Review - Wytches #1

"Pledge is pledged."

Proving witchcraft can be done in a variety of ways. If they can cast magic, they may be a witch. If they're dressed like a witch, they may be a witch. If you can build a bridge out of them (being made of wood and all), they may be a witch. If they tap into a deep connection with nature to get trees to come to life and pull people in? Really most likely a witch. Witch stories are always fascinating and Image Comics runs with that notion in Wytches #1. The issue is written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth and lettered by Clem Robins.

Across the globe, century after century, men and women were burned, drowned, hanged, tortured, imprisoned, persecuted and murdered for witchcraft. None of them were witches. They died protecting a terrible and hidden truth: witches, real witches, are out there. They are ancient, elusive, and deadly creatures that are rarely seen and even more rarely survived. Yet somehow, despite all the opposition, they persevere and tend to make their way into modern society, prompting some like Sail Rooks to question her own sanity.

Snyder is certainly no stranger to writing fantastic books and Wytches #1 is certainly no exception. There's a tautness to the script that feels exceptional and appropriate for the somewhat mysterious nature surrounding witchcraft. That tension comes through in the extremely deliberate pacing of the story, with Snyder giving the reader bread crumbs as to what the overarching presence of witches in society causes. Snyder imbues the book with plenty of eeriness through both a historic perspective and the eyes of Sail herself, as her confrontation with a bully ended inexplicably. Sail is positioned as almost an innocent bystander when it comes to potential witchcraft, as her parents clearly know a lot more than they let on to her when she's nervous.

For a book like Wytches #1, the art has to fit and boy, does Jock do a brilliant job. Characters are extremely well-defined and expressive, masterfully capturing the emotion pervasive at that point in the story. Jock adds subtle touches to the look that showcases a certain depravity in every scene; even those in Sail's school feel as if something bad could happen at any moment. The entire issue just feels angry for some reason, courtesy of Jock's ability to present pages with intensity. That intensity is emboldened by Hollingsworth's coloring, which feels scratchy in many parts of the book and fits with the narrative beautifully.

Wytches #1 is an amazing first issue that hits all the right notes. It's got an abundance of fantastic things going for it and is definitively starting a bold series that doesn't seem as if it will stay away from venturing into very dark places. Snyder's story is haunting, offering a character in Sail who will resonate with readers in that both will largely stumble upon the truth of her world together. Jock's work is worthy of being displayed outside of the comic, but within the context of the story it fits very well. Wytches #1 is a fantastic start to a chilling new series that taps into a cultural mythos surrounding witchcraft and spins a modern yarn out of it. Anyone who reads Wytches #1 will quickly admit that the book is phenomenal.

Wytches #1 is in stores now with interiors below.