Writer: Tania Del Rio
Artist: Tania Del Rio (p), Jim Amash (i), Jason Jensen (colors)
Publisher: Archie Comics
After revealing Sabrina’s secret to her mortal boyfriend Harvey last issue, writer Tania Del Rio takes the opportunity this issue to send the pair to “Greener Pastures” and spill a few secrets about Harvey. While visiting his grandparents on their alpaca farm, Sabrina and the readers get the opportunity to learn a bit more about what makes long time supporting character Harvey tick. And it’s about time.
Harvey has been something of a cipher. A holdover from the pre-manga days of the book, he’s been portrayed as sweet, kind, athletic, popular with girls and boys, and awkward at relationships. He’s the antithesis of Shinji, the other boy in Sabrina’s life, who’s much bolder in going after what he wants. Harvey seemingly wants to be Sabrina’s boyfriend, but she’s always been the one who’s taken the lead in their relationship. Almost terrified of being identified as part of a couple, yet clearly not wanting to hurt Sabrina’s feelings, he’s been one of the most puzzling members of the cast. It’s entirely due to Del Rio’s talent as a writer-artist that Harvey has as many fans among readers as he does. In many other writers’ hands he would have become the 60s’ Steve Trevor, the one that readers couldn’t wait to see meet an unfortunate end. After meeting Harvey’s mother though, readers will at last understand why he has some of the issues he does. Very much a mamagon or maternal dragon figure, she makes it crystal clear she has no intention of allowing Harvey to continue his relationship with Sabrina. Anyone familiar with the Hot Gimmick manga will recognize Ms. Cohen as Mrs. Tachibana’s long-lost twin sister. I don’t know if Del Rio has read that particular series, but the two women share a similar attitude and even something of the same look.
Sabrina continues to have some of the cutest, without being overly kawaii, characters on the stands. Del Rio has really outdone herself in “Aw” moments this issue. Don’t believe me? Check out Sabrina and Harvey on their picnic; Harvey, his grandmother, and the dog; Sabrina and Harvey kissing beneath the stars; and Sabrina and Harvey in the very last panel. Beautifully rendered moments all. Lest you think all I do is flip through looking for Harvey and Sabrina moments, Harvey’s grandparents also have a charming design. There’s a former flower child feel to them that’s very appealing. I must confess however, the scenes I keep flipping back to admire are the ones involving the fluffy yet dignified alpacas and the attitudinal chickens. Del Rio and Jim Amash have done a beautiful job on them.
Of course, credit also has to be given to Jason Jensen. He’s again outdone himself. The way he shades and shadows the variety of greens on the farm – beautiful! And the panels showing evening sliding into night are just fantastic! He’s now my favorite “sky” person after Miyazaki and the artists responsible for the Wings of the Honneamise skies.
Sabrina is a book that just keeps getting better and better. The team continues to raise the quality bar issue after issue, and in the two and a half years the manga look has been in effect, there has yet to be a clunker. This issue easily deserves its four bullets, but the series overall rates a four and a half.
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