Wytches #2

Wytches is good and makes me think D.C. should’ve used Scott Snyder in their efforts to reach out to more girlish audiences. The following re-post is a little out of date now, but this review appeared a couple weeks ago at Newsarama, in the Best Shots column.


Wytches #2
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jock and Matt Hollingsworth
Lettering by Clem Robins
Published by Image
Review by Lilith Wood
Rating: 8 out of 10

Wytches feels very close to real life for a story featuring primeval crones lurking the woods. This second issue keeps the momentum rolling and ratchets up the foreboding as we learn more about the Rooks family and the town they moved to. This creative team is deft at setting up believable characters and all the bittersweet, ordinary, and quirky things that make this family who they are. In Wytches #2, patterns, colors, details and fears are carefully layered for maximum terror.

The Rooks family has moved to a new town after their teenage daughter Sailor was traumatized by an incident in the woods with another girl. Writer Scott Snyder and artist Jock show us Sailor’s memory of another girl being attacked and violently absorbed by a tree, but no one in Sailor’s life believes her version of events. The new town they have moved to seems riddled with reminders of what Sailor saw in the woods. It’s clear that something or someone is not done with this family.

This is a dark story, but colorist Matt Hollingsworth concentrates bright colors here and there — a green shirt, a yellow chair, the slash of Sailor’s bright red hair across her face — with a contrasting darkness around the edges. Hollingsworth flecks more colors all across Jock’s inks, which adds to the sensation that the panels are floating up from the page with something very bad behind them. Sailor always seems to be looking out of windows and through trees at something. She moves from window to window, or sits in the school bus passing rows of trees. The silhouettes of the windows and trees sliding past each other are like dark, old-fashioned cut-paper illustrations.

Inside Hollingsworth’s pools of color and light, Snyder and Jock use faces, body language and dialogue to establish the ordinary hopes and fears of this little family. Everything menacing outside of the family is that much more terrifying because we can see how Charlie aches for his daughter’s well-being, and how much he hoped that the move to the new town would help things. We see how vulnerable Sailor’s mother Lucy looks in her wheelchair, and we watch Charlie lose it with frustration as he tries to install her stair-climbing chair in the new house. We see Sailor’s tentative smile at a friendship overture from a girl at her new school. This family has already been through the ringer, but Snyder and Jock show us how much more they have to lose, and how little they know of what’s out there in the dark.

It’s not all empathy-building, atmospherics and ominous hints in Wytches #2. Having created a backdrop of paternal love and simmering anxiety, Snyder and Jock unleash some straight-up ghastly creatures. This issue builds steadily to a triple cliffhanger, and I don’t think Sailor’s parents are going to be acting like she is imagining things for too much longer. I recommend Wytches for anyone who likes to be creeped out, but even non-horror people will appreciate this portrayal of a very loving, very stressed-out father.

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