It’s hard to believe, especially for someone who wrote a review of Wytches #1, but it has been more than three years since the original horror series from acclaimed comics creators Scott Snyder and Jock ended its first story and went on hiatus. When the six issues that comprised the introduction of Wytches first hit stands, they made a big impact around Halloween as a great new horror series. Readers clamored for more and rumors continue to circulate about an eventual adaptation of the property to film or television. However, following the story’s conclusion in March 2016, most of the buzz surrounding the series has primarily been just that, rumors. It’s only now that Wytches seems prepared to make a genuine comeback and fulfill all of the expansive promise set up in its debut.
The first signs of a return came in the Image Comics magazine Image+ with short chapters of a new story being published across multiple issues. Finally on Halloween Day this year, those chapters were collected alongside their previously unreleased conclusion in an oversized one-shot: Wytches: The Bad Egg. That complete story made it clear that while a fair amount of time might have passed, Wytches and its creators had not missed a beat. In addition to reminding fans that this series was sticking around, it also provided some insight into the considerable worldbuilding behind the very focused stories told so far.
With interest climbing once again and “The Bad Egg” showing new readers why this series was so hyped, stories have begun to circulate once again that Wytches may return for even more devilish tales very soon. No matter how scary this series might be, that still sounds like good news. There’s a lot to love about Wytches, and there has never been a better time for this comic to make a comeback.
The Rarity of Truly Terrifying Comics
There’s a strong tradition of the horror genre within American comics, and it’s one of the most mourned losses following the creation of the Comics Code Authority and closure of EC Comics. Just because good horror comics tend to be great, that’s no reason to assume that there’s a natural fit between the horror genre and the comics medium. It’s difficult to deliver scares when readers can easily look ahead or spot what’s coming in every panel on the page. Unlike in movies where jumps and musical cues can amp up tension instantly, comics have to carefully build tone and construct ideas that can’t be spoiled. So when a horror series is genuinely scary, that is one to be cherished.
Wytches is just such an example. It doesn’t rely on big twists, although both stories can contain a few. Instead, its delivery of terror is based on familiar themes and powerful imagery. While the emergence of a wytch from the forest or a glimpse of their elongated fingers can provide an added thrill to an issue, these jumps aren’t what make the series stick in your brain. It’s the way in which families and neighbors betray one another, and the escalation from mundane slights to terrible acts of violence that make these scares feel real. When the monsters do appear, Jock’s construction of single moments make their absence every bit as impactful as their presence. A human eye looking out from the knot of a tree or a hand jutting from the earth creates a powerful claustrophobic moment, whether or not readers jump ahead. Wytches knows how to tell a horror story in comics, and that ability should never be underestimated.
An Abundance of Lore
One of the great elements in the initial six issues of Wytches was its approach to worldbuilding. While the story emphasized a small family unit moving to a new town, it quickly became clear that Snyder and Jock understood everything about that town and the terrible mysteries that permeated its history. Readers were only exposed to a small sliver of how the titular wytches functioned in New England, but it was clear they had a global history that could be detailed for centuries, if not millenia, into the past. “The Bad Egg” has only clarified that this is a series with a well-considered world and lots of ideas left to explore, as it has introduced human beings to antagonize these creatures along with a stronger sense of their traditions across the years.
Both the original story and “The Bad Egg” have provided glimpses of a much grander mural, allowing readers to poke small holes in a curtain that obscures a massive painting. Each new narrative offers a little more light and perspective on the big, terrifying ideas that make these individual stories possible. It’s only natural that readers would want to keep poking holes and seeing more of what is on the other side. What is really thrilling about what has been shown so far is that each new detail makes the big picture every bit as chilling as the little deaths and betrayals of every installment.
A Potential Headlining Creator-Owned Title0comments
Whether you’re looking at how Wytches delivers its scares, the individual characters that populate each small story, or the expansive mythos that reveals these wytches to be a force across the planet, the reason all of this functions is the dream team behind the series. Snyder and Jock have been headliners since before the debut of Wytches, and colorist Matt Hollingsworth is one of the most sought-after creators in his field today as well. The least surprising element of Wytches is that these three have created a powerful and popular series. It’s only slightly less surprising that they have difficulty scheduling work together in the midst of so much other work.
While that provides a realistic issue of logistics, it’s clear that Wytches has both the talent and the premise needed to become a leading series amongst the creator-owned set of comics being published today. With Saga on hiatus and other series like East of West and The Wicked + The Divine reaching their conclusion, Image Comics needs another all-star hit, and that’s exactly what Wytches can be. If “The Bad Egg” is a sign of the series return and more regular installments, it could not have come at a better time either for readers of horror comics or the industry at large. There’s a lot of story left to be told in Wytches and we would be lucky to see it sooner rather than later.