Wednesday, November 12, 2014



STORY: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
ART: Robert Hack
LETTERS: Jack Morelli
40pp, Color, $3.99 U.S.

“The Crucible” Chapter One: “Something Wicked”

Rated Teen + (Violence and mature content)

I first became a fan of Archie Comics character, Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch, when I was a small child and saw the old Filmation animated series starring Sabrina, which aired under different titles.  I think Sabrina was the first fictional white woman with whom I fell in love, and probably started me on the road to loving fictional white chicks, especially, for a long time, blondes.  For a few years, I was a regular viewer of the ABC (and later, The WB) live-action series, “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (1996-2003), which starred Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina.

It was some years after first discovering Sabrina that I learned that she was an actual comic book character, although I have rarely ever read a Sabrina comic book.  Now, there is a new Sabrina comic book series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, drawn by Robert Hack, and lettered by Jack Morelli.  It is also a genuine horror comic book.  Say what!

Late in 2013, Archie Comics began publishing a sort of alternate version of its world of Archie Andrews, his friends, and the bucolic town of Riverdale.  Afterlife with Archie found Riverdale and the surrounding area caught in a zombie apocalypse, with many beloved Archie characters transformed into flesh-eating ghouls or becoming the victims of those flesh-eating ghouls.  Created by Aguirre-Sacasa and drawn by Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie was a hit.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is not about zombies.  It is a re-imagination of Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch, not as a cartoonish witch like the kind found in the old television series, “Bewitched.”  Sabrina is a witch with an occult, even satanic, origin.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 (“The Crucible” Chapter One: “Something Wicked”) opens in Westbridge, Massachusetts on October 31, 1951.   It is a year after the birth of Sabrina Spellman, a child born of a “mortal woman” (Diana) and a “diabolical father” (Edward Theodore Spellman).  Diana and Edward's union is a crime against “witch law,” but the marriage yields young Sabrina, a beautiful child with much potential.  The occasion of her first birthday, however, is a time of change and tragedy.

Nearly 13 years later, in September of 1964, Sabrina is a new high school student, living with her spinster aunts, Hilda and Zelda, in the town of Greendale.  Her only friends are her familiar, the talking cat Salem, and her cousin, the boy-warlock, Ambrose.  Sabrina is ready to be a normal high school girl, although she does not realize that even in “normal” Greendale, there is darkness.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina recalls the kind of hoary and gruesome horror and weird fiction that the late publisher, Warren, did so well in horror comics magazines like Eerie and Creepy.  This comic book has similarities to or at least a creepy vibe reminiscent of 1970s occult films like Carrie, The Omen, Race the Devil, and Rosemary's Baby, among others.  This comic book even reminds me of Rob Zombie's recent half-ridiculous/half-brilliant, Satanic art movie, The Lords of Salem.  I also keep waiting for Hammer Films-era Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to show up in this new Sabrina.

I like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina because I'm impressed that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has the gall to do this to Sabrina the Teenaged Witch and that Archie Comics has the balls to publish it.  However, it is taking me a while to warm to Robert Hack's drawing style, although his storytelling is good.  I am ready for more of this.

[This comic book reprints “Presenting Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch,” which was first published in Archie's Madhouse #22 (October 1962).  The story is written by George Gladir, pencilled by Dan DeCarlo, inked by Rudy Lapick, and lettered by Vincent DeCarlo.]

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 reprints the story in which Sabrina first appeared.  The best part of this story is the art by Sabrina's co-creator, cartoonist Dan DeCarlo, a consummate stylist and one of the best graphic designers ever to work in American comics.  His impeccable compositions, especially in his work of the 1950s and 60s, reflect the skills of a talented draftsman.

One thing that did surprise me was that this debut-version of Sabrina is impish and a bit salacious, not at all as I remember her in the cartoon TV series.  That original Sabrina could still be a comic book star today.

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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