After disappearing for many months, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina returned last month with a not so stellar issue.
Sure, the backstory for the new villain was good, but after being away for such a long time, it would have been way more preferable not to toss the main character and the story to the side. However, now that the book seems to be back on a regular release schedule (for the time being anyways), let’s take a look at the third issue. Is it good?
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #3 (Archie Comics)
The big day is coming up: Soon, it’ll be Sabrina’s 16th Birthday! It’s the day when she’ll take part in a blood ritual/baptism to become a true witch… by committing herself fully to the Devil! However, Madam Satan has her own plans to screw this up some how and some way.
This was a significant improvement over the last issue by a mile. The comic toned down the obsessive narration and actually let the artwork do more of the talking. The story moves far slower and has a more appropriate buildup to the main event in the issue, taking its time to lay out the important facts about what this ritual is and even throwing in some background information about the witches’ world. Most importantly though, the main focus was on Sabrina and there was actual forward movement with the story, especially with that cliffhanger in the end. All of these aspects made this a much better issue…
What’s wrong with your face? Your left eyeball seems to be shrinking.
…And yet, this issue felt lacking in some way. It’s not particularly thrilling or all that scary. In comparison to the last two issues, there’s no sense of dread or creepy imagery (the Dark Lord is surprisingly not all that horrifying due to him being crammed into small panels). There’s really no character development or growth going on here with anyone, even Harvey who you think would be more than just a stereotypical boyfriend who’s a bit horny. Sabrina comes the closest, but her hesitation and how nervous she felt about this whole ritual mostly went out of the door when she actually gets to the event (except for one point, which is just rushed through). The dialogue is okay, but nothing about it is particularly memorable though.
Surprisingly enough, the artwork by Robert Hack exacerbates the lacking feeling here. While a lot of the quality you’ve seen in the past two issues is here, there are a lot of smaller oddities popping up. There’s some poor scene or panel transition where the comic will abruptly jump from one bit to the next. The facial expressions feel very limited in areas, either making characters look far older than they are (Harvey is the worst of it) or giving rather derpy and silly looking expressions in some scenes. Plus, the artist somehow really doesn’t make anything particularly creepy or scary looking (except, unintentionally, the picture above). The Devil looks unremarkable and there’s not much of a mood in this story as in previous issues (the ritual has the same color scheme as the regular world, missing out on a great opportunity to make the scene feel more otherworldly and unusual than everything else). I’m not sure what happened between this issue and the last, but it feels like the art just isn’t firing on all cylinders like it was before.
Is It Good?
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #3 is a step up from the last issue, certainly. It fixed most of the story and writing related problems and put the focus back on Sabrina as it should have been. That being said, the issue felt lacking when it came the horror, character growth, and even in the artwork in some ways. It could be just me, but I feel like this comic could better than what it ended up being, especially with the improvements or progression made. Oh well, maybe next issue.