For the longest time since the debut of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1, I’ve always made it a point to say that that version was my favorite. When I thought of witches, I thought dark, sinister, traditional. Despite that book denying us of a lot of story progress, it was still the full package if you indulged in that corner of the magic world. However, that didn’t mean I ignored the place in my heart for the brighter side of Sabrina’s story. This is that book which helps to give us the best of both worlds in Archie Comics.
Most fans of teenage witch Sabrina would off the bat appreciate that there is a lot more familiar to this story. It’s the small things that mattered such as the inclusion of Salem in a major role, their dynamic, not to mention Sabrina actually dealing with problems for someone her age. Zelda and Hilda had the same intensity and spring in their step as well. When it came to Chilling Adventures, there was a heavier focus on Sabrina’s love life and the things crucial about her time as a witch. There wasn’t enough time to genuinely explore the struggle between balancing the double life of high school and her burgeoning powers. Not in the way that normally would make Sabrina also relatable for her age. Having this contrast gives everyone a fresh experience which at the same time offers feelings of nostalgia. Who can argue with that?
Now for the first issue, there was also the question of how welcoming this would be for the point in Sabrina’s life which this creative team chose to begin her story with. When I say welcoming, I do mean the ease of access to this book. As in are you left feeling as though you missed something? Or if there was just something about the introduction to this story that just didn’t sit right with you? I found that their approach was solid given there was nothing to rehash about this story. We jumped straight into that period where it was all about the teen experience which could lead to anything. Especially when it came to what happens within the walls of the school. There was a lot to appreciate from the way Sabrina engages with Harvey who is still not a sports player, other students who test her patience, and friends who
As for Sabrina herself, I enjoyed this version of her that didn’t need a push to appreciate her life as a witch. Magic and everything is still not without a cost or risk, but there was no denying the sense of wonder carried throughout. To balance this out, there was a strong focus on what Sabrina has to offer as just a regular girl too. When they said that Sabrina would run into a couple of misfits that could turn into BFFs, I actually feared that they would use the two from the show. Not that they would be bad choices, though this is a book where you expect a new experience. This creative team delivered when this first friend was not at all what you would have pictured. Her new friend shook things up where there was a bit more effort put into showing just how proactive Sabrina can get when protecting those around her.
One of the selling points for this book just so happened to be the idea that Sabrina would be off trying to save the high school from crazy supernatural events. I had to know what form this would take, and our first taste of action in this series did not disappoint. It wasn’t the kind of trouble that Sabrina causes, nor was it a problem with another witch. It was good to know that this creative team would be tapping into that supernatural well to pull threats that you don’t expect.
While I was already sold on the story and approach for Sabrina The Teenage Witch, the big thing for me was seeing what the interiors for this book would actually look like. A dealbreaker for a book like this will always be what the art team can produce. With that said, this art team satisfied in supernatural wonders and nightmares. Not to mention capturing a lot of these characters in a grounded setting. The character sin particular stood out to me because of the youthful energy put into them. There was engagement in the way that these characters carried themselves, expressed themselves, and the diversity in what they each represented. Aside from the bright colors in general, I enjoyed the effect they used for casting. The lettering was distinct, and so was the purple-ish overlays. It made a difference to make these moments stand out considering magic for Sabrina is only supposed to be used in moderation (and secrecy)
Does Sabrina The Teenage Witch #1 meet the hype? Indeed it does! This story satisfies your every witch need as we await the new season of Chilling Adventures, and miss the days when the Chilling Adventures books were still being produced. If you want a story where there is fun in indulging in magic, an organic school experience, feelings of nostalgia from the older stories, and terrors that truly challenge this young witch? Then this is the book for you.