We don’t often consider single issues here at Comic POW! We prefer to look at story arcs and completed series to get a better feel for what the author and artist were trying to accomplish. However, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some comics’ first issues to predict where we think it might be going and see how that compares with where the series actually goes. This new series is called “At the Beginning” and it’ll usually be for series right as they are starting up.
It appears that Scott Snyder was not content to have one of the best works of fiction about vampires, he wanted to continue working the horror pantheon. He couldn’t have selected a better partner in this enterprise. I fell in love with the Snyder/Jock team when they were working together on Detective Comics Vol 1 on the Black Mirror arc. Jock can quite easily go from horribly disturbing artwork to regular artwork that nevertheless excels at facial expressions. This contrast can easily be seen when comparing the first few pages with the pages that follow it.
As for the story: Snyder gives us glimpses of story that hint at the greater mythology he will be exploring. The issue opens with a woman trapped in a tree begging for help. When her son arrives he finds out she was pledged and, therefore, refuses to help her. We fast-forward to the present day and meet a girl who’s starting matriculation at a new school. Through a flashback we find out that she’s starting at a new school because her bully disappeared under mysterious circumstances (into a tree like the mother in the opening of this issue) and although she was clearly not convicted of murder, she was guilty in the court of public opinion. The issue ends without us knowing what happened, we just hear her screams and see her father’s terrified face. So we’re left confused and in the dark at the end of this introductory issue.
Even with such a threadbare story Snyder reveals some of the themes he’s likely to be exploring within this first arc (and possibly throughout the run). First off, there’s the idea of being pledged. Although we don’t know the circumstances behind the mother who was pledged, we do know that there’s a sense of obligation behind the pledged. So if, perchance, our main character ends up not being in trouble, but able to exploit the potential powers of working with the Witches (Wytches?) she may have to deal with the consequences of pledging someone. Even if she picks someone who seems evil, it may turn out the person has reasons for acting that way or some other redeeming feature. The second main theme involves our main character’s guilt. Humans are pretty rotten at seeing cause and effect where none exists. It’s quite common for people who wish harm on others to feel guilty if something bad actually happens to that person. Yet, as far as we know, there is no connection. Then again, perhaps in Snyder’s world, she IS guilty and we’re wrong in feeling sorry for her guilt.
With more questions than answers, I can’t wait for the first arc to finish so that I can see where Snyder takes things.
Wytches by Scott Snyder with art by Jock, color by Matt Hollingsworth, and letters by Clem Robins.