“Wytches” #5 continues the trend of this series; namely, creating a dark, dirty, claustrophobic story that — long after you read it — lurks in the corner of your eye, daring you to look at it directly one more time. Scott Snyder, Jock and Matt Hollingsworth prepare to wrap up the first story arc of the series here with a chapter that preys on numerous recognizable fears even as it sets up what’s still to come.
The issue opens right where last month’s cliffhanger left off, with that horrific moment where Charlie Rook’s wife Lucy no longer remembers their daughter. It’s a terrifying thought; not only can the Wytches erase your memories of someone that important and close to you, but that you, yourself, could be wiped out of the heads of everyone you know once you’ve been targeted. Charlie’s panic and anger blisters off of the page and, if there was ever a time for a protagonist to grow frantic, this is it.
“I wanted you to have another kid who wasn’t like me.” That’s the point where Snyder begins to twist the psychological knife. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching statements a parent could hear from a child, with so much pain and self-loathing and regret all tied up into just eleven words. That’s in no small part what makes “Wytches” work so well, because Snyder brings a psychological horror element into the book. The relationship between Charlie and Sailor and the tearing a parent away from their child are moments that will resonate with a lot of readers. “Wytches” has never been a light and fluffy series, but this moves into some truly dark territory.
For those looking for more visual horror, there’s that too. Sailor’s imprisonment, the disturbing entry point and Charlie’s descent into the Wytches’ realm all come to life in awful scenes that you can’t look away from. Jock draws the massive tree with ginger growing on it in a way that’s awe-inspiring and disgusting at the same time, with its huge branches and unnatural growths. Jock’s rough line gives it an added punch, too; the scraggly, never-quite-straight line work adds a level of uncertainty to every moment in the book. These visuals work all the better thanks to the unusual coloring method that Hollingsworth brings; not only are there dank, dark colors on every page, but the splatter overlays may actually make your skin crawl. There’s something that feels very wrong about the overall book; watching Charlie rub the jar of stink all over himself before entering the lair, with the splatters of both the substance and the overall coloring, makes the page actually feel dirty to the touch.
“Wytches” #5 is another strong issue, and one that sets up next month’s conclusion to this first story arc with a sense of dread hanging over the proceedings. Snyder and Jock’s “Detective Comics” run was creepy and unnerving, but this is a whole new level of horror. Enter the realm of “Wytches” — if you dare.