Published on April 28th, 2015 | by Steven Roman
Review: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2
Archie Comics’ Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Afterlife with Archie) and illustrated by Robert Hack (Kolchak: The Lovecraftian Damnation), opens with the reanimated, nude corpse of a woman with skulls for eyes as she steps from a lake near a girls’ summer camp and (off-panel) tears off the face of the prettiest girl she finds so she can wear it. Then she puts that face to use so she can hitch a ride to track down the people she holds responsible for sending her to hell.
A little background: Madam Satan made her debut in the pages of Pep Comics #16, published by MLJ Magazines in June 1941; you can read it here for free at the site Comic Book Plus. In the origin story, titled “Madam Satan,” we meet a greedy beauty named Tyra who has plans to marry John, the son of a wealthy couple. When the parents disagree, Tyra poisons them, then puts them in a car and pushes it off a cliff. (Talk about having anger management issues!) When John finds out and confronts Tyra, she pulls a knife, only to accidentally fall on it and die. Her soul is then drawn to hell, where the Devil proclaims her “Madam Satan” and sends her back to Earth to raise some hell. (Hey, you find somebody that talented at being naturally evil, you put them to work right away.)
Tyra (later renamed Iola) didn’t have much of a comic run, though, as her adventures were cut short to make way for those of a certain comical, redheaded teen doomed to an eternity of hardships via a pair of temptresses all his own. But as the old saying goes, the circle is now complete, because Madam Satan has finally made her return to Archie Comics—and set her sights on Sabrina.
As with the Rosemary’s Baby–inspired Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1, “The Secret History of Madam Satan” is a slow burn, a throwback to slower-paced classic horror built on character development and creeping horror, with only a minor bit of tweaking required to bring Iola in line with Sabrina’s world. There are shout-outs to Edgar Allan Poe and Ray Bradbury, with the latter’s novel Something Wicked This Way Comes appearing to be the influence this time around, with the arrival of a great evil in an American small town where it always seems to be October (Hack’s orange-tinged artwork has a lot to do with setting that mood). On a somewhat lighter note, there are also musical cues to be found, in Sabrina trying out for the lead in her high school’s performance of the musical Bye Bye Birdie, and Madam Satan’s scary rendition of the Doris Day standard, “Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).” Well, the series is set in the 1960s. You’re not going to find any Glee pop-tune numbers in this comic.
Bottom line? Chilling Adventures of Sabrina might have lost a little traction in gaining a wider readership by experiencing a six-month delay following the release of its debut issue, but it more than makes up for the scheduling gaff with its content. And fans who’ve eagerly been awaiting this second issue won’t be disappointed. Character-driven horror comics haven’t been this interesting since the days of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s memorable run on Tomb of Dracula. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2
“The Crucible, Chapter 2: The Secret History of Madam Satan”
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art and main cover by Robert Hack
Publisher: Archie Comics
32 pages • full-color
Now on sale