Sabrina Spellman has moved to a new town, which means she has a new school to attend, new friends to make, and new spooky mysteries to solve!
In Sabrina‘s first issue, writer Kelly Thompson brings the same knack for dialogue and characterization that made her Jem and the Holograms and Hawkeye series such a joy to read. Even when the characters themselves are nervous or scared, they can find ways of relating to the world around them through just the right amount of kindness and sass. Thompson always writes books that take place in a world I want to live in, so I’m very pleased to see the town of Greendale get the same treatment.
This new series doesn’t seem to be embracing the full-on horror elements of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but it doesn’t completely discount them, either. This first issue exists in a happy/spooky medium between the gothic dread and teen comedy aspects of the main character’s history, making it kind of a perfect synthesis of the franchise’s best parts.
The artwork by Veronica and Andy Fish is a delight. The layout of the issue’s panels are interesting and varied, especially when it comes to the portrayal magic. At one point, we see a close-up of a spell Sabrina casts on a bully, which is shown in a little pink “magic” bubble in the corner of a larger panel. There are several little touches like this that keep the book visually interesting, even in the scenes where nothing supernatural is occurring, which I applaud.
In addition to the magical elements being beautifully realized, all of the characters have distinct looks and fashion sense, not to mention wonderfully expressive faces. You get a feel for everyone’s personalities right out of the gate, regardless of the amount of dialogue they’re given. The supporting cast is already an interesting bunch, even when you remove the talking cat from the equation. If anything, this is already the most personality Harvey has ever been shown to have in any version of Sabrina (and he’s only on, like, three pages)!
Speaking of personalities, I certainly hope there’s more to mean girl Radka’s personality than the one-dimensional bully we get in this first issue. (I’m sure there is; I’m getting major “Pizzazz from the Misfits” vibes from Radka, in the best possible ways.)
While it doesn’t give readers much in the way of backstory, this issue’s confident pacing and tone still serve as an excellent introduction to the world of Sabrina. Sure, there are a few lines of exposition about Sabrina’s upbringing and Salem’s status as a former warlock. However, much in the same way Buffy the Vampire Slayer handled its pilot episode, most of this first issue is just about dropping Sabrina into the relatable circumstances of a crappy first day at a new school.
Sabrina doesn’t know who to trust, where to go, or how to act, just like any of us being thrust into an unknown new status quo. It’s one of the most overwhelming aspects of being a teenager, and even though Sabrina handles it like a boss (at least outwardly), we can still completely relate to her uncertainty.
This was a fantastic first issue. Even as a longtime fan of the characters, this is the most fun I’ve had reading an Archie-related comic book since the man series was relaunched by Waid and Staples back in 2015. Even if you’re only familiar with Sabrina and company from the Netflix series or the Melissa Joan Hart-starring sitcom, this issue is still worth a look.
If you love the character, introspective teen comedies, lighthearted fantasy, or a little dash of horror, pick this one up. Sabrina the Teenage Witch has something for everyone (even mortals).