I have been holding onto this idea for almost a year now, but it is finally time for me to gush about one of my favorite comics, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” By the time you read this, the live-action adaptation on Netflix will be a week away from airing on Oct. 26.
As part of Archie Comics’ “Archie Horror” line, “Chilling Adventures” is a darker take on a tried-and-true classic in the Archie Comics catalogue – that “classic,” of course, being “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” and the creative pair of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (writer of The CW’s “Riverdale”) and Robert Hack (artist, the “Doctor Who Classics” series) explicitly emphasize the “Witch” bit of the title.
The story of “Chilling Adventures” deals with Sabrina Spellman’s escapades in the 1960s, the same decade when “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” made her first appearance in “Archie’s Madhouse #22.” One look at Hack’s art, be it the character designs or the vintage décor, will make you feel like you are in the ’60s alongside the characters within the pages.
However, I know you are not here for me to describe the décor of Sabrina’s house or her clothes – these are her “Chilling Adventures,” after all.
Once the story picks up, which it does at a comfortable pace, your blood will, eventually, start to curdle – there are sacrificial pacts, necromantic acts, departed relatives returning to Earth from Hell, a demonic baptism with Satan appearing as a goat, mythical incantations in Latin, and so on. Nothing is spared from Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack’s immaculate detail on every page.
Beyond that, Sabrina’s aunts, Hilda and Zelda, are more menacing than you remember – this is not your mother’s, big sister’s, or older relative’s “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” for there is no Melissa Joan Hart here and Salem, Sabrina’s familiar, is ever-so scathing with his sarcasm, especially with his much larger role in “Chilling Adventures.”
Of course, romance plays a huge role in Sabrina’s story – it’s the bread and butter of every Archie Comic series – and, as such, something from which the reader cannot escape. Sabrina’s jock boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, plays a major role in many of the storylines, much as he did in the original series that inspired this darker take. Anything Sabrina deals with, he wants to stand alongside her in the process, which, in certain situations, gives the reader a chance to sympathize with him.
He’s the “normal guy” to Sabrina’s “supernatural force.”
The story also makes a point of bringing back popular characters from Archie Comics’ illustrious past. In the first issue, Aguirre-Sacasa and Hack introduce – or reintroduce, if you’re a serious Archie historian – the readers to Madam Satan, a character originally seen in Pep Comics #16 from June of 1941, under the “human” guise of Iola.
She quickly becomes a nuisance to Sabrina and the others, and, as such, creates one of the most exciting conflicts in the early series. However, mentioning anything else beyond this is grounds for spoiling the experience – and I believe this story is meant to be witnessed with your eyes. It’s that good.
Unfortunately, the only thing that mars the experience is that “Chilling Adventures” goes on extremely long hiatuses, thanks to Aguirre-Sacasa’s role in producing and writing “Riverdale,” which is a massively popular series as of late.
However, if this does not dissuade you from looking into it, you can buy the first volume consisting of the first six issues at your local comic book store or on Amazon. If you’re still in it for the long haul after issue #6, you do have to buy #7 and #8 separately, for they are not compiled in graphic novels yet.
No matter how you read it, you’re in for a fun time.