Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 8 (October 2017)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #8

There hasn’t been much Sabrina in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina lately. At least two issues, maybe three. This issue is all Sabrina. It was, like Chilling Adventures itself, worth the wait. Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack put Sabrina through a romance comic adventure, one with some good girl art, while never losing the twisted reality of it all. Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing is stellar, on plotting, on characters. He does this close third person narration, mostly between Sabrina and her dad (who’s possessing her reincarnated zombie boyfriend). It’s twisted and great. Then there’s a witch battle. Hack does it all. There’s even a Jughead cameo. Sabrina has held strong without its lead, but it’s so nice to have her back.

CREDITS

Witch-War, Chapter Two: The Psychopomps; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 7 (August 2017)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #7

This issue of Sabrina has almost no Sabrina. None as the lead. Instead, it’s got her dad, Edward, coming back to life in the body of Sabrina’s dead boyfriend, Harvey. It’s a frame for a flashback. You know, while Edward, in Harvey’s body, eats Harvey’s parents.

Because it’s a really gross comic. Aguirre-Sacasa knows Hack can sell the creepiness of the behavior while implication. There’s no need for gore. As horrifying as the visuals might get, Hack’s artwork is always lovely. Especially for the flashbacks, in which Edward appears to be a young Eddie Munster type. It’s downright fun for a while–Aguirre-Sacasa enjoys the less gory content fine, he just always punctuates with gore. And after it’s fun, it starts getting creepier and creepier.

It’s awesome. The creators aren’t trying to recreate the gothic, melodramatic horror comic, they’re just doing a good one.

CREDITS

Witch-War, Chapter One: The Truth about Demonology; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 6 (September 2016)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #6

Aguirre-Sacasa starts this issue of Sabrina with some rather showy exposition. The series always has good exposition with a fluid narrative distance, but this opening is something different. It’s Aguirre-Sacasa using some of the goodwill he’s built up; he’s asking the reader to get excited. It’s almost like he’s pep rallying what’s going to come.

And it’s deserved. It’s a great issue, covering the histories of Sabrina’s family’s familiars. Samuel the cat is the focus of the comic, but Aguirre-Sacasa wants the reader to have to wait. He and Hack deliver a fantastic origin for the asps in the house. Then it’s Samuel’s turn and Aguirre-Sacasa starts it off really slow. He’s dragging the reader along, holding them hostage–is this origin going to be worth it? Because Aguirre-Sacasa sets it up to be a big deal–Samuel doesn’t want to reveal his origin and then he makes the asps promise never to bring it up again. That behavior, even for a witch’s familiar in the form of a cat, is weird. Is the origin worth it?

Yes, but not for the plot twists. Sabrina looks like homage to seventies horror, but it’s not. Aguirre-Sacasa does something different with it, mixing the psychological scares and the visual ones in different combination. The “disturbing” visuals in the series aren’t scary (well, maybe somebody mutilated but I mean the really freaky witch designs Hack comes up with). This issue has lovable witches even. Aguirre-Sacasa deals with the witch trials and he goes far making them sympathetic. Samuel might not like them, but he’s kind of a jerk.

While Aguirre-Sacasa is busy showing the reader how to read the comic, Hack is making sure the reader keeps going at the right pace. The creators seem more enthusiastic about the comic than they want the readers to be. But it’s also expertly rendered. Like I said, it’s a great comic.

CREDITS

Familiars; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 5 (July 2016)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5

Has it been a year since the last Sabrina? I guess it has been. Thank goodness Aguirre-Sacasa opens with a text recap (though I didn’t read it closely enough, which caused me some minor confusion).

Sabrina is on trial for cavorting with mortal boy Harvey, who is now dead. She wants to bring him back, unknowingly enlisting her nemesis to aid in the effort. And then Aguirre-Sacasa has a big surprise for that part of the story too. Sabrina is full of surprises and none of them are good for its protagonist, which is sort of weird. It feels like a melodrama, more than anything else, it feels like Aguirre-Sacasa is doing this giant teenage period piece melodrama with witches. It’s awesome.

Excellent art from Hack, who gets to do a nice variety of things here. There’s the witches trial, there’s the high school, there’s some other stuff. It’s great looking. There’s a lot of humor in the art this issue too. Hack’s having fun.

Sabrina is an excellent book. It has to be to be worth this kind of wait.

CREDITS

The Crucible, Chapter Five: The Trial; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 4 (September 2015)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #4

Aguirre-Sacasa doesn’t mess around this issue. He keeps taking Sabrina down its dark path, spending the entire issue dealing with what happens when witches have to make a regular person disappear. Because if you’re a witch, sometimes you need to make hard choices and significant sacrifices to the Dark One.

While all this darkness is circling the regular cast, the kids from Riverdale show up–it’s not a full fledged Archie crossover but Aguirre-Sacasa does hint at future complications.

On one hand, the comic is just masterful horror. Hack’s art is simultaneously luscious and horrifying. The script–and the narrative design choices–are great. It’s terrifying while still being assuring. Aguirre-Sacasa finds the exact balance to keep it going just on the edge.

But he’s also doing a very aware reinvention of a (somewhat) familiar franchise and negotiating all those implications.

Sabrina is awesome. Just plain awesome.

CREDITS

The Crucible, Chapter Four: Harvey Horrors; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 3 (July 2015)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #3

A lot of this issue is fantastic. Almost all of it. Except the ending and not even the hard cliffhanger, but how Aguirre-Sacasa gets there. The issue is about Sabrina’s baptism (with the Devil, of course) on her sixteenth birthday. Throughout the issue, Aguirre-Sacasa has been doing flashbacks to her talking to her aunts about it five years earlier. For the ceremony, he cuts in between an expository flashback and the modern actions. It’s a very traditional film technique.

And has no place in this (or possibly any) comic book. Of all the techniques Aguirre-Sacasa borrows (he puts some dialogue in parentheses like Bendis), borrowing a movie (and TV) technique just feels wrong. It stops the story and breaks Sabrina as a protagonist. Aguirre-Sacasa is skipping her in her ceremony.

Otherwise, the issue’s wonderful stuff. Beautiful artwork from Hack as well.

Aguirre-Sacasa’s just too crafty.

CREDITS

The Crucible, Chapter Three; Unholy Baptism; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2 (June 2015)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2

The protagonist of the second issue of Sabrina–Aguirre-Sacasa doesn’t actually go with Sabrina, but her new (unknown to her) nemesis–is so disturbing, once the story does get back to Sabrina and company, as creepy as they are, they’re welcoming.

The issue’s protagonist is Madam Satan. Who has a proper name, but I can’t remember it (it comes up only once in a flashback). She used to date Sabrina’s father and he dumped her for a human (Sabrina’s mother). So Madam Satan let a bunch of lions eat her, which sent her to the part of Hell for suicides, but she’s back.

I can’t explain it all. Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack have a lovely way of filling in the exposition; the fluidity of Hack’s artwork as it flows between past and present, imagined and real, is phenomenal.

Who knew Sabrina the Teenage Witch could be so dang good?

CREDITS

The Crucible, Chapter Two; The Secret History of Madam Satan; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 1 (December 2014)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1

For Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes a very serious approach. It works well with artist Robert Hack, who does horror well, but also does creepiness and the period–Sabrina is set in the fifties and sixties–well too.

So while there's that classic horror look from Hack, Aguirre-Sacasa works in just enough humorous reference to the anticipated Sabrina comic–her cat familiar chastising her, Sabrina using her spells to meet boys, her cousin being obsessed with rock and roll–to give this new variation a personality.

The comic does open far more traditionally, with Sabrina's origin and her father and a scene out of Rosemary's Baby involving her mother, but the second half is where it really gels. Aguirre-Sacasa quickly establishes the Sabrina character as she enters high school, even if her aunts do take an unevenly reduced role.

The cliffhanger's iffy, but very effective visually.

The comic works out well.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Crucible, Chapter One; Something Wicked; writer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; artist, Robert Hack; letterer, Jack Morelli; editor, Jamie Lee Rotante; publisher, Archie Comics.

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