"Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #4" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Archie Horror
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Illustrated by Robert Hack
2015, 36 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on July 29th, 2015
Sabrina Spellman had the perfect life...if you can forget for a moment that her dad is dead and her mother is insane. She's staying with her loving aunts, she has a smarmy feline familiar, and a great boyfriend named Harvey. Everything was fine until Sabrina's sixteenth birthday when she was ready to pledge herself in service to Lord Satan...you know, like all teenage girls do. The problem is that Harvey caught a glimpse of this ancient ritual and that's not going to sit well with the rest of the coven, let alone his relationship with young Sabrina.
This issue gets into the aftermath of what Harvey witnessed as he runs for his life. Sabrina does what she can to protect him, but she's not nearly as powerful as the other witches around her. It's actually pretty terrifying, as this guy just found out that Satan is real and his girlfriend worships him. He's barely had time to process this revelation before being forced to flee. The book hits an abrupt snag with the second through fifth pages that tell a story from Harvey's past about finding porn in the woods. This feels out of place and really takes you out of the main arc. While the events in this flashback come back for a bit of closure at the end of the issue, it still feels like the story loses momentum right off the bat.
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The witches hunting Harvey are horrifying to behold. At first they may appear like normal women. Then they get closer to their prey and their true colors begin to shine through, revealing claw-like fingers, hallowed faces, and decaying bodies. Artist Robert Hack did a great job here, making these beings so damn menacing.
These creatures are a direct opposite of Sabrina. She appears so sweet and innocent, despite the fact that her face and chest is covered in blood. There are some panels that really pull through that naiveté in her face as she slowly comprehends the seriousness of this situation and that Harvey may not be coming back.
The one oddity regarding the artwork is the blood. It looks like it was drawn on after the fact, almost like it's on the page itself instead of on the pencils. It's as if you could smudge it while reading the comic. For the most part, this works fine, but there are several places where this doesn't line up correctly. This just makes it look like a kid scribbled on your book. If you have the chance, be sure to check out Hack's variant cover for this issue, which is a nice homage to Carrie. The blood looks spectacular there.
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It's within this issue that Madam Satan's (no relation to the Lord) insanely long revenge plan against the Spellman family really starts moving. It's pretty crazy the lengths that she's gone because Sabrina's dad broke up with her over a decade ago. She really has all the power right now, as no one in the area is aware of her true intentions. I'm curious as to how this will all play out once she makes her big move. We also see the return of the two young witches that were responsible for bringing the Madam back to this world, Betty and Veronica, not to mention a few others from Riverdale.
Although there are some imperfections, Sabrina's life was pretty great for a teenage witch. Everything seemed like it was falling in place for her. Now she's powerless, as it's all crumbling around her. There's some real terror here as she suddenly doesn't trust her surroundings or even her family. There's a particularly great sequence where she legitimately questions whether or not her aunts are capable of eating a human being. That gives you an idea of how far she's gone.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has some starts and stops throughout this issue, but the scares pack a helluva punch. It's tough to imagine going through even a fraction of the stuff that Sabrina and Harvey are dealing with here as teenagers. They're forced to grow up very quickly, learning the truth about the world around them and how it's far from a bright and shiny experience. It's dark and frightening and no amount of praying or daydreaming can change that.
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