“Terror is born anew in this dark reimagining of Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s origin. On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, the young sorceress finds herself at a crossroads, having to choose between an unearthly destiny and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey. But a foe from her family’s past has arrived in Greendale, Madame Satan, and she has her own deadly agenda. Archie Comic’s latest horror sensation starts here! Compiles the first five issues of the ongoing comic book series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. For TEEN+ readers.” – Archie Comics
In the last few years, darkness has fallen on Archie comics. The wholesome, freckle-clad teens we’re all used to from the supermarket check out line have been getting upgrades for years that have left the characters way sexier and in some cases, way spookier. The Sabrina Spellman you meet in this adaption is leading a life you would barely recognize if you’re a fan of the comedy series from the 90s or even the comics from the 1960s! I’m a huge fan of the ridiculousness and kitsch of the 90s series so I was thrilled when they announced that a new Sabrina series was being made! Now that I’m fully addicted to the other new Archie Comics offering RIVERDALE, I was so ready for a dark and spooky take on Sabrina and I was so not disappointed.
The comics feature many of the characters you’ll remember like Aunts Hilda and Zelda, and Salem Saberhagen – the man-turned-cat for eternity. Sabrina is still half mortal, with a mortal mother and famously magical father, and is learning witchcraft from her aunts who’ve taken her in in lovely Greendale, right across Sweetwater river from Riverdale. We even get to see young Betty and Veronica in their cheerleading uniforms! Aw! How sweet! Except you also have BUCKETS of blood everywhere, you see Satan himself conjured in the demonic flesh, blood sacrifices, resurrection, and more Rosemary Baby references than you can shake a stick at! it was legitimately scary and even a little gory. This is real horror. You’ve been warned!
The artwork is absolutely incredible. As a nod to the original Sabrina comics, these take place during the 1960s. The clothes, hair, and cat eye glasses are all perfect for the time period. The artwork even fits with other types of comics that were coming out around the time. Lots of clearly hand-drawn lines, backgrounds that look like smudged charcoal and watercolour paint – the works. The colours are somehow both muted AND bright with lots of tones in yellow, brown, black, orange and of course, bright red. I also liked Salem, a totally black cat in the tv show, going back to his original Tuxedo Cat look! (spoilers! I know!)
Even though this is obviously a fictional tale, it does feature some nods to real witchcraft history and even practice. There is a connection to the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692; much of the witchcraft practiced is done outside and the witches often remark that they ARE the woods and the woods are their church; and in issue 1 Sabrina’s cousin teaches her how to make a Honey Jar to get a certain adorable boy to like her. (overall charm is still going to have to go to TV-Harvey, though.)
For those unfamiliar with comics, this Volume contains the first 5 issues in the on-going story of Sabrina. You learn Sabrina’s parentage and why her aunts are raising her, more about how these witches practice and what they believe, you meet Harvey and get a peek into his life, and you get to know the antagonist – Madame Satan – who is gorgeous and terrifying OF COURSE. I imagine the new show will no doubt focus on the story laid out in these 5 issues the most.
I really enjoyed this. I’m not always a horror fan, but kind of vintage horror is definitely my style and lately, I’ve found the stories of Satanic witches to be kind of cool. Real witches have been trying to distance themselves from Satan and Satanism for a long time, and I think it speaks to how much has changed that more and more media is portraying this without offending people. There’s no conflating Wicca (a real religion) with Satan or Satanism, and the hero of the story and the characters you’re going to love are scary, fictional, satan worshipping blood-sacrificing witches. It’s fun and it’s scary and it’s so obviously fictional, but pulls from real history and myth and legend about witches and satanism and I think that’s cool.
I loved it, and I’m really excited for the new show – if only because it’s something different.
Plus, Salem still talks and that’s literally all I care about. He’s still sassy, though maybe not as silly as his 90s counterpart and I respect that.