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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5 Review

4 min read

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Issue 5 CoverWhat else burns? More witches!

Creative Staff:
Story: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art and Colors: Robert Hack
Letters: Jack Morelli

What They Say:
Sabrina has to face the Witches Council for an accusation of conspiring with a mortal against the Church of Night. It will take a series of unnatural tests to prove her innocence, but none of it will bring her beloved Harvey back. She’ll have to take matters into her own hands to find Harvey’s missing soul. Recruiting two other young witches (from a neighboring coven), Sabrina holds a séance, but as ever, Madame Satan is pulling the strings behind the scenes, and what Sabrina taps into is much more dangerous—and diabolical. And will send our beloved teen witch on an epic quest. For TEEN+ readers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In the previous issue, Madam Satan tricked poor, innocent Harvey to travel to the Greendale woods on the night of Sabrina’s baptism into the Church of Satan. He interrupts the ceremony and the coven chases him through the woods, killing and eating him. Now Sabrina stands accused by the Witches Council of conspiring with a mortal.

The Church of the Night holds strict laws against the cross-breeding of a witch and a mortal. The only known exception that was sanctioned by the Council was Sabrina’s father, Edward. Now, his daughter stands accused of the same crime, and must endure archaic, torturous trials to prove her innocence.

She should have failed, but she enlisted the help of Madam Satan (who works under the disguise of Ms. Porter, the drama teacher) and Betty and Veronica—who are witches belonging to the Riverdale coven in this series. Betty and Veronica take the brunt of the trials, leaving Sabrina unscathed, and the Council absolves her of all charges.

And now the real work can begin. That night, Sabrina snuck out of her room and went to the woods with Madam Satan, Betty, and Veronica. There they perform a resurrection ritual to revive Harvey.

It takes three nights for the dead to return, and on the third Sabrina sat on her front porch and waited for her love to return. Only he never appears. Instead, his reanimated corpse goes back to his home, where he has a nasty surprise for his parents. See, the thing that crawled out of the ground, that wears Harvey’s skin like a suit, isn’t Harvey—it’s Edward Spellman.

All seems to be going according to Madam Satan’s plan, but her endgame is still a mystery to me. She’s manipulated events with the facility of a concert pianist, and if Sabrina doesn’t catch on fast, she, her aunts, and maybe even Greendale will be doomed.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa writes both Sabrina and Afterlife with Archie and it’s very interesting to see how he approaches each title. Afterlife is obviously an apocalyptic story with large cosmic threats played against very human and relatable fears and desires. Sabrina, on the other hand, is smaller in scope. It presents us with two worlds: the world of mortals and the world of witches, and interactions between the two are minimized and strictly regulated. The horror here is much less cosmic and much more personal. Both comics are extremely good at creating genuinely frightening and emotional moments, but they hit different pressure points. Afterlife with Archie is all about survival and discovering who you are when the world tests you. Sabrina is about reconciling your identity when you belong to two worlds, but have no place in either.

The art style also differs in this comic. Robert Hack has a wonderful rough style. His character designs harken to “classic” Archie, while incorporating a 70s aesthetic. And I swear the man uses colored pencils for his colors. There’s a texture to his work that doesn’t match brush strokes or digital color, and that helps root this story in the 1970s.

It’s important that this story is set in the 1970s, because both Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack draw upon a great deal of images and ideas from the numerous devil movies of that time. Plus, the story just seems to fit that timeframe better than it would a more contemporary one. I can’t really place my finger on why that is—maybe I’ve just watched too many devil movies from that time. Whatever the reason, it’s a smart story choice that further helps differentiate this comic from other horror titles on the rack.

The point I’m laboriously trying to make here is that Sabrina stands on its own, and that Aguirre-Sacasa is a damn good writer. This comic disturbing and compelling in its own unique way, and really has something special to offer.

In Summary:
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina continues to impress. This is good, creepy tale rooted in excellent character work and atmosphere. Both the art and the writing match the story, and I eagerly await the next issue. Dr. J gives this an….

Grade: A+

Age Rating: T+
Released By: Archie Comics
Release Date: May 18th, 2016
MSRP: $3.99