By Arpad Okay. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a consistently surprising comic, and “Witch War” continues that unpredictability. Sabrina’s evil father has been reincarnated into the body of her dead boyfriend Harvey Kinkle, a bait and switch played on Sabrina by the elder Spellman’s equally deceased ex-lover, Madam Satan. Sounds like things are poised to pop off, and they are… just not in the way you’d expect.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing employs restraint, a measured pace of storytelling that allows things to get much worse before the trouble starts in earnest. And to match the sophisticated writing, Robert Hack’s artwork in this issue is some of his boldest to date. The color wash is still autumnal, a photograph of Halloween faded by years in the sun, but the red of Sabrina’s dress and the gold of Harvey’s locks stand out on the page, still fully saturated. Equally vivid are Hack’s inks, his once spindly contours now laid on broad and thick. The look is stronger, more confident, less like a retro tribute and more distinctly Robert. The writing shocks. The illustrations delight. Sabrina’s creators are both killing it.
Sabrina Spellman is in deep. Big rules have been broken, which results in a full-throttle magical standoff in the sky above a cemetery. The family shootout features magic much more severe than what usually occurs in this comic. The reader is used to the book raising the dead (which happens here, too, albeit in a way we haven’t seen before), eating the living, hexes and charms.
But this is witch war. Sabrina riding a broom in and out of danger. Sabrina zapping people with magic bolts. Monsters. Mind reading. But Sabrina’s in love, and she’ll do anything for the man she thinks is Harvey Kinkle. The gloves come off and there’ll be hell to pay.
This setup for tragedy has huge potential. Father Spellman’s return is catastrophic for the residents of Greendale, but the ante compared to even an issue ago has been raised immeasurably. Spellman stands back and lets his family tear themselves apart over politics, unaware of the war to come. He is a crafty foe, for sure, but has he got anything on Madam Satan? Everyone thinks that they’re the ones calling the shots, but this entire conundrum has been the result of her secret machinations. It’s impossible to say what happens in the next issue, and equally impossible to resist reading it.
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
Art by Robert Hack.
Letters by Jack Morelli.
8.5 out of 10