Fun fact, I used watch Sabrina: The Teenage Witch (you know, with Melissa Joan Hart) when I was a kid and I just loved it. This… has probably nothing to do with anything at all. In line with their Afterlife with Archie, Archie Comics has decided to do a creepy and spooky version of Sabrina! Will it be anything like their previous dark revamp? Is it good?
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 (Archie Comics)
I’m skipping the opening story summation and getting straight to the point here. This issue is basically a lot of backstory and setup. It crams a ton of information into it as it covers Sabrina’s life from her first birthday to high school, while meeting or introducing tons of the iconic and memorable cast from the comics and show. It feels a tad rushed and doesn’t exactly allow us to really be sucked into this world, since there are a lot of moments of talk instead of show. Plus, it doesn’t do that good of a job of endearing us to these characters either.
Since this whole comic is on fast forward, we don’t really get to see much development of the characters and there’s barely a story to speak of. We just get a snapshot of an important event in Sabrina’s life and then move onto the next one. There’s a lot of exposition and info dropping all over and characters’ personalities and interests are changed with almost every time skip. Because of that, you never get fully invested or grow to like anyone in the cast since they never feel interesting, memorable, or developed. Any moments that do feel interesting or like they could lead to something are glossed over or moved past. With all of those problems and the fact that nothing ever feels natural in the story or with the characters, the whole comic feels more a like chore to read if anything.
Next time, we teleport into a larger room. It’s too cramped in here!
But what about the writing here? How is that? It’s as good as it can be given what our story is like. The pacing and storytelling do feel rushed here like stated, as if the writer is just trying to get through all of the backstory in one go. The dialogue is alright, ranging from good to rather dull. Besides Sabrina, there’s not much in the way of characterization or good character development. You do get to know enough to figure out what these people are like… but never given any reason to actually care or see them develop. Strangely enough, the comic feels… tame when it comes to the horror and chilling aspect. Oh sure, the opening and ending are creepy enough, but the middle? It’s surprisingly kind of dull and uneventful. I literally had to remind myself that this was a horror or at least creepy comic during my time with this tale. How strange.
You know what isn’t lacking though? The artwork by Robert Hack. Even during the slow and not creepy moments, the art really gives the book a great and moody atmosphere with its use of colors and the scratchiness in the penciling. It does give the scary and creepy moments, when they actually happen, a very nice edge. The characters do look good, though their facial expressions tend to be on the weak side. The layouts are decent enough, with some creativity here and there. There is some striking imagery at points, mostly during the beginning and at the end. Ultimately, it makes me wish the writing was more up to par with this beautiful artwork.
Is It Good?
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 was a comic I was hoping to like a lot, but found my hopes being dashed. The writing is just not there with its bad pacing, rushed backstory, and underwhelming characters. Heck, it’s even a bit of a letdown in the horror department in some areas due to a very slow and dull middle. However, combined with the beautiful artwork and the fact that we got past the backstory now, there is still plenty of potential and room for improvement with the comic. Things can easily turn around in the next issue and I hope to see it there next time.