It has been a full year since the last issue of Sabrina came out, probably because Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was busy writing for the television show “Riverdale” (which I watched with my daughter and is quite good). Although it was a long wait, it was well worth it. The quality of this comic, in terms of both writing and visual artistic style, sets it in a class by itself.
Essentially, this is the back story concerning Sabrina’s father, Edward Spellman, who is resurrected and inhabiting the body of Sabrina’s boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle (a little Electra complex happening here). Edward recounts his initiation into the dark arts, his rise to power in the Church of Satan, and how he came to be imprisoned in the limbo dimension.
This installment is dark and disturbing on multiple levels. The content is macabre, the imagery intense, it is psychologically distressing, and the tale leaves the reader with a sense of tension and foreboding which is stoked by what is left unsaid. For truly, it is the unknown possibilities that stir the deepest fear within us, and Aguirre-Sarcasa is a master when it comes to leaving just enough of the story hidden to evoke the most profound terror in the reader.
Readers should be warned that this is not a comic for the timid. But if you love the macabre and long to peer into the stuff of nightmares, then get thee to the store and buy a copy.
It’s been a year since the last Afterlife with Archie comic, and this one hits you like an unexpected sucker punch. It reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, where Reggie, the protagonist of this installment, is overcome with guilt over his actions that ultimately led to the current crisis. He struggles with thoughts, memories, questioning his basic humanity and grappling with the fact that he might be a sociopath, void of human emotion and unable to feel empathy or compassion.
After confessing to Kevin, Reggie leaves the group and goes off on his own, in an attempt to atone for his sins and shed the guilt that is festering within. But at the final moment, when it comes time to do what he needs to do, something happens which causes him to fully embrace his dark side. He becomes the sociopath he feared he might be. It is that poignant, tangible instance where an individual crosses the threshold to become the thing he loathes.
We have seen this archetype so many times before in literature, but it never ceases to fascinate me. What is it that finally causes someone to relinquish their hold on the last thread of their humanity?
Reggie says that we all envision ourselves as the hero, as the one doing the right thing. But sometimes we lose sight of what is truly right and the path that seems clear is the one that leads us to our ultimate demise.
I think: “Everyone is the hero of their own story.” You don’t find out who you really are until the world tests you…
While this is a brilliant story and beautifully illustrated, it is a very dark and disturbing tale. It forces us to look at ourselves in a way that is not comfortable. But in my opinion, that is the purpose of art, to make you uncomfortable and to challenge your established beliefs about the world and yourself.
This graphic series never ceases to impress me. The writing and artwork are both so outstanding that I’m kind of shocked at just how great it is. It is nothing short of graphic horror at its finest.
In this episode, the survivors from Riverdale are holed up at the Bradbury Hotel in Vermont (a nod to Ray Bradbury?). Much of the installment features Archie sitting at the hotel bar, conversing with the ghost of Jughead. It is a clear allusion to The Shining. In fact, this issue is full of references to classic horror films and books, as well as to psychological novels like Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness which explore the darker realms of the human psyche.
I cannot stress enough just how good the writing is in this graphic novel. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa weaves a tale as masterfully as anyone. I literally found myself hanging on every word. But the real genius is the way the story is structured. We have the beginning, where Archie converses with the “ghost” of Jughead, which in reality is Archie creating a separate entity out of his own psyche with which to talk out his internal conflicts and fears. The story then transitions into reality, where Archie is guided by his mother back into the presence of the others. The episode climaxes with a blending of the psychological and the physical, expressed through actual events interspersed with snippets of thought and memory. It is so well-crafted, I am inspired to read it again as I write these words.
This series is so good and works on so many levels, I highly recommend it to everyone, even if you are not a fan of graphic horror, because the craftsmanship of the writing and artwork are both so strong. If you’ve read any of this series, please feel free to share your thoughts.