Sabrina the Teenage Witch #1 – Kelly Thompson, Writer; Veronica Fish, Andy Fish, Artists; Jack Morelli, Letterer
Ray – 8.5/10
Sabrina the Teenage Witch has always been one of the most iconic Archie properties, maybe second only to the core Riverdale quartet in fame and probably the most successful in terms of television adaptations. But while the young sorceress has had two wildly successful TV adaptations, she’s had far less success in the comic book world in recent years. Her all-ages comics (based on the original TV series and the animated spin-off) are long gone and the horror-themed Chilling Adventures of Sabrina went on hiatus and never came back. It’s essentially a dead series now, only existing as fodder for the Netflix adaptation.
Now, into the breach comes one of comics’ fastest rising stars. Kelly Thompson, the Marvel Exclusive talent who seems to be everywhere these days, is bringing her trademark wit and mystery that made Hawkeye, West Coast Avengers, Jessica Jones, and Nancy Drew hits to our favorite teenage witch and promising a lighter, more all-ages take.
This first issue is certainly lighter, but that doesn’t mean bloodless. Thompson has never shied away from the intensity in her books, and that’s clear from the opening page – which finds a bloodied Sabrina facing off against a vicious creature from Native lore.
But before we can find out what’s going on, the story flashes back to that morning, as Sabrina is awoken by Salem’s butt in her face. This segment of the issue is very much vintage Sabrina, as she bickers with her talking cat, prepares for her first day at a new school, and deals with her very different Aunts. Hilda and Zelda being restored to their quirky, bickering selves instead of devil-worshiping villains made me happy, and they provide a lot of the issue’s best comic moments. I also liked the little detail that Sabrina uses magic to dye her distinctive white hair.
When she arrives at school, the comic flags a little bit. There’s the Meet-Cute with Harvey, a quick rivalry with an over-the-top mean girl, and a friendship with a fellow misfit that eventually lands the three girls in detention on her first day. It’s all standard high school drama, and Kelly Thompson’s “Standard” is better than others’ but not as dynamic as some of her other books and the early parts of the issue.
It wastes no time grabbing back our attention, though, with the introduction of a mysterious second boy named Ren, with a supernatural vibe and ties to mean girl Varda. That leads to a suspenseful final page with a great twist that had me anxious for the first issue. I wouldn’t say this is an all-ages take – there were a few pages that made me think this takes place in the Hungerverse – but it’s a highly engaging one that instantly won me over. Welcome back to the comics, Sabrina. Hope you survive the experience (and get more issues).
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.