Although Scott Snyder is probably best known right now as the writer of Batman, I’ve always thought it’s his horror stories that really show off his incredible talent. You could argue that he’s been writing Batman as a horror, but it’s stuff like his American Vampire that feels like his absolute best work. When playing with his own toys he really holds nothing back. When I heard Snyder was teaming with Jock, an artist who is likewise brilliant when it comes to horror, it was pretty difficult not to get excited. The two previously put out one of the most memorable Batman stories in years with Black Mirror, so having them work together on an original creation sounded irresistible. Wytches is the result of their collaboration and the first issue dropped this week. You may be unsurprised to learn it’s basically as good as you would hope.
Wytches #1 begins with a teasing sequence set back in 1919. After skipping to modern day the bulk of the story follows a teenage protagonist, Sail Rooks, on her first day at a new school. The issue gently trickles out details of why she’s at a new school and what triggered her anxiety, which she discusses with her caring father. Straight away seeing her goof around with her dad, in her funky fashion, you care about this girl. There’s a human quality to her and her vulnerable state makes her feel even more relatable. You can just tell something is likely going to go wrong but you really don’t want it to. Or perhaps deep down you do, this is a horror comic of course!
Wytches feels remarkably more sinister than Snyder’s other ongoing horror, American Vampire. There’s a surprising dark realism to Wytches that I wasn’t expecting. For instance, there’s a particularly disturbing sequence that has nothing to do with the supernatural but shows off the team’s talent in depicting real human evil. When the issue shows the more freaky and fantastic side of horror then it’s equally as disturbing and captivating. This looks to be the beginning of a very grim series.
As a first issue this is absolutely an introduction, but that’s not to say it’s any less for it. Jock’s artwork is sinister and perfect at building up the mood and the story still gives you plenty to chew on. We may not leave the issue with many details but it’s a very enjoyable read regardless.
The issue closes out with an entertaining and thoughtful essay from Snyder who shows his writing is as involving in prose as it is in pictures. He talks about the inspiration behind the book and how it’s rooted in real life experiences. In describing them he builds a sense of isolation and dread about his time out in the woods, it’s chilling and something I’m sure we’ll see emulated in future issues. I won’t spoil any actual details of what he says, but it’s well worth reading and almost as memorable as the issue itself.
Altogether this is a captivating issue that brings you in with mystery, tense storytelling, twisted art and a great protagonist. If anyone was worried that they might drop the ball you can relax. Two superstars came together for a new story and they struck gold again.
Wytches is spectacular. The writing and the art are phenomenal and deliver a story that’s disturbing, creepy and just incredibly entertaining to read. You’ll never walk through the woods alone again. Go check it out.