It has been four long years since the last issue of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina rolled off the press. So getting my hands on this new issue was a Halloween treat come early. The new issue picks up where Issue #8 left off, where Sabrina must balance the scales by sacrificing a human life to compensate for raising her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, from the dead (and there are other morbid twists here that I will intentionally leave out).
While there is so much for a horror fan to enjoy in this series (gore, cannibalism, demons, bestiality, just to name a few), and the artwork is eerily exquisite, for me, it is the quality of the writing that raises this comic above the realm of pulp and places it squarely into the category of artistic expression. To back up my claim, I need only quote from the opening pages of this issue.
We are entering the hours of the wolf. The hours between midnight and dawn… The hours when sleep is most profound, when nightmares are most real… The hours when the sleepless are haunted by their most profound fears… when ghosts and demons are at their most powerful… when the most unspeakable crimes are planned, when the darkest conspiracies are plotted… when the most terrible bargains are made; when witch-wishes are whispered aloud… Then comes the dawn. And with it, a clarity and sense of mission.
I must again emphasize that this is a very dark and very mature comic. If you are expecting a wholesome Archie comic like you remember from your younger days, you will be in for a real shock if you read this. But if you like reading dark, creepy, edgy stories during the Halloween season, then this is a must-read.
Since this is probably my favorite graphic tale on the shelves these days, it goes without saying that I was pretty excited to hear that it is also being developed into a television series. According to the studios:
“‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ reimagines the origin and adventures of ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’ as a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft. Tonally in the vein of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Exorcist,’ this adaptation finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature — half-witch, half-mortal — while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.”
Anyway, this issue continues to explore the darkest corners of human nature, including incestuous thoughts that Sabrina’s resurrected father entertains. But for me what makes this issue, and the series as a whole, most interesting is the incorporation of mythology and occult philosophy.
As a back story, Sabrina performed an act of necromancy to raise her dead boyfriend, Harvey. Unbeknownst to her, she actually resurrected her dead father in the form of her boyfriend. Sabrina’s aunts summon psychopomps to ferry the resurrected soul back to the realm of the dead. “Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply to provide safe passage. Appearing frequently on funerary art, psychopomps have been depicted at different times and in different cultures as anthropomorphic entities, horses, deer, dogs, whip-poor-wills, ravens, crows, owls, sparrows and cuckoos.” In this story, the psychopomps are visually depicted as cerebral jellyfish, sort of brains with tentacles, which is interesting when one considers that Carl Jung asserted that “the psychopomp is a mediator between the unconscious and conscious realms.” (Source: Wikipedia)
The installment ends on a dark and foreboding note. Sabrina’s cousin, Ambrose, reminds her of a basic tenet in the mystical arts, that every act has its consequence and the cost of the act must always be paid in full.
“Everything must be paid for, cousin… including Harvey. You ultimately ripped Harvey from his grave… so now you must send someone else to their premature death. Put plainly… you’re going to have to kill someone, Sabrina.”
Everything we do has a consequence, and this should be remembered at all times when we deal with others in the world. Nothing that we do is free from impunity. This is a natural law from which there is no avoidance.
Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading challenging stuff.
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It’s been nine long months since the last installment in this series. I had pretty much given up on it. But lo and behold, on my last visit to Comic Envy, there was a new Sabrina issue in my folder. It felt like Halloween came early.
It was worth the wait! Sabrina is so dark, so well written and illustrated, so steeped in the occult, there is really nothing that compares to it.
In this installment, Sabrina is placed on trial for alleged sins against the Satanic Church of Night. The trial is presided over by none other than Aleister Crowley. Sabrina is forced to undergo cruel tests to prove her innocence, reminiscent of Puritanical tests administered during the colonial witch trials.
After Sabrina’s “innocence” is established, she undertakes the dark rite of necromancy to raise her dead boyfriend, Harvey. The scenes of the rite are visually chilling and the text is as dark as the imagery.
The witches set about their grim task. First, a symbol representing the gateway between life and death is grooved into the dirt with a snapped-off branch. The branch is symbolic of the Tree of Life, as well as the pole Charon, ferryman of Death, uses to cross the River Styx. Next, a set of the dead person’s clothes is laid out on the ground, over the symbol. So that when the revenant comes back, they may cover their nakedness. Then five candles are lit and positioned around the clothes, so that there is light guiding the dead back to this plane of existence. Then, Sabrina is given the dread Demonomicon, and she recites the diabolical incantation: “…corpus levitas, diablo daminium, mondo viciim…” (The Demonomicon being a sister-book of the unholy Necronomicon.) The infernal dance comes next, and the chanting… “…for you who sleep in stone and clay, heed the call, rise up and obey, pass on through the mortal door, assemble flesh and walk once more…”
The spell works, but there is a very dark twist. Sorry, no spoilers here. You will have to purchase a copy and read it yourself.
One last thing I want to say about this issue. Superimposed over the main story is the enactment of Macbeth by the high school. It works spectacularly! I cannot emphasize enough how well the corresponding scenes connect to and add depth to the overarching storyline. It’s nothing short of brilliance in the genre of graphic horror.
“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”
Black mass, cannibalism, necromancy, bullying: this is without question one of the darkest comics I’ve ever read. But it is not just shock for shock’s sake; it is truly a well-crafted story with layers of complexity. Reading this is like rending open the darkest regions of your psyche and confronting those aspects of humanity that we all want to avoid.
Having witnessed Sabrina’s participation in a Satanic ritual, Sabrina’s boyfriend Harvey is horrifically killed and blame is placed on some neighborhood youths. Sabrina begins the process of trying to deal with the psychological torment that plagues her, knowing she is at least in part responsible for what happened, and having to lie to protect herself.
I think we have all done things which haunted us, which is why this comic is so damn visceral. It’s not the events; it’s the emotion that one relates to when reading this. And it’s not a comfortable emotion. But it is important to face your demons and experience the catharsis that results from doing so. This comic will challenge you emotionally and psychologically. You’ve been duly warned.
Yesterday I went with my daughter to the Halloween ComicFest at our local comic store. They advertised free comics and treats, so we couldn’t pass it up. We were each allowed to choose three free comics from a table of available issue. One of the ones I selected was this Afterlife with Archie comic. WHOA!! This is nothing like the Archie comics I remember from when I was a kid.
This is some pretty dark stuff. Basically, Reggie hit’s Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog, while driving and kills it. Jughead, in distress, takes Hot Dog to Sabrina and her aunts to see if they can use magick to bring the dog back. The aunts say that since the animal’s spirit has passed to the next realm, there is nothing that they can do. Sabrina decides to use the Necronomicon to bring Hot Dog back from the dead. But bringing back the dead has negative consequences and the story turns very dark and graphic.
I have to say that I have always viewed Archie as kind of fluffy, mainstream stuff. This is anything but. It draws on the horror genre from film, books, and comics. It also makes references to the darker occult practices and beliefs which are pretty accurate. And the illustrations, all in black and white, are about as nightmarish as they come. In fact, I found this to be more graphic and scary than other horror comics I’ve read recently, such as Creepy and Eerie. In fact, this is so well-done and scary, I’m seriously considering reading the rest of this series. I’m not sure how many will be in the series, but I am going to look into it.
If you are into graphic horror, you should give this a read. I say without hesitation that, with the exception of Wytches, it is the best horror comic I have read in a long time.
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