07th Apr2020

‘Sabrina The Teenage Witch: Something Wicked #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Kelly Thompson | Art by Veronica & Andy Fish | Published by Archie Comics

sabrina-wicked-1-cover

Word of mouth is still very much a thing in the entertainment world. Films, TV, books, and comics all benefit I would imagine as much from strong word of mouth as from advertising. Sabrina is a case in point. Being honest, this is not normally a book that would be on my immediate radar. I’m aware of the character, and of the recent Netflix show (yes, on my watchlist, no, haven’t got round to it yet) but little else beyond that. What I am aware of is that last year’s Sabrina mini-series, also by Kelly Thompson and Veronica Fish, was a bit of a sleeper book, that then grew into a cult hit, that finally morphed into a full blown success. That doesn’t happen by accident and, Archie Comics being a clever bunch, a second limited series – subtitled Something Wicked – has been greenlit and put out now. So let’s see what all the fuss is about.

So, I’m coming into this blind, not having read last year’s series, but there is a handy ‘previously’ recap on page one that gets you mostly up to speed. Essentially, Sabrina Spellman was the new kid in school, at Greendale High, which apparently has a whole lot of magic based madness going on beneath the surface. Mean girls are secretly wendigos, nerds are secretly demon dragons, and so on. You get the picture. There was a little teen romance love triangle thrown in as well, with jock Harvey competing with bad boy (but not really) Ren for Sabrina’s affections. It all sounds a little John Hughes fused with Buffy, which is all right by me. Bet this issue starts off all light and fluffy.

By Page 2 we have our first death, so ignore my previous comment. Some poor cat feeding lady seemingly has her life sucked out of her, leaving her just a husk. We’ll get back to that, but first we shift over to Sabrina doing some spell casting practice. As Sabrina points out, magic itself is neither good nor bad, it just reflects the character, or essence, of the person wielding it. Sabrina is delving into just what makes classmate Radka become a wendigo, now that Radka knows her teenage witch secret. No joy yet. The next few pages remind us this is as much teen high school soap as magic based character, and it flows nicely, Kelly Thompson clearly at ease with all this. Sabrina having to lie to Harvey as to where she was last night (echoes of early Peter Parker right there), while dodging the romantic advances of Ren.

Although Sabrina is obviously not a superhero, Kelly Thompson is cleverly using the same writing techniques here. Sabrina is struggling to balance her secret life as a witch, with her normal life as a student. Sound familiar? She has to do a lot of disappearing at a moment’s notice, or promising meet ups that she then fails to honour. Her friends then think she is unreliable at best, angry with them at worst. Comic books positively revel in the ‘woe is me’ lead character after all. As this issue is essentially a catch up for readers of the first series, and a scene setter for newbies like me, Sabrina also drops in on a witches hangout and finally meets up with her two aunts. Our introduction tour of places and characters seems complete. All that’s left to do now is some form of cliffhanger, and Thompson doesn’t disappoint. Maybe Sabrina can’t keep school and home life separate after all.

This was a fun read. Kelly Thompson wrote an interesting issue that felt a little like a prologue, or a 0 issue, with world building and the set up, though little else. To be fair, though, that was more than enough. This seems a very promising start, filled with interesting characters and a great lead. The art too is perfect for the book, nicely whimsical at times, and with clean lines and all ages style throughout. Lovely stuff.

If you like a John Hughes/Buffy mash up, this book is most definitely for you.

**** 4/5

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