident Brian Michael Bendis, then I think it’s fair to say that Snyder could comfortably be seen as their Matt Fraction, a respected writer who made his name on the creator owned smash hit, American Vampire, before turning just as many heads with his Batman work in the DC universe.
This reviewer, not being known for reading a great amount of DC’s current output, was only aware of Snyder’s output through force of reputation, but when word got out that he was teaming up with the excellent Scottish artist, Jock, to have another creator owned swing at yet another horror stalwart with a twist, well, this time I thought I’d get in at the ground floor.
And glad I am because it turns out to be a remarkably interesting and original approach to the oft-used horror/folk/fairy tale baddies that are known as witches, or Wytches to be more accurate.
Gone are the cackling, crooked nosed, gingerbread house dwelling hags of old, replaced here by horrific creatures of near indescribable grotesqueness, who’s motives and abilities are equally grotesque, if wrapped in many layers of mystery.
Snyder has done a wonderful job of reinterpreting the more recognisable elements of witchiness while crafting an original mythology, but with this he has also created a cast of characters with a rich backstory that is both engaging and more and more relevant to the world they have been thrown into.
It’s true that the depths of the horror and character seem fully covered in this one volume, seemingly leaving little to be explored in future volumes, but the skill in which the story is pulled off, along with a final few pages that opens the world to any number of possibilities, would suggest otherwise, even if I can’t tell for the life of me where the story could be going.
Jock, best known for co-creating The Losers and any number of wonderfully designed covers, attacks the pencilling and inking duties with his usual loose and frenetic style, his rapid inking brush generating infinite textures while somehow still retaining a sturdy storytelling style.
Not quite so successful in its intensions are Matt Hollingsworth’s colours. Just as raw as Jocks images, the colouring does a great job of relaying a tone of abstraction and chaos, but at times the layered splatter filters covering each and every page, become SO pronounced that they obscure and confuse the finished image. It’s a little harsh to say, but, given the evidence in the volume’s bonus material, it’s almost a shame the art wasn’t just left as Jock’s black and white pages.
Still, distracting effects aside, if you get along with scrappier approaches to comic art, there’s a lot to be enjoyed.
On the whole Wytches is an intriguing and original new series with written and drawn storytelling that is both well crafted and, occasionally, genuinely shocking. The story is never obvious, most especially by the end of the volume, but it most certainly will be worth your time and money following its ins and outs.