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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Archie Comics, 2014; #1-5)

A confession: before the last couple of years, I had no real interest in the Archie gang. It is strange to me, then, to realize that I think of the New Riverdale and Archie Horror titles as some of the most consistent comics being published. And if there were any single reason why that’s the case, it has to be the publisher’s willingness to play with and reinvent its properties.

As with his Afterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has its roots in the recognizable. Sabrina is a teenage witch. Her mortal mother and warlock father are out of the picture. She lives with her aunts, who train her in the ways of magic. Salem watches over her. She and Harvey Kinkle are an item. But the devil is in the details; specific choices in world-building and storytelling make this book darker and far more tense than other Sabrina stories.

Much of the suspense that drives Sabrina comes from the fact that the teenage witch is unaware of the forces that conspire against her. She doesn’t know the truth behind her parents’ absence. She does not know about her father’s past betrayals. She has no clue that Madame Satan is after her to seek revenge for the sins of her father. The audience gets to see all this unfold—paced carefully by Aguirre-Sacasa—so when Sabrina or one of her aunts sees an ill omen, we already know something is in the works.

The Archie Horror titles place a premium on visual style. In this case, Robert Hack provides art that looks aged—not dated, but weathered. His lines are sketchy and loose, making occasional, minor exaggerations to shape and form. This fluidity lets him play with expression and perception, but it also allows terrifying, magical elements to seem like an organic part of the book’s world.

If you enjoy Afterlife with Archie or are looking for a spooky book, then this is worth checking out. It does a good job of blending familiar elements of Sabrina with tense, thriller elements. Even if you only know the character from the TV show, you’ll still recognize Sabrina’s history in Chilling Adventures.

Collected in

  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vol. 1: The Crucible (#1-5)


Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa | Artist: Robert Hack | Letterer: Jack Morelli

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