Some people would see a dragon as an excuse not to go to school. Sabrina Spellman sees it as a reason. Her aunts still haven’t come home since last issue (good for ensuring more scenes with Salem, bad for everything else) and with Greendale High being the site of so much magical activity lately, Sabrina figures she can kill two birds with one stone by going to class.
The problems keep piling on in Sabrina #4, but writer, Kelly Thompson, doesn’t let Sabrina get away with anything, like ditching class in Sabrina #2. It’s been a whole issue since then but in real life there’s no reason that infraction would be forgotten. People don’t get breaks because they have a lot going on in their lives (especially when they have to keep what’s going on a secret) but it’s a great storyteller who can cover her tracks and not make it feel like the story is stalling to tie up loose ends.
Plus, Thompson doesn’t treat Sabrina’s mortal life like the B-story for the magic parts. There’s not a page in this comic that’s gratuitous or where Sabrina’s ability to multitask doesn’t leave you in awe. The plot moves like a pinball machine and the one time it threatens to slow down (Harvey and Ren’s fight), Sabrina leaves, a baller move that feels like a kick in the pants to not feel obligated to stay anywhere you don’t have to be. Magic and high school are inseparable in this series, and every conversation has a secondary motive, like finding out about Greendale’s history with witches by going on a date with Harvey.
Speaking of that date, I’m not sure whether Mama’s Malts is canon or a new place to eat but, in keeping with their similar sounding names, it feels on brand that Greendale would have their own equivalent to Riverdale’s Pop’s Diner. What’s great though is the place gives off Riverdale vibes before you even realize that’s what it’s called, and that’s thanks to artists, Veronica and Andy Fish, who also incorporate some playful, cartoon imagery into this issue’s romances, like a heart-shaped panel at the end of Sabrina’s interaction with Harvey. What makes it brutal is the next panel is already back to being a rectangle, the heart having popped in conjunction with Sabrina remembering her love life is complicated.
Color-wise, I love that Harvey’s attempts to spook Sabrina out coincide with the colors getting darker during his storytelling. Sabrina’s hair color also becomes a topic of discussion when she forgets to maintain her glamor spell (I’ve mentioned it before but the way magic works in this series continues to be fascinating). She gets it squared away again, but later, when she “upgrades” to get ready for battle (a change that extends all the way to Jack Morelli’s letters becoming more formal), her hair turns back to white, its natural color. This is Sabrina at her strongest – half witch, half mortal – and I hope this series gets changed to an on-going because it’s going to be rough saying goodbye next month otherwise.
Sabrina #4 is available now from Archie Comics.