As with most teenage boys with a passing knowledge of comic books, Batman was my gateway to the rest of the medium. There are a lot of essays about how the depth of Batman is what makes him so compelling, but if we’re being honest, the main appeal of the character is that he looks cool, and that he managed to get away with dressing like an animal without being labelled as a furry.
That doesn’t mean any Batman story is a good story, however, so it’s a good thing that Scott Snyder’s Batman stories were some of the best. From Court of Owls to Zero Year to Superheavy, Scott Snyder has proven to be adept at a wide variety of genres – but one of his best works ever was his first Batman story, The Black Mirror. Not to be confused with the British Television show where a Prime Minister has sex with a pig (based on a true story, Mister David Cameron), Snyder’s Black Mirror story was a gritty, sinister mystery, with illustrations by Jock and Francesco Francavilla. Some of Snyder’s best stories are when he works with Jock in particular, and it’s that creative team that works on the horror story from Image Comics, Wytches.
The first volume of Wytches was a dark reinterpretation of the classic concept of witches enacting curses on the townspeople around them, turning them into horrifying, ancient monsters – though, like the historical stories of witches themselves, the true monsters tend to be the regular humans involved with them. It’s an excellent and compelling first volume with some wonderful letters from Scott Snyder, and a great behind-the-scenes look at how the comic is made by the artist and colorist.
If the first volume of Wytches was a graphic novel, I suppose that the Wytches: Bad Egg Halloween Special would be more of a graphic novella. It’s bound like a regular comic, but it’s certainly much bigger than any traditional one, with 13 chapters (12 of which having been previously published in issues of Image +), along with another letter from Scott Snyder, and some fun BTS sketches. It is a prequel/side-story to the original Wytches book, and setup for the second volume, which will be made after Snyder and Jock release their Batman Who Laughs miniseries.
Scott Snyder has always relied rather heavily from first-person narration, and it’s as present here as ever – and while his dialogue is sometimes a bit too verbose, it does a great job of connecting you with the two boys, who serve as the main characters of the story in a setting reminiscent of some Stephen King tales. Every page is absolutely dripping with atmosphere, and while Bad Egg isn’t Scott’s scariest work, the writer and artist manage to make the story tense from start to finish, not making it clear who might make it out of the story.
More than the scare factor of the creatures themselves, Wytches: Bad Egg is about family – and the disturbing reality that not all parents care for their children, which can often be much scarier than literal monsters. The story is about the loss of childhood innocence, and coming to see your parents as people, rather than figures. While it’s a horror story, it’s also a good one for younger teenagers and parents to read, as it serves as a message to them in particular.
What really seals it for me is the letter at the end of the story, actually. It might be a bit of a cheat, seeing as it isn’t part of the actual story, but it’s a heartfelt and upsetting confession by the author, and it paints a picture of exactly why Scott Snyder wrote Bad Egg. If you’re a fan of horror – and more than that, if you’re looking for a dark story about the pretty and ugly sides of family – there’s not much of a better place to go than Wytches.