Last night I read the first volume of Wytches, the ongoing graphic novel series from Scott Snyder. I bought it on a recommendation from my best friend who, if I’m honest, is pretty much responsible for all the cool shit I’m into. And, as ever, I wasn’t disappointed.
This captivating horror comic begins in the year 1919, with a woman seemingly trapped in a tree, and quite anxious to be out of it. Her young son appears before her, and asks where she is been. She replies that someone ‘pledged her to them’ and begs him to break her free. There is a sense of urgency here; something big and bad is coming, and it’s coming fast. Yet instead of helping his mother, the boy grabs a rock and unexpectedly uses it to bash her across the head. He looks at her and chillingly says ‘pledged is pledged.’ before something grabs her and drags her into the dark.
Now I don’t know about you, but right away I wanted to read more. Who, or what was our victim referring to when she said them? And how it is possible that a simple word like pledged could carry such menace?
Jump forward to the year 2014, and we are introduced to the Rooks family. Young Sailor is about to begin her first say at a new school, and she is understandably nervous, but not just for the usual reasons – though her anxiety does play a large role in this comic. The thirteen year old protagonist carries the weight of a dark past on her shoulders, and as the story continues, we learn more about her, and why her family made the move to a new town. But things in their new home are not going to be a smooth as they hope, and something is lurking in the nearby woods, something menacing and deeply evil. And that something wants Sailor.
The thing I liked about Wytches is that, aside from being a well written and awesomely illustrated horror comic, there were some great themes as well. Sailor fights a constant battle with her anxiety, and must face up to a particularly nasty bully. Her father, Charlie, struggles with guilt over incidents in the family’s past, and like any father, worries about his daughter, and his ability to be a good parent. The underlying themes in this comic add a cool spin to the plot, because it makes the story easy to relate to and adds a great contrast to the whole notion of evil and the perhaps more fantastic aspects of the series.
Snyder’s simultaneously creepy and engrossing story, coupled with the gritty illustrations by Jock, and Matt Hollingsworth’s dark, moody colours, make Wytches a thoroughly enjoyable read, and worth the time of any person who calls themselves a horror fiction fan. 4.5 stars for me, and the only reason it didn’t get a full five is because I felt the story in parts to be slightly rushed. But otherwise, an excellent beginning to what I hope will be a long running series.