Archie Comics is probably one of the greatest modern success stories in the comic book industry. Though most people think “wholesome, all-ages fun reminiscent of a bygone era” when the word “Archie” is spoken, the company has achieved massive success by thinking outside the box with their properties, evidenced by the wildly popular Afterlife With Archie. Following the theme of placing their properties into the horror genre, Archie’s CCO Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa brings us another terrifying series: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, aided by the talented Robert Hack. I wasn’t sure what to expect from issue #1, but I was very excited to pick it up. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 begins in the 1950s where we meet the Spellman couple. Edward, the family patriarch, is an accomplish dark sorcerer and has pledged his infant daughter to a life of witchcraft. Her mother, Diana, wants to resist this eventuality, and tries to escape from the coven with Sabrina. Her attempt fails, and Sabrina is sent to live with her spinster aunts, Hilda and Zelda. Years pass, and the teenage witch matures, becoming a magical force to be reckoned with. After a turn of events, the family moves to Greendale, where Sabrina starts high school. What will occur as our heroine lives among mortals? And what vicious figure has emerged to prey on the Spellman family?
Sabrina the Teenage Witch is a character most people my age are familiar with thanks to the 90s sitcom, and holding those preconceptions will cause this comic to surprise you greatly. Aquirre-Sacasa dives into Sabrina’s lore, drawing her aunts, cousin, and, of course, Salem the Cat into this shadowy tale. The story is frightening, with lots of psychological horror alongside traditional tropes such as monstrous transformations. The character work in this issue is exceptional, with the voices of all the characters well established and their interactions insanely intriguing. My only issue with the writing is the multiple jumps in time period, but given that this issue is establishing characters’ backgrounds, this is understandable and is unlikely to occur in future issues.
One word that’s key to Sabrina’s success is subtlety. Hack, the mastermind behind this issue’s art, is a key driver of this metric. His artwork is full of many little pieces that work to form a creepy tapestry. This comic is beautifully drawn, and Hack does excellent work conveying the style of the 50s and 60s. The final page is especially frightening, and shows a villain design that will probably fill my nightmares for some time. A great horror comic cannot flourish without artwork to match (or even surpass) the story, and this comic succeeds amazingly in that regard.
I never thought I’d say this, but Archie Comics is publishing the single best horror comic out today. As someone who reads a decent amount of horror, I’ve read my share of stories that fail to scare me, or even get me the least bit nervous; The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 legitimately frightened me, and I’m already anxious for the next spine-tingling issue. Fans of the horror genre will love this series, and I also recommend it for anyone fond of amazing art and strong character work. The team hit a home run on this title, and I strongly encourage you to pick it up.
-beautiful, haunting artwork from Robert Hack
-legitimately creepy horror work in both writing and art
-exceptional character work
-lots of time transitions can feel somewhat jarring
Brett Simon is a twenty-four year old comic enthusiast. He sleeps with one eye open.
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