Will Rosenthal ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Archie Comics has been making some risky creative decision as of late–most notably the series Afterlife with Archie, a zombie apocalypse set in the town of Riverdale. Following that trend, Archie Comics released the new series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack, which aims to add the similar dark twinge to their typically wholesome and colorful characters.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 starts off in 1952, where the reader meets Sabrina’s parents. Her father, Edward Spellman, is the high priest of the Church of the Night, a Satanist witch cult. Her mother Diana is a mortal woman. Edward is met by the covenant of witches, which includes his sisters Hilda and Zelda, who have come for his daughter. Diana has already fled with baby Sabrina but doesn’t get far before the entire covenant finds her.
Diana begs Edward not to take her daughter, but after a couple spells not only does he get his daughter back, but he also drives Diana into insanity. With Diana in an asylum, Edward and his sisters take the child as their own and plan to raise her for their dark lord.
The remainder of the issue is spent following Sabrina through her childhood to high school. She deals with her father’s disappearance, childhood bullies, and entering public school all while her intense powers manifest.
Where the book shines is in the underlying terror that lingers throughout. The reader follows Sabrina taking on typical normal childhood problems with the magical flare of her previous incarnations. This is what’s unique about her–how she uses magic in the mundane. But after the story’s introduction, that magic isn’t as fun and harmless as it was in the TV show.
When Sabrina is first seen using magic, her eyes are black and bleeding like a scene out of The Exorcist.
Readers are given clues that Satan is an actual presence in the fictional universe and has a force on Earth beyond the witches. Hilda even mentions that her soul has been whittled away. Being a teenage witch is no longer as wonderful a prospect as it seemed to be. The dark forces in this series definitely seem to have lasting consequences. What those are exactly, especially for Sabrina, who was born with these powers, has yet to be determined.
The art brings the sense of dread right home. The color palette is mostly orange and black, appropriate for the issue’s October release. But the use of warm colors streaking across the paper, clashing against stark ink lines, gives the art a wonderfully eerie pulp style that harkens to the story’s time period. Not only does it give the book personality, but it adds to the grim framing of the story.
Emertainment Monthly gives Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 a 4 out of 5 for its unique interpretation of the character, but also for being a truly exciting start to what can only be a great series.