As much as some creators can produce fun and exciting stories working on characters at DC and Marvel, there are limits. It is unlikely that even the most popular creators could tell a story that involved the death of a major character without having some way to reverse it, for example. A creator owned series, like many such works that come out of Image Comics, would allow these same creators to flex creative muscles in stories that grant them more creative freedom.
Writer Scott Snyder takes full advantage of that in the Image series Wytches. The longtime Batman writer brings out an interesting and spooky variation on the concept, while showing the true horror may be less the monsters but those who abide by them. Minor SPOILERS follow.
The story opens in the turn of the 20th century. A woman missing her nose is trapped inside a hollow tree. She’s desperately trying to get out. She sees her young son just outside and asks him to get a rock and free her. Instead, her son hits her in the face with the rock and tells her that “pledged is pledged”. Then a pair of hands appear around her face and drag her away. That’s the first three pages.
Cut to the present where Charlie Rooks, bestselling author of children’s books, is seeing his nervous daughter Sailor off to school. Over the course of time, we learn the Rooks, which includes wheelchair bound mother Lucy, have moved into a new house on the edge of the woods in a small New England town. Sailor, 13, is suspected of murder after the disappearance of another girl who used to bully her. There’s way more to it than that.
The wytches themselves are something of a mystery. Though a lot of mythology about them comes to light over the course of the volume, reprinting the first and so far only six issues of the series, the wytches themselves don’t really speak. Jock’s artwork doesn’t provide many clear looks at them, and that’s more than fine. Existing as some sort of tall, emaciated, human-shaped things, the wytches are dangerous, but maybe not as dangerous as the very human conspiracy that is not only aware of their existence but is willing to work with them for reasons of their own.
As mentioned, though Snyder mentions a second story arc beginning with issue 7, that was over a year ago. No new issues have even been scheduled as near as I can make out. While it would be good for Snyder and Jock to finish what they started, the first volume does actually largely work as a stand-alone series. Yes, there are a few unsettled details involving what happens next, but at the same time, this volume by itself works on its own. I’m giving it nine wytch pledges out of ten.