The Magic of Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Archie and Friends All-Stars


By Bill Golliher, Abby Denson, George Gladir, Holly G!, Al Nickerson & various (Archie Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-879794-75-7

Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch debuted in Archie’s Madhouse #22 (October 1962), created by George Gladir & Dan de Carlo as a throwaway character in the gag anthology which was simply one more venue for comics’ undisputed kings of kids’ comedy.

Almost instantly she proved popular enough to become a regular in the burgeoning cast surrounding core stars Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge and Jughead Jones.

By 1969 the comely enchantress had grown popular enough to win her own animated Filmation TV series (just like Archie and Josie and the Pussycats), thereby graduating to lead feature in Archie’s TV Laugh Out before finally winning her own title in 1971.

The first volume ran 77 issues from 1971 to 1983 and, when a hugely successful live action TV series launched in 1996, an adapted comicbook iteration appeared in 1997. That version folded in 1999 after a further 32 issues.

Volume 3 – simple entitled Sabrina – was based on new TV show Sabrina the Animated Series. This ran from 2000-2002 for 37 issues before a back-to-basics reboot saw the comicbook revert to Sabrina the Teenage Witch with #38. This carefully blended elements from all the previous print and TV versions.

A creature of seemingly infinite variation and variety, the mystic maid continued in this vein until 2004 and issue #57 wherein – acting on the global popularity of Japanese comics – the company boldly switched format, transforming the series into a manga-style high school comedy-romance in the classic Shōjo manner.

Sabrina is just a typical Greendale High School girl. She lives with her Aunts, Hilda and Zelda Spellman, has a pet cat – Salem – and is tentatively dating childhood pal Harvey Kinkle. The cute but clueless boy reciprocates the affection but is far too scared to rock the boat by acting on his own desires.

Sabrina is an atypical witch: half-mortal (on her mother’s side), living in the mundane world and passing herself off as normal. Complicating here life is snide and snarky Amy Reinhardt – a spiteful mortal rival for Harvey’s affections who will do anything to upset the magical maid’s ambitions…

This particular grimoire of giggles is a collection cherry-picked from #38-56 of that third volume and celebrates the wacky wonder of teen hormones and black magic acting in tandem.

After few pinup pages the magic – illustrated throughout with dazzling verve by artist Holly G! and inker Al Nickerson – starts to unfold with ‘Internet Threat’ (scripted by Bill Golliher) wherein Sabrina starts lazily abusing her gifts and is grounded by her aunts. After Salem find a loophole in the edict, Sabrina tries making magic online and is soon abducted by the arcane and aggressively invasive Empire of Lost E-Mail

The concluding chapter sees the bellicose byte-brutes similarly capture Hilda and Zelda before the three witches unite to outwit the digital dastards…

The two-part ‘Spell Trouble’ finds the young witch slipping into more bad habits and summarily despatched to an otherworldly after-school program to correct her “spelling” difficulties. Here she meets cute boy Shinji Yamagi: a gorgeous, popular young warlock working to overcome his embarrassing “Spellexia” who is well set to complicate her life with Harvey…

In ‘All’s Fair-y’, a generous act by Hilda allows a plague of ungrateful pixies to infest the house, after which single-pager ‘Purr Pals’ finds Salem looking for feline companionship and hooking up with Josie and the Pussycats…

Holly G! scripts as well as pencils ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ as Amy makes another brazen play for Harvey, forcing Sabrina to compete on her rival’s terms in a talent competition. Of course in love and war all things are fair, even conjuring robot musicians for an instant rock band…

Salem is no ordinary cat. Centuries ago he was Salem Saberhagen: the most powerful warlock on all Earth. After trying to conquer the world he was imprisoned in a cat’s body where he could do no magic, but he can still talk and his rehabilitation is, at best, grudging. However, when his 100-year parole meeting comes due, Sabrina is notably missing from the hearing and mean head witch Enchantra messes with the prodigal’s memory in ‘Sabrina Who?’: an extended epic written by Golliher.

Happily another previously de-powered, ensorcelled animal steps in to save the day, thereby ending her own four-footed enchanted exile in the process…

Holly G!’s ‘Model Witch’ sees Sabrina elected Teen Witch of the Month in a breezy tale recapitulating her origins and family life, after which Golliher introduces a new enemy. A mermaid seductress sets her sights on Harvey and uses deep-sea magic to further her aims in three-part thriller ‘Danger from the Deep’

A school sleepover in a condemned haunted house sees a pair of aggravating spooks follow Sabrina home until she finds them a far more upscale permanent residence in ‘A Haunting We Will Go’ whilst an exclusive invitation from a prestigious “Other Realm” institution adds to her work woes when Sabrina is offered a place at ‘Charm School’.

The singular honour and the new and old friends already there are hard to resist, but Enchantra’s bratty daughter Lilith is determined to get Sabrina expelled before she even begins…

Back on Earth Abby Denson scripts ‘Bikini Babes’ with the school sorceress trying to boost a mortal friend’s confidence by charming her new swimsuit – and thereby unleashing a social monster – before ‘It’s My Party’ (Golliher, Holly G! & Nickerson) sees Sabrina’s stressed-out life go into overload as a big bash for her Charm School chums looks likely to drive human Harvey right into Amy’s eager clutches. Surprisingly, Shinji has the answer to Sabrina’s woes…

Denson returns to embroil the teen thaumaturge in role-playing game chaos as ‘It’s In the Cards’ sees two very different versions of the fantasy fascination grip both magic and mundane school kids whilst Holly G! details the alarming effects of elemental prankster Jack Frost on Sabrina in ‘Frost Bite’ before everything goes haywire for all witches as a planetary alignment sends their powers hilariously haywire in a ‘Zap Flap’ crafted by George Gladir, Holly G! & Nickerson.

Enticing, funny and genuinely enthralling, these magical riffs on a classic American icon will delight most fans and readers. Sheer exuberant fun; perfectly crafted and utterly irresistible…
© 2011 Archie Comic Publications. All rights reserved.