Forget everything you’ve heard about witches. Bury all the movies, books, series about Celtic mythology and the mysticism that has endured from ancient British society to the present day. In ‘Wytches’, a new comic published by Darkside, the reader is introduced to the real-life depictions of these millennial beings who, since the construction of the first cultural identity, have haunted thousands and thousands of people, being constant targets of exploration and adaptation through the seven artistic fields. . However, the narrative created by Scott Snyder goes beyond what we’ve already been told, preferring to dive headfirst into a darker and more dangerous world.
The story begins in the late 1910s, foregrounding dark imagery, dotted with splashes of red and gradually gaining clarity and visibility. We see a woman trapped in an indecipherable, claustrophobic place, groping blindly in the haunting darkness for a way out – and only then do we realize where she is: inside ‘a tree.
The fact that it can’t happen is scary enough. Seeking inspiration from several psychological thrillers – including the twists and turns of the gory ‘Saw’ franchise or even a parent of the supernatural genre, ‘The Witch’ – we are faced with a mystical situation involving someone whose resilience is not the best. . The unnamed woman tries to scream for help, and things get even more tense when an expressionless young boy appears. From there, the suspense begins to build and reaches a cathartic climax as she reveals, albeit subtly, that she knows the reason for her entrapment: apparently it’s all part of a ritual in which she is the main offering to appease the nameless forces of mortal and a priori unknown creatures. And then we find out that the boy actually put her in there – and worse: it’s his own mother.
“An oath is an oath,” he said bluntly, moments before claws shot out from behind them and dragged him into the darkness.
It’s a prologue worthy of the best horror franchises, both cinematic and literary. The dark atmosphere is constantly reaffirmed not only by the incredible and ambiguous dialogues, but also by the visual construction of the forest, which is scrutinized by modifying the trees dotted with red and black tones, replacing the classic brown and allowing the whole of the script to melt into a black hole that’s not at all inviting, but scary enough to make us wonder what lurks in the shadows. It’s exactly the same feeling the story’s protagonist, Sailor Rook, feels when she arrives with her family in the town of Litchfield, New Hampshire, after going through one of the most traumatic times of her life – which is explored in depth throughout the work. .
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She is not the only one to live with the ghosts of the recent past that come back to haunt her in moments of weakness. Living with their father Charlie, a writer in decline and totally unbalanced, and their mother Lucy, paraplegic after a serious car accident, they all want to start their lives over, find a supposed peace in the United States and put dramas aside. who feed her reputation – as we learned in the first act, Sailor suffered daily abuse from a bully named Annie, until she was captured by the same creatures in the prologue, dragged in an unknown world. The girl, from then on, began to doubt her own balance of personality, wondering about what she had seen and what had really happened that day, taking on herself the responsibility for such a disappearance. .
However, the peace they fought so hard for begins to be bombarded by inexplicable appearances of skeletal, superhuman creatures, who are apparently on the hunt for our “heroine”. One does not at first understand the reason for these threats, but through several parallel stories, one is led through a totally reformulated mythology through a path of betrayals, acts of desperation and sacrifice itself – obligatory or voluntary.
It is interesting to understand that the Rook family does not confine itself to the clichés of the genre when it comes to archetypal constructions. Truisms remain on the surface of the narrative, such as that the three are strangers in unfamiliar territory and nurtured by faith and mysticism – but behind this first layer are several symbolic layers that dialogue with the most primitive instincts. of the human being. From now on, the characterization of witches escapes the conventional “black hat and pointed nose” and admits the true meaning of these legendary characters. In fact, Snyder makes good use of his personal experiences to map out the plots of his work, claiming that in fact everything he knew about the trials of women and men in the Middle Ages for satanic practices was a lie.
In the author’s idealized microcosm, witches actually bear little resemblance to human beings. They don’t exactly have a wand to turn their enemies into harmless animals, but rather unholy powers to grant the most twisted desires of the human mind, in exchange for an offering – after all, they need to feed themselves. . The deformation of their faces or even their inability to live in society are metaphors in a parental perspective; Throughout the journey, Charlie tries to protect his daughter from what she doesn’t know and doesn’t know how to face – and that’s the main fear parents have of their children: not being able to face their fights. Round the clock .
It’s not just a narrative masterpiece, but also a synesthetic and aesthetic masterpiece – and it emerges thanks to the incredible work of designer Jock and colorist Matt Hollingsworth. The entire initial staff is worked in Indian ink and gradually filled in with layers and layers of complementary colors. The cold colors are constant and contrast with extradiegetic elements, such as traces of blood and stains that follow the characters in moments of great tension or discovery. In addition to the irreverent characterizations, the majesty comes from the rawness of the protagonists and supporting actors: Snyder doesn’t bother to romanticize or mask the true feelings of his creations, using jargon, slang and profanity to offer a more realistic view of events. in Litchfield. .
‘Wytches’ is a daring comic, in the most varied ramifications of meaning. Delivering a competent story with a beginning, middle, and end, through a narrative montage that seeks irreverence even in literary vanguards, the Root family saga had only just begun – a macabre and bloody tour de force.
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