Are you looking forward to a new comic book but it’s impossible for you to wait for its release before you know what we thought about it? That’s why there’s DoomRocket’s Advanced Reviews — now we assess books you can’t even buy yet. This week: ‘Wytches Bad Egg Halloween Special’, out October 31 from Image Comics.
THIS REVIEW OF ‘WYTCHES BAD EGG HALLOWEEN SPECIAL’ SPOILER-FREE.
by Brendan Hodgdon. While I am perhaps the last person who will complain about Scott Snyder’s central role in the DC Universe, it’s hard to deny that I miss his creator-owned output. Books like American Vampire and The Wake are some of my all-time favorites. Snyder’s particular brand of dread-inducing monster tale is something that I’ll never not want.
Imagine my gothic glee at the announcement of Wytches: Bad Egg, the oversized return of Snyder’s other original series with longtime collaborator and artist extraordinaire Jock, just in time for Halloween.
This special, which collects the serialized story first published in the pages of Image+ and provides its final chapter for the first time, follows wytch hunter Clara and her son Sebastian in a tale directly preceding the first arc of the upcoming series. It’s an interesting shift in perspective, not least because it replaces the mystery and uncertainty surrounding the mythology in the previous tale with an almost-clinical dissection of the wytches, how they function, and how the hunters combat them. Yet this more-detailed exploration of the world does nothing to rob it of its fear-inducing powers.
A big part of this is Snyder’s innate ability to summon and embody primal terror in his work. In the case of Wytches he explored the fear and anxiety of having children, trying to protect them from the world and from your own sins, and the likelihood that you will fail. Bad Egg flips the perspective on this by telling the story from Sebastian’s point of view. Here, a lot of the tension comes from Sebastian’s uncertainty of what his mother is getting him into, and the unnatural sacrifice that his friend Jackson’s parents are willing to make.
In doing this, Snyder cuts deep into the uglier side of parenting, considering not only how one might fail their child but how many treat their children as chattel in one way or another. The thought of viewing your child as a tool or as a belonging is (hopefully) foreign and inhumane to most of us, and even more so to a child who, despite his uncommon upbringing, still seeks the support of a parent. When you filter this through the horrific particulars of the world of Wytches, it makes for a story that is creepy and unsettling on multiple levels.
The other big part of Wytches’ success is Jock’s tremendous artistic instincts, which are on display to creepy effect once again in Bad Egg. Jock continues to be one of Snyder’s finest collaborators, and his style is perfectly suited for the story at hand. The faded splashes of watercolor that stain the pages amp up the unnatural vibe that lives at the core of the story, sometimes highlighting the surreal landscape of the woods and other times obscuring the monstrous things that live there. It is a messy, stylistic flourish that plays like gangbusters.
What Jock is particularly good at in this story is the way he depicts fear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen terror so effectively captured in a comic book before, the fright Jock puts on the faces of these characters selling danger and dread. The key is the way he draws the eyes; you get an instant, uncanny sense of sympathy for these characters in their wide-eyed gazes, and a nice little pit is opened in your stomach where Snyder can then drop his existential angst directly into your soul.
There aren’t a lot of surprises to be found in Wytches: Bad Egg. We already know a lot about this world and its monsters from the first arc of the series, and it’s explored in even more detail here. We can generally predict where this will go, since it’s a prequel to the first story. Hell, it’s not even surprising anymore that Snyder and Jock work this well together. But what makes Bad Egg such a successful horror story is precisely that it doesn’t rely on surprises to scare you. Instead, it is built completely on the fright and dread that you already know but still can’t escape. This book is a true Halloween treat, one that will have you clamoring for the next batch of scares as soon as it’s finished.
Written by Scott Snyder.
Art by Jock.
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth.
Letters by Clem Robins.
8.5 out of 10
‘Wytches Bad Egg Halloween Special’ hits stores October 31.