Current Reviews


Sabrina the Teenage Witch #91

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2008
By: Penny Kenny

Tania Del Rio
Tania Del Rio, Jim Amash (i), Jason Jensen (c)
Archie Comics
“The Turning” (part 2)

This chapter of “The Turning” begins with Sabrina having a nightmare and ends with her becoming one. The wands she bought at her tutor’s yard sale seem to have possessed the teen witch. She attacks her aunt, heedlessly uses magic in the mortal realm for her own ends, threatens her friends in the Four Blades movement, and sets out to break up Harvey and Amy once and for all.

After the less than spectacular last issue, Tania Del Rio and this storyline are back on track. Sabrina’s descent into darkness has happened quickly; she’s become a moody, argumentative, mean teenager. In one way this issue is a magical metaphor for the growing pains most teens go through at some point – questioning authority, feeling alienated from friends and loved ones, and wanting to be a more powerful someone else. But there’s a darker subtext also. Sabrina’s become addicted to the wands. She’s hurting the ones she cares about and jeopardizing both herself and others in her need to use her power. There’s some pretty heavy stuff going on beneath the candy colored covers of this book and that’s part of the reason it’s so compelling. On the other hand, if you only want to read the surface, you’ve got a pretty nifty story there too. Del Rio has set up some interesting questions: Where did the wands come from? Is Sabrina going to become a prisoner of the Magic Council again? Will she join Hemlock and betray the Four Blades movement? Will she ever get Harvey back? And will Shinji ever trust her again? The answers to these should make fascinating reading.

The pointed teeth and ears, as well as the darker outfits and different hairstyles Sabrina sports as she gives in to the wands’ evil influence are nice visual reinforcements of the emotional changes she’s going through. In fact she’s looking a lot like the spy Hemlock by the end of the book, which is creepy in itself.

While a couple of panels show a Sabrina who is far too spindly-legged and stiff in her movements, the art team makes up for it with some absolutely beautiful scenes. The opening dream sequence is gorgeous. Del Rio and Jim Amash capture Sabrina’s start of surprise, her hope, and ultimate despair perfectly. It’s a bravura eight panel sequence that summarizes what’s gone before and sets up what’s coming. Likewise, the five panel sequence where Sabrina sees Amy and Harvey kissing is another example of packing a lot of emotion into a few panels. The slanted panels that show only slices of Sabrina’s reaction force the reader’s imagination to supply the rest, actively engaging them in the story. The final panel of the set, showing an almost shrunken Sabrina against a totally black background, and the single word “No,” is more powerful than many a wordy splash page. It’s a great example of minimalism maximizing the emotional potential. Finally, the three panels in which Sabrina delivers her “I can do whatever I want! Just try and stop me” speech is just plain scary. Del Rio uses off-kilter panels and draws in closer on Sabrina’s face with each shot to finally focus in on a close-up of her small smile of sinister promise, the pointed tooth prominently displayed. This is the moment Sabrina goes over the edge and it’s handled VERY nicely.

The second part of “The Turning” is definitely a can’t miss issue for Sabrina fans.

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