Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 (2014)
Story/Writer: Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa
Art/Colors: Robert Hack
Letters: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Jon Goldwater
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a dark story that (to my knowledge) takes place in the Afterlife with Archie universe. Much like that series, this book takes the normally fun adventures of a childhood character and warps them into a more menacing tale. The issue is divided into 2 parts, Sabrina's childhood, and her teen years (featuring a short cameo with some familiar characters). The book also contains a letters page, some of Hack's sketches, a note to the reader from Aquirre-Sacasa, and a reprinting of an old Sabrina story. Each issue is going to have a reprinted tale in the back, which is a nice touch and will help keep the books dark tones a littler lighter.
The story begins with Sabrina's father, Edward, speaking to the local coven about the plans for his daughter to be part of a ritual. However, upon going to get his daughter, he finds that his wife has run off with her. There is a short chase, but Sabrina is recovered and her mom is dealt with in a disturbing way. The story then goes through time as Sabrina gets older and her powers grow. It strongly builds the sense of family between her aunts, Hilda and Zelda, as they all grow attached and handle whatever life throws their way such as local bullies, public school, etc etc (but usually with a twist). Sabrina also gets a relatively friendly talking cat named Salem, who immediately feels like a friend and guardian to her. That whooooole description is very PG, as the story has some messed up things that happen but I don't want to spoil all of it! Anyway, the story ends as Sabrina enters her teen years and the house gets a new tenant of sorts. Aquirre-Sacasa does an excelent job of revealing to the reader only what needs to be revealed at the moment, while hinting to mysteries that will shape the characters' lives in future issues.
Robert Hack's art is realistic and sketchy (good sketchy) with human figures that make sense and magic that is drawn more practically then over the top. Human expressions (my favorite thing to discuss) are detailed and consistent, especially in the drawing of the eyes. There is never a moment when you will be confused about a character's feelings. The backgrounds aren't extremely detailed but they are colored with a specific hue that gives you the detail you need while making sure you don't get distracted from the characters. Even with a different title you would be able to tell Sabrina is the main character with the way her hair is always colored in a vibrant yellow that always attracts the eye. As the story progresses the color fades but by that time your eye is already trained to look at this character. It's a really cool effect.
This book is freakin' great! The atmosphere is perfect, the cliffhanger makes you want to read more, and the characters are compelling. Not only that but it is fun to compare the new frightening stories with the old vibrant ones. This first issue sold out quick and a second printing came out recently so you should still be able to find it. Jump on to this series quick because it is the start of a hit!