"Where the Witches Lurk #1" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Written by Joe Pezzula
Illustrated by Donny Gandakusuma
2012, 26 Pages
Certain sub-genres of horror have seen a renaissance lately. Vampires got a big boost from True Blood and – for better or worse – Twilight. Zombies are currently riding high thanks to The Walking Dead. Even Werewolves got a shot in the arm from MTV's Teen Wolf. Witches haven't gotten that kind of attention recently. Joe Pezzula is setting out to change that in his independent comic series, Where the Witches Lurk.
The first issue, originally released directly by Pezzula himself via his website and now available on ComiXology, begins with what looks like your stereotypical witch. She's old with white hair and warts on her face. She even has a cauldron that she's using to create a potion to keep her young with the bodies of nearby small animals. Then there's a knock on the door. Her ritual is interrupted by a man from the Census Bureau. This where things take a sharp turn as what follows is not what you'd expect. The story gets turned upside down and Pezzula gets his hooks into you with the story.
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I'm not spoiling anything by saying this (as it's mentioned in the description on Pezzula's site), but the witch's visitor is a tracker, out to hunt and kill her kind. His methods are unusual but effective. Little is revealed about his background or why he's doing this, but the setup makes me learn more immediately. How long has he been a witch tracker? Has his family been doing this for generations? How many witches has he killed?
Donny Gandakusuma's artwork brings a sense of normalcy to Where the Witches Lurk. The witch lives in what appears to be an average American neighborhood. She could live right across the street from you. She could have used your cat in her potion. She's not living in a cottage made of candy out in the woods somewhere. Her intentions are not blatantly obvious, which adds more mystery to the witch tracker. How did he find her?
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Gandakusuma also captures some of the raw emotions for each character. The witch has a feeling of desperation about her, trying to finish this potion to keep herself young-looking. The tracker is innocent at first, appearing naïve as the witch tries to lure him into a trap, then terrified as the snare begins to tighten.
Where the Witches Lurk definitely brings a new level of interest to what until recently was nothing more than an old Halloween costume. Seriously, outside of maybe The Craft, when was the last time you heard a decent witch story? The Wizard of Oz? Hansel & Gretel?
Where the Witches Lurk is currently available via Joe Pezzula's official site or ComiXology.