One of the aspects of horror is that fear of being chased by a relentless and superior threat.
In Wytches #2, the chase is on. Scott Snyder gives us an issue filled with foreboding and history that further builds the foundation of the story and the legend of the Wytches right before unleashing the horrors on a family deserving much better.
Charlie Rooks, father to Sailor and husband to Lucy, is struggling to keep it together. Hoping to start a new life in a new town, Charlie still can’t escape the pressures of his publisher or the damage caused by Sailor’s traumatic witnessing of a murder. A visit from family friend Reg who witnesses one of Charlie’s outbursts gives way to Charlie opening up about Sailor’s most recent injury — “scratches and incisions” on her neck that have resulted in a strange lump.
At school, Sailor takes a swim class and deals not only with her public persona — everyone is curious about the murder — but the visions of her deceased bully, Annie, who keeps appearing and caused the injury to her neck. While swimming, Sailor sees the woods and the Wytches in the trees before the wound in her neck opens up, revealing an eye. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, Sailor steals a school bus to finally confront her tormentors in the woods.
The issue ends as each of the family members comes face to face with their darkest fears as the truth becomes clearer — Lucy remembers what really caused her accident, Sailor and Reg are ambushed by monsters, and Charlie is attacked in his home by someone who claims he never had a daughter.
Snyder’s story is brilliant in its execution, and the beats hit precisely as scene folds into scene for maximum impact. Everything is everything in Wytches #2, and the horror elements along with the themes that weave through the pages build, build, build tension all the way to the last page when the crescendo can almost be heard in your ears. All that’s missing from this issue is a soundtrack.
Jock’s art tells the visual story with a no-nonsense approach that keeps the main thing front and center. The abstract nature and scratchiness of the lines coupled with Matt Hollingsworth’s colors create memorable visuals that are both subtle and thick with emotion. Take, for example, the scene in which Lucy’s patient Dylan suddenly wakes. The artwork cuts back and forth between Lucy and Dylan’s eyes, and Jock applies subtle changes in distance and eyes size to highlight expression and movement. As Lucy’s eyes widen as she gets a clue about a suppressed memory, Dylan’s face comes closer to the panel, suggesting the truth is coming closer.
On the next page, Sailor swims towards the panel, closer and closer, as the visions become starker and more real. It also happens in the woods as Reg finds Sailor — the panels zoom into Reg as the sound of the Wytches catches them by surprise.
That sort of composing gives you a sense of space, and as things come closer, claustrophobia sets in. With each issue of Wytches bringing us deeper into the lore and closer to the answers, we come to terms with whether we really want to know what happened to the Rooks family.
Snyder does well in placing bits of information deliberately and conspicuously to keep our attentions focused. It’s like a bit of sleight of hand when a magician leads us with one hand while the other hand prepares a surprise, but it’s effective as a way to keep the plot threads spinning. Pairing that with Jock’s acumen in getting the story told visually creates a dynamic that’s bigger than any one piece by itself. In terms of the themes — the words and art have a synergy that produces a swell that works like a pulse that beats harder and faster. I didn’t expect to have the characters come this quickly into the thick of things, and the shock of it all — the quick escalation — will keep readers from getting comfortable. The title is called Wytches for a reason, and they’re here — and they’re terrifying.
Wytches #2 (2014)
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Words: Scott Snyder
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Clem Robins
Previous Issue: Wytches #1 Review