Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Pledged is pledged."
"... Yes, it is."
Brrrr... this is one of the creepiest, nay horrifying, comics I have read in some considerable time.
The Rook family - Dad, Mom and daughter Sailor - have moved to the sleepy town of Litchfield to begin again after a life-shattering event. What they find hiding beneath the friendly veneer of this sleepy backwater is beyond even their worst nightmares. For lurking in the woods around the town are dark forces that have a taste for human flesh... preferably young human flesh. And they are old, very old. But perhaps even worse is the fact that these Wytches couldn't operate unseen without the assistance of their mortal acolytes...
The unease that builds throughout this volume before exploding in spectacularly violent fashion had me squirming in my seat. There was a grindhouse film classic from 1975 starring Peter Fonda and Loretta Swift called Race With The Devil (check out the official trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqv6PIH_ymY) that I was vividly reminded of after reading this. Basically in the film the four main protagonists who are travelling around relatively rural America in a camper van stumble across a midnight black mass and then are relentlessly pursued by the coven.
There is growing paranoia then full-blown hysteria as our heroes gradually realise to their ever-increasing horror that the coven is far larger and more influential than they could possibly have feared, and they are being watched at absolutely every turn, before the pursuit truly begins. There is no escape, no happy end either. The film concludes with them being burned alive in their camper van, surrounded by chanting, cowled figures. It certainly made a powerful impact on me, watching as a child of far too tender years, shocked that the heroes hadn't once again triumphed despite overwhelming odds...
I'm not entirely convinced there is going to be a happy ending for the Rooks either. Some of them, possibly. All of them...? I very much doubt it, as the forces of darkness begin their inexorable circling in towards their intended prey. Their pledged prey... Of course, it does take someone to pledge you to them...
So if you are in the mood for some grisly chills, look no further, albeit through half-closed eyes from behind the settee. Brutally captivating art from Jock (who did one of the finest Batman covers ever in my humble opinion, during Scott Snyder and his' BLACK MIRROR arc - The Joker's face nearly entirely composed of bats - see it at http://comicsalliance.com/jock-batman-black-mirror-joker-screen-print-limited-edition-art/), he really nails the practicably unbearable tension in some of the pursuit sequences.
The Wytches, when we finally see them are so horrifically gruesome, contorted perversions of a barely human shape, practically faceless aside from chittering, exposed teeth, you can really understand the stark terror experienced by the Rooks. I'm reluctant to give too much more away in terms of the plot, specifically because there are a number of shock reveals and twists that serve to increase reader discomfort even further up to those full-on seat-squirming levels, but suffice to say this is already up right there with OUTCAST and RACHEL RISING for me in terms of horror rating!