Daylight Horror Dawns As Wytches Returns With “Bad Egg”

by Hannah Means Shannon

One of my favorite horror comics is back–featured in installments in Image+ Magazine and taking up the position previously held by “Here’s Negan” of The Walking Dead, also rapaciously devoured by fans in the way Wytches is bound to be.

Written by Scott Snyder, with art by Jock, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, and letters by Clem Robins, this return of Wytches gets the band back together after a necessary hiatus while Jock worked on Star Wars. We can just about understand that choice! The installments running in the monthly magazine are 8 pages in length, just enough to drop you back into the frightening world of Wytches and give you something to sink your teeth into story-wise.

Snyder introduces the story with a reminder of the question the series poses: What if Wytches were “evolutionary off-shoots”, creatures who “prey on us”. His descriptions in prose are actually pretty terrifying in their directness, reminding us that they have both eyes on one side of their heard “all the better to peek around trees”. This preparatory prose raises those spooky questions and leaves us in the right mood to encounter a world where predation could be lurking around the next tree.

Wytches: Bad Seed does not start off slow, that’s for sure–the creators are clearly aware that this shorter episodic format needs to deliver in new ways to keep anticipation–and a fair amount of anxiety high. The first page is a masterful evocation of smallish town life and 11 year old Sebastian Clay’s school life, as well as his obsession with the phrase for nothing special, “standard issue”, and the ways in which that plays into his reality in mostly good ways.

You have about one page to feel fairly warm and fuzzy about this as a reader before the spiral into darker territory begins, not unlike a tunnel-based roller coaster before that first big drop. You know it’s coming but somehow you feel alarmingly calm just before the tense atmosphere becomes perceptible.

If you’re thinking about it objectively as you read (and you’re probably not since Snyder, Jock, and Hollingsworth drop you into the story effectively), you’ll realize that Sebastian inhabits the world of Wytches and that something decisive is likely to happen. When his mother warns him against taking “back lots” to school, you pick up a little twinge of possibility there.

What follows is an outright nightmare in broad daylight for 6-7 pages, nightmarish for a number of reasons and bound to hit different readers in different ways. You’ll succumb to the parents’ nightmare of having creepy circumstances close in around a child, an the universal human nightmare of recalling childhood and putting yourself in Sebastian’s tennis shoes. Then there’s the whole Wytches nightmare that you’re reminded lurks firmly in the hearts of humankind.

The Wytches are awful, terrible, creatures from our darkest fears. But that’s not actually the half of it. Most of what they do–most of what they are–focuses on human selfishness. In the world of Wytches, humans trade each other for elixers and potions that can cure illnesses and change their reality. They curse each other for their own benefit and sell each others children for desired outcomes.

We meet monsters in this first issue of Wytches–but there’s a nearly equal footing between these creatures and the humans that seek their aid. But what does it take to resist these Wytches and their human counterparts? That might be a rather monstrous proposition as well.

Welcome back to Wytches, dreched in blood spatter on a bright school day morning. It’s a definite pleasure to have the shit scared out of us again.

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