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Wytches Vol. 1 Review!

"Pledged is pledged."

Have you ever increased your rating of a book after reading the back-matter collected in the trade you read? More on that in a bit, but first I want to set the scene, and provide some context for this review.

Scott Snyder is easily my favourite writer, I would say. I'd already been reading comics monthly for a bit when the Justice League run he wrote started, but that comic was the first one I really looked forward to like nothing else up to that point (and only a select list of books since), every time it came out. It feels like everything he's written that I've read I've found so compelling, exciting, and just generally entertaining and a joy to read. Especially when he's often paired with such phenomenal artists, as is the case here.

My first exposure to Snyder and Jock as a pairing was The Batman Who Laughs mini-series early into the aforementioned Justice League run. I completely understand why people were burnt out with that character at the time, but I absolutely adored that series. From the writing to the art it was dark, tense, atmospheric, intriguing and just generally like nothing I had seen before at the time, let alone in superhero comics.

That all brings us to Wytches, here. Not Snyder and Jock's first collaboration, but their first Image title together at least, as far as I know. I set the scene with those first two paragraphs because my relationship, love, and fascination with Snyder's work is something that I thought is most rawly and intimately represented here. I made a similar thesis statement in my review of God Country in regards to Cates/Shaw, and I thought it would be an interesting throughline here.

So, how did the back matter of this trade get me to increase my original rating of this book? Well, to answer that I'll ask another question. Do you want to know another reason why Snyder is my favourite writer? If you read his newsletter, you might know that he often talks about his books and his thoughts behind them, as you might expect. I'm just constantly enamoured and again fascinated by how he talks about them, and what he says. Every book he writes has some deeper meaning that will get you thinking so much deeper about it. At least that's the case with me anyway.

I recognise this isn't something exclusive to Snyder. I mean, almost every writer has a deeper meaning behind their work they want to convey right? But not every book is going to have that. What I'm about to say isn't meant to be pretentious, but especially with superhero comics, and that's okay! It's okay for them to just be thrilling blockbuster fun sometimes. But to hear Snyder talk about the Metal events he worked on with Capullo, comics I've seen sometimes dismissed as "too ridiculous" (which, I mean they are at some points, so they won't be for everyone, but I digress), and say "well it's about this this and this" I just adore those books even more.

So how does this get back to Wytches? Well I remember when I first read this book, and I thought it was great. The art is phenomenal, no question from me about it. However while I enjoyed the story, absolutely, I wasn't quite as in love with it. Then I read the back-matter, collecting everything Snyder had, originally in the back of every issue, written about the series. It just felt like a big, sudden revelation washed over me. It was mainly the stories he told about what inspired the series. It re-contextualised what I had just read, and made it even scarier.

Because I could tell the themes and fears of the story were coming from a real place. At the end of the day that feels like what the best stories are, to me. I bring this up so often, but it's when those fantastical elements and ideas combine with the raw, visceral and uniquely human experiences we all deal with that make something truly special. That's how you get a book to stay with me, to linger and keep me thinking about it long after I've read it. I could have spent this review talking about how I enjoyed the characters, the development and backstory of them we see, and how the story unfolds. How I thought the pacing in the book was good, dramatic and fast-paced but not forgetting to make us care for the characters (always something I love and appreciate when it's done well). I'll talk about the art in a moment but you hopefully get the idea. When I'm reviewing something, I always try to get across why a book does (or does not) mean so much to me, along with a good balance of technical comments about aspects of the book which made me feel that way. Sometimes it's more slanted one way or the other, but I digress.

Everything I've mentioned above is conveyed in the artwork like nothing I've ever seen before reading this, or since. I've spent so much of this review gushing about Snyder, so before I wrap up I need to try and convey just how phenomenal the art is here. It's as equally fascinating as the writing, because even compared to Jock's other work it's such a unique reading experience. With the coloring by Hollingsworth, both him and Jock legends on their own, it fits the story so perfectly. It's murky, rough, yet so vibrant and fluid. Like the bright colors themselves have been obscured with dirt and anything else. Also in the back-matter they talk about the different layers that went into creating the art and again it's a fascinating process to observe. It's all so rich and full of life, yet so dark, disturbing and so, so unsettling. This all comes together with the lettering by Clem Robins, a font that like the art fits so well.

It is very creepy, so if you're not into horror comics you might not like this either, but if you want a book that I think is so well-crafted, I highly recommend giving this a read if you haven't already!


If you want more of Joe's comic thoughts and reviews, you can find him on Twitter @JoeLovesComics and on the League of Comic Geeks also @JoeLovesComics.

You can also find his podcast on Twitter @JoeTalksComics, which you can listen to through Anchor, where you can find links to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or you can click those hyperlinks directly.

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