This issue feels very much like a middle chapter, as it’s mostly action-oriented. Still, even if it doesn’t feel like the central mystery moves forward very much, there are still some great character beats. It’s also nice to see Sabrina have a solo adventure and think (and occasionally run) her way out of a jam.
The artwork from Andy and Veronica Fish has been a treat in previous issues, but it crosses over into being genuinely stunning in this one. The romantic bike ride in particular plays with silhouettes and moonlight in a really lovely way. Even if you’re not commanding the elements and being trained by witches, everything seems like such a massive deal when you’re a teenager. These beautifully-illustrated moments really sell that monumental feeling of falling in love. As Sabrina herself intimates at one point in this issue, these are the sequences that truly feel magical, even more than any fight with a dragon in the woods could feel.
That’s not to say that the tussle that opens the issue isn’t thrilling, however. Sabrina starts off afraid, then confident, and then harried again as she rushes further and further into the dark, trying to get away. It’s a great sequence that gives us a better idea of how this version of Sabrina deals with conflict. Like most teenagers, she tries to put up a front of confidence, eventually getting annoyed with herself when she can’t exactly pull off the spells she wants. She even finds time to gripe about P.E. What I’m saying is that she’s incredibly relatable.
At one point, Sabrina thinks to herself, “My life needs to pick a genre already.” Honestly, though, when the genres are being juggled as well as they are here, it’s not a problem at all. Well, okay, it’s probably hella stressful for Sabrina herself, but for the reader, it’s a delight. Thompson’s script pivots so smoothly between spookshow to Scooby-Doo-esque chase scene, to genuinely sweet friendship-building moments and then right back into the fantastical.
Seeing Sabrina’s aunts take a more active role in the story is intriguing, even if they’re trying to shut her out. Rather than being a sounding board for Sabrina’s frustrations or giving her a new “spell of the week,” which they normally end up being relegated to (and which often makes the characters feel redundant alongside the similarly-functioning Salem), the issue brings their wisdom and connections to the larger supernatural world to the forefront.
It looks like this mystery just gets more complicated, even as Sabrina’s fresh start is Greendale is starting to heat up! We’re rooting for you, girl.