Review: Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Something Wicked

 Something Wicked this way comes.

Written by Kelly Thompson, Art by Andy Fish, Veronica Fish & Jack Morelli.

After the success of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Netflix series, Archie Comics did their best to push Sabrina Spellman again. She was introduced in the Archie series as a new love interest for Archie and received her own 5-issue series in 2019. That solo-series ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger and the promise of a follow-up. The first issue of the follow-up series, Something Wicked, released in April of 2020 and finally came to a conclusion late last month. Yeah, blame the pandemic and the shutdown of comic distributor Diamond for that delay. I enjoyed that first series, which you can read all about it in the review I did on that series.

With all of that out of the way, it’s time to start the review on Something Wicked proper. How does the story of Sabrina Spellman continue? Is it a worthy continuation? Yes, it is. While maybe not as coherent as that original series, Something Wicked is still just as good and enjoyable.

Let’s dive in.

Something Wicked picks up a little while after the end of the original run. Radka figured out that Sabrina is a Witch and is now blackmailing her in trying to lift the curse she and her brother Ren are under. Her attempts at lifting the curse have, until now, been fruitless. Figuring out the nature of the curse is difficult and Radka herself isn’t all that helpful either. All the effort, all of the late nights working on lifting the curse is also putting a big strain on Sabrina. Her grades are slipping and she has barely any time to hang around with her friends. The Witch Della, owner of a local Christmas shop and member of the Witch’s council, has taken a special interest in Sabrina as of late. Sabrina welcomes the opportunity of a new mentor in her life, but it’s not doing her any favours when it comes to the balance in her life. Sabrina has been spread so thin, that she barely notices that Greendale has a problem of its own: a serial killer stalking the streets at night. Now, this wouldn’t have anything to do with the magical world, now would it?

The story of Something Wicked is a good one. For starters, it does a good job of setting the stage. Tell the story in a way that you can easily understand without having to read the previous series first. Doing so provides the reader with context and results in a more rewarding read, sure, but it’s not a necessity. The writing of the story, the characters, the tone etc. are still well done. Kelly Thompson is still the writer for this incarnation of Sabrina and she does a nice job of making her a likeable protagonist. This series also puts the focus more on the Ransom siblings, doing a good job of fleshing them out as characters and the humour in the book is just as good as before.

It is, however, not as coherent as the story that precedes it. That one did a much better job of balancing and making a distinction between the magical and the mundane. One of the points of the story is Sabrina’s desire to not have to lie to her friends about the magical and parts of the two starting to crossover I recognize that, but I still can’t help but feel the new magical world is underdeveloped in comparison the mundane.

On the upside, the story does a much better job with the villain this time around. The big-bad from the last story was nothing to write home about. It leads to an awesome final battle sequence (which was my favourite moment of that run) but that was about it. The bad guy was boring. He didn´t have much of a character and his motivations were also lacklustre.

Here though, the villain is much improved. They have a larger part in the story for one, making the final reveal of their villainy much more rewarding. They´re also much more tied in with Sabrina and other members of the books cast which ups the stakes and makes the conflict much more personal. The final confrontation isn’t as epic this time around, but I didn´t really have that many problems with it myself.

Witches have their own playing card game to. Who knew?

One of the oddities I found with the original run was how the spells were handled. Every single one of them was numbered with the clear intention that the overuse of the spells would have some repercussions. Those repercussions never came though, not in a clear way anyway. Something Wicked drops the numbering of the spells, instead opting to show the price you pay in a more visual manner, unsettling Sabrina and making her question her use of magic going forward. A much better way of handling this plot point.

The art of the series is once again excellent. The books creative team is the same as the 2019 Sabrina after all. It’s a combination of more cartoony with the overall design work of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina series. It’s expressive, handles both light and dark moments well and is just very pleasant to look at. The backgrounds, e.g. the design of the Spellman, is especially well done.  It’s also a bit more consistent this time around, the styles of the artist match more closely, which I can appreciate.

Conclusion

Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Something Wicked (shortened to Sabrina: Something Wicked for the trade) is, once again, a good mini-series. It has a well-written story with likeable and well-realized characters alongside good art. It fixes some of the problems with the previous Sabrina series, like the lacklustre villain, though it also introduces some problems of its own like a less coherent plot. If you enjoyed this series predecessor, Sabrina's appearance over in the main Archie book or have met the character on Netflix, you'll find something to enjoy here. Something Wicked is a series that I thoroughly recommend.

And now, one last little thing. Just like its predecessor, Something Wicked ends with tea for a possible follow-up: We Are Witches. There’s no word from Archie Comics (as of this review) that this follows up will actually materialize though. But: with how much the final issue of this series was delayed, I can’t imagine them leaving this tease in if they didn’t have any intention to follow through on it. Fingers crossed!

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