The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 8 Highlights “Teenage” and “Witch” in Equal Measure

by Drew Baumgartner

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 8

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Teenagers are exhausting to argue with. The reasons for this are both biological (an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex soaking in teenage hormones isn’t the best recipe for critical reasoning) and psychological (the complex mix of rebellion and conformity that makes up the teenage psyche makes acquiescing to even the most persuasive argument difficult), but anyone who has ever had to tell a teen “no” will have a much more practical understanding. Lacking the perspective of a longer, more worldly life, teens tend to be over-invested in everything from romantic relationships to whether or not they can borrow the family car, so everything feels like the end of the world. That means teens don’t have a lot of headroom for when something is actually a big deal, so can come off as almost blasé on matters of life and death even as they might throw a tantrum about having to mow the lawn. This is exactly the situation in which Hilda and Zelda find themselves in this issue as they try (and fail) to make a love-drunk Sabrina see just how reckless she’s being. Continue reading

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 7: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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Ryan M: Writing in the point of view of a sociopath creates a set of problems. They will never have the kind of human connection or emotional growth that ground most stories. It’s why most serial killer stories are from the perspective of the detective on the case. It’s easy to alienate the audience when you allow a sociopath to tell the story. When these characters express an earnest truth about themselves, rather than make them more sympathetic, it emphasizes what’s “wrong” with them. Often, weaving in an undercurrent of irony or dark humor can make the character easier to take. Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho breaks up graphic tales of murder with pop music critiques. A tale of horror must offer the reader a break from the evil or suffer a tediousness that lessens the impact of the darkest moments. In Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 7, Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack use humor to give release as Edward Spellman tells his life story.

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Afterlife With Archie 9

afterlife with archie 9

Today, Taylor and Ryan M. are discussing Afterlife With Archie 9, originally released May 25th, 2016.

Taylor: At the beginning of Afterlife With Archie, Reggie says, “everyone is the hero of their own life story.” This is an old saying that certainly has some truth to it; the world as any individual conceives it, necessarily revolves around themselves. This is a powerful idea and it speaks to the nature of how persuasive solipsistic thinking can be. However, after stating this, Reggie imagines himself saving the day by leading some horses back to the survivors of the Riverdale zombie outbreak. The message seems to be that not only are we the center of our own stories, but we are also always the good guy in our personal narrative. But Reggie doesn’t see himself as the good guy in his own life story, he sees himself as the bad guy.

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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 5

Alternating Currents: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 5, Drew and Ryan M.

Today, Drew and Ryan M. are discussing The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 5, originally released May 18, 2016.

…he says that it was a spree, you know? A drifter or “gang of drifters.” You know, like it’s 1942. Like, uh, drifters are a national threat…

Deputy Molly Solverson, Fargo

Drew: That quote isn’t going to make a ton of sense to folks who haven’t seen season 1 of Fargo, but for me, it perfectly illustrates the tension between genre and setting that I’ve come to absolutely love about that series. David Lynch is the undisputed master of this kind of tension, exploiting it to idiosynchratic heights in Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet, but for me, Fargo twists the knife a little further by making the characters explicitly aware of this incongruity. It’s not just about the seedy crime underworld of the seemingly innocent midwest, it’s about how nobody within that setting could conceive of something so dark happening there — they basically believe they’re living in a caricature of 1942.

Archie Comics is notorious for representing a similar caricature of mid-20th-century high-school, which is exactly what writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has played against in Archie’s horror line. That tension carries Afterlife With Archie, which largely plays its genre straight, but is complicated much more in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which freely mixes its 1960s teen comic setting with its modern horror sensibilities, playing those elements off each other in unexpected ways. It’s both genres and neither of those genres, giving it an unpredictability that may just be more vital than anything Lynch or the Coen brothers could cook up. Continue reading

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2

sabrina 2

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2, originally released April 15, 2015.

“[Horror movies] urge us to put away our more civilized and adult penchant for analysis and to become children again, seeing things in pure blacks and whites. It may be that horror movies provide physic relief on this level because this invitation to lapse into simplicity, irrationality and even outright madness is extended so rarely. We are told we may allow our emotions free rein… or no rein at all.”

Stephen King, ‘Why We Crave Horror Movies’

Patrick: I’ve always found it hard to explain the appeal of a scary movie — even to myself. Generally speaking, I don’t consider myself a fan of horror. Why add to the anxiety in my life, right? But I have to admit that most of my most memorable moments watching movies have been forged during flicks that scared the shit out of me. Sixth grade super camp — outdoor screening of The Birds. Eighth grade, all-night movie fest, my first viewing of The Exorcist. My reactions to these movies transcend logic, appealing directly to my baser impulses. But fear is not the only thing human beings feel deep down past their rational cores; sex appeal is equally illogical. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2 plays with the concepts of sex and horror and takes advantage of the reader’s lizard brain reaction to both. Continue reading

Afterlife with Archie 7

Alternating Currents: Afterlife with Archie 7, Drew and PatrickToday, Drew and Patrick are discussing Afterlife with Archie 7, originally released December 10th, 2014.

The critic encounters standard elements of comics work — word balloons, square panels, standard layouts — and immediately interprets them as meaningful to the content of the work. This is another example of the critic’s own ignorance coming out to play. Imagine if a critic wrote (of a prose novel) that “the straightness of the lines of text reflect the narrator’s matter-of-fact perception of the world, and the ordering of the letters from left-to-right functions as a subtle reference to his growing political conservatism as he comes of age over the course of the novel.”

Dylan Meconis, “How Not to Write Comics Criticism

The medium is the message.

Michael McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Drew: These two statements might seem contradictory, but I firmly believe both of them. All elements of any work of art are meaningful, but not all are uniquely meaningful. Meconis makes this distinction later in his essay, acknowledging that even the elements we tend to take for granted can be full of meaning, but I tend to agree that they aren’t always worth noting in a discussion with a limited word count. The problem, of course, is in distinguishing which elements are uniquely meaningful to the work at hand, and which can be understood as “standard elements” — an easy task when you’re familiar with the medium (or genre) in question, but becomes a bit more treacherous when you aren’t. In those cases, we have to weigh the value of those fresh eyes (which might be more valuable for a discussion aimed at people equally unfamiliar) vs. doing more research (which will be better for an audience already well-versed in the medium/genre). I’ve opted for the former in this discussion of Afterlife with Archie 7, so my apologies to anyone who is no longer as excited about the novelty of Archie! With! Zombies! Continue reading