With his involvement in massive flagship superhero titles like Justice League and Batman, it’s easy to overlook the fact that comic scribe Scott Snyder has done some of his best work in the horror genre. And it’s a crying shame, too, because pound for pound, titles like American Vampire and Severed contain some of Snyder’s best writing to date.
There's an element of communal terror in Snyder's horror stories, a tone which echoes the work of Stephen King (which is probably not coincidental, seeing as the two writers collaborated on the first five issue of American Vampire and the fact Stephen King is, well, Stephen King) without being derivative. It doesn’t matter if his stories take place in an Old West ghost town or a sleepy Ohio suburb during the Twenty-First Century, there is a reliability to his tales which is channeled through realistic characters and their base primal fears.
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Out of all of Snyder’s work in horror (including the darker themes in his run on Batman) the most effective in terms of turning something most folks find blasé into a new kind of monster is the 2014 series, Wytches. Illustrated by comic virtuoso and series co-creator Jock, Wytches tells the story of the Rook family shortly after their move to a small town in New Hampshire where things are not as they seem. And yes, we know how common that set up is. The hidden evil of a smiling community, the newcomers who may or may not play ball once that evil is revealed, and the nightmare scenario it creates are components to a story that has been done to death.
Wytches, however, turns the familiar up on its ear and makes the reader question the motives of every character on the page while also producing one of the most terrifying monsters in modern comics. Years after the first six-issue story of the series ended, we now have a new tale to tide fans over until Snyder and Jock return with a proper follow-up to the adventures of the surviving Rook family member(s). While it may not be the continuation we’ve been waiting for, Wytches: Bad Egg Halloween Special is still a fantastic read and will quell those hunger pangs.
Told from the point of view of an eleven year old boy named Sebastian “Seb” Clay, Bad Egg focuses on a group of people who are not as unsuspecting as the Sailor Rook and her kin. Seb is part of a family of roaming Wytch hunters. With our heroes well aware of the horrors beneath their feet, Bad Egg doesn’t bother standing on ceremony. There is no slow build up or shocking revelation (at least not in the same manner as the earlier story arc).
All the nomenclature and mythology are presented with a pedestrian attitude we should all be hip to by now. We are tossed into the world of Wytches without a lifejacket. It’s sink or swim this time around, and honestly, it’s rather refreshing. However, we would not suggest making Bad Egg an entry point to the world of Wytches if you’re not familiar with the series. While this one-shot operates as a self-contained story, it’s far too obtuse to be understood without some sort of background context. Plus, it would be blasphemous to miss out on all the twists of those original six issues.
Snyder is doing what he does best again, crafting realistic characters who have natural motivations. Much like his horror guru Stephen King, he is able to find the terror in banality. Trivial experiences like being a guest at a family dinner or taking a shortcut on the way to school are quickly transformed into moments of sheer horror with ease. And while there are outlandish elements (we’re talking about subterranean child-eating monsters, here), everything ebbs and flows naturally and deliberately. Nothing ever seems to come out of left field when Snyder is working in the realm of horror.
The sketchy character designs and horrific creatures are once again rendered by Jock, who, as always, knocks it out of the park. The only issue is some of the coloring can make the image a bit muddled, the only negative from the original six issues that has carried over to Bad Egg. We understand the artistic intent of the splattered paint look as things become increasingly unsettling, but some panels look like someone used them as a coaster. However, as distracting as it can be, it’s a choice you have to respect, and at times it can be quite effective.
Snyder and Jock have been on the same artistic wave length ever since their run on Detective Comics (which was a horror show unto its own), and they keep that partnership thriving in the page of Wytches: Bad Egg Halloween Special. If you’re a horror hound or just looking for something spooky to pick up at your local comic shop this Halloween, then Bad Egg should be on the top of your pile. If you’re a fan of the series, there’s a good chance you’ve already committed this book to your pull. Which is a good thing. Because, after all, pledged is pledged.