'Sabrina the Teenage Witch' #1 Review: A Delightful Debut That Is More Earnest Than Chilling

The Archie Comics world has had a bit of a cultural renaissance in recent years, with high-profile [...]

The Archie Comics world has had a bit of a cultural renaissance in recent years, with high-profile television adaptations like Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina injecting a modern feel as they introduce their characters to a whole new audience. Sabrina the Teenage Witch #1, which arrives in comic stores today, proves to be a comic reboot perfect for that new era of Archie storytelling, crafting a debut that strikes the right blend of spooky and endearing.

The issue sees Sabrina Spellman going about her life in a relatable predicament, as she begins her very first day at Greendale High. As she meets new friends, adversaries, and potential love interests, Sabrina tries to conceal her witch powers, only for a chain of events to plunge her deep into a supernatural mystery.

Regardless of what iteration of the teenage witch you're fond of, there's something in this first issue for you to enjoy. Sure, there are some elements, both aesthetically and narratively, that feel like echoes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but the series quickly sets itself up as something completely different. The whimsy and earnestness of Sabrina's '90s era feel pretty prevalent in this issue as well, in a way that will surely make older fans a little nostalgic. But by and large, the issue crafts a wholly original world, with (outside of Sabrina's family and Harvey Kinkle) a supporting cast of entirely new characters, and a narrative that strikes the right blend between Lovecraftian doom and gloom and the incredibly natural stakes of being a teenage girl.

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(Photo: Archie Comics)

From Nancy Drew to Jessica Jones to Kate Bishop, writer Kelly Thompson has become a master at writing nuanced and lovable female leads, a talent that she effortlessly extends to Sabrina Spellman. Thompson honors the decades of legacy around the character while giving her every bit of agency, personality, and earnestness that she so easily embodies. The way Sabrina interacts with the world around her really drives this issue, with some pretty delightful results, especially if you're a fan of Salem the cat. This early in, it's almost a shame that this reboot is set to be a five-issue miniseries, because the way that Thompson brings Sabrina to life should be part of the Archie world for a long while.

In the hands of a different artist, the issue's unique balance of tone might not be conveyed very easily, but Veronica and Andy Fish prove to be a pretty perfect compliment to Thompson's narrative. Each character feels way more lived-in and emotional than one would expect in a debut issue, with everything from the fashion to the facial expressions being a genuine joy to look at. The Fishes' use of color throughout the issue is truly wonderful, particularly with the brightly hued backgrounds of certain panels and moments. (There's also something to be said for the number of diverse skin tones that are represented throughout the issue, something that does not factor into mainstream comics as much as it could and should.)

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(Photo: Archie Comics)

The lettering by Jack Morelli, who is no stranger to the Archie world, also furthers the issue's whimsical energy in an interesting way. There's something both modern and timeless about how the lettering is presented, allowing both nuanced conversations and quippy jokes to carry the same amount of weight.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch #1 succeeds on essentially every level, crafting a modern solo debut that simultaneously honors the iterations before it while also feeling completely original and fresh. Everything from Kelly Thompson's earnest narrative to the poppy visuals from Veronica and Andy Fish clearly has a lot of detail behind it, while also coming across as almost effortless. If you're a fan of any era of Sabrina Spellman, or you just want to read a comic that's genuinely fun, this is definitely one you should pick up.

Published by Archie Comics

On March 27, 2019

Written by Kelly Thompson

Art by Veronica Fish and Andy Fish

Lettering by Jack Morelli