Friday, 31 July 2015

Wytches #5 - Image Comics

WYTCHES No. 5, March 2015
Whilst creator Scott Snyder’s narrative for this penultimate instalment of “Wytches” is something of a far cry from any work by “The Master of Suspense” himself, it still contains some wonderfully ‘Alfred Hitchcock-like’ psychological moments as the title’s main protagonist becomes increasing paranoid and literally descends into a terrifying all-consuming madness. Indeed in many ways Charlie Rooks’ utter dismay at his wife’s denial that they ever had a daughter and realisation that the majority of the community within which he now lives is somehow part of a coven-based conspiracy creates some genuinely scary moments.

Equally as disturbing is the American author's ability to transform his narrative’s local, patient and ever-so friendly policeman, Mister Petal, into a totally deranged sadistic ‘selfish creature’, who upon discovering that Sailor’s father knows of his involvement in her abduction, becomes a seriously chilling guide as to where “these things in the ground” live. Arrogant and aloof, despite having had his jaw badly busted by Rooks, the sneering cop continues to disconcertingly inform his captor that the lone parent has “nowhere to escape to” until Charlie matter-of-factly shoots the bound, though apparently immortal lawman in the gut.

What follows next however is infinitely more unnerving, and in places genuinely makes the hairs upon the nape of the neck prickle. For having covered himself with a jar’s worth of “Stink” and loaded his pistol with “rat bullets”, due to them having “extra kick”, the determined ‘hero’ climbs down into the flesh-eating cannibals’ abode and starts to explore its dark twisting underground passageways in order to 'get his little girl back.'

Sadly such a tense, atmospheric and enthralling horror story is consistently ruined by the New Yorker frequently interrupting Rooks’ nervy traversal of the Wytches’ warren, with some rather tediously lack-lustre flashbacks to when Charlie’s wife, Lucy, was first recovering from her automobile accident. These scenes between father and daughter, brightly lit and dialogue-heavy, horribly jar with the dank gloomy fast-paced action of the writer's main storyline, and seem to serve no other purpose than to (once again) demonstrate just how poor a relationship Charlie once had with Sailor.     

Mark “Jock” Simpson’s artwork for these hospital-based sequences is just as disappointing as their interruptions are welcome, especially as the Scottish sketcher’s depictions of the quarrelling duo appear rather robotic and roughly drawn. Fortunately however, the East Kilbride-born penciller’s illustrations of Rooks grimly stalking the tunnels of the ghoul-faced “chit chit” anthropophagi are worryingly wonderful and there’s a real sense of menace about the bulbous-eyed skull-like creatures whenever they appear; “That’s right… they’re smelling you aren’t they? Yes, they are.”
Story: Scott Snyder, Art: Jock, and Colors: Matt Hollingsworth

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