Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is one hell of a week from horror comics. Yes, we know, the last few weeks we werent able to meet for our weekly engagement, leaving a void in your heart. But I am definitely making up for this week because some truly explosive comics are bursting onto the scene this week. Mark L. Miller and Carlos Grande give us some three ring terror, Archie Comics grace us with their new Sabrina entry, and the master of the macabre, Scott Snyder, drops a horror bomb on us with Wytches.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by Robert Hack
Published by Archie Comics
Its no secret that I am an avid fan of the recently launched Afterlife with Archie. It took a product that is well known and established and completely flipped it on its head with dark material and adult horror movie conventions. Im obviously not the only fan because the guys at Archie Comics have decided to do the same with Sabrina.
The comic takes us way back to the late-’50s, when Sabrina Spellman, daughter of Edward and Helen is born, and within three pages this usually happy go lucky world gets a much more sinister turn. Turns out Sabrina was taken by her aunts, who are part of a high council of witches, against her mothers will. Her father is an outcast, her mother is in the looney bin, and her aunts and Salem are a little rough around the edges. Aguirre-Sacasa still manages to create a loving familial feeling with the Spellmans, which is morbidly fun, and also introduces a great round of support characters, such as the warlock Ambrose and fellow school mates Harvey Kinkle and Roz.
This is a near perfect origin issue. Sacasa puts his heart into the franchise and it shows. Hacks heart is a bit messy at times but is ultimately fitting for the retrofitting the comic is attempting. Its not quite as fun as Afterlife with Archie, but its damn near close.
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jock
Published by Image Comics
This is one truly terrifying comic. The Rooks family have just moved. Charlie Rooks is a graphic novelist working on a Disney-esque comic about a boy in an enchanted amusement park. His wife Lucy is in a wheelchair and his daughter Sail who is plagued by a traumatic event that has not only affected her but her life as a whole.
The first issue does its job at establishing the family, the sensitive and protective father and optimist mother, as well as the frightened daughter. All during the set up, Snyder slowly creeps little moments of strange and creepy images into the story, a flash of terror, and manages to keep a fluid and enjoyable pace. The tension builds, as does the mystery, and some of both are relieved by the end of the comic but not without dropping a cliffhanger on the reader by the last page.
The imagery is chilling, Jock does a spectacular job at balancing the human nature with the supernatural wickedness that bounce back and forth throughout the issue. Even with just this premiere issue, its easy to see that Wytches is going to be a tour de force in horror.
Written by Mark L. Miller
Art by Carlos Grande
Published by Black Mask Comics
Almost universally, clowns are pretty much recognized as one of the most feared characters in nearly every medium. With Pirouette, Miller introduces us to a rambunctious clown that shares her name with the title of the comic. She is a free spirit, a personality almost too big for even the circus, but things get real dark real fast.
Miller creates a spooky atmosphere but paints a thin veiled mask of joy over it, much like clowns themselves. Pirouette dreams of flying high on the trapeze but at the insistence of her adoptive father, a particularly terrifying clown called The Duke, she is relegated to living her life on the ground as a clown.
The entire comic, something sinister lurks just in the peripherals, every panel hints that things are not quite what they seem under the big top. By the end of the comic, we start to see the true undeniably human terror that is plaguing our titular character.
Grandes art is beautiful, exaggerated and cartoony when it needs to be but flips to ultra-detailed and realistic at the most crucial moments. His ability to juxtapose action and background is stellar, capturing the atmosphere and buzz of a crowded circus with ease. Miller and Grande have created a comic that skips any supernatural fare and plays off the darkest of human behaviors to frighten you on a level thats all too real.