Harvey Kinkle dies. There’s no way around this little spoiler for a review of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #4, because it’s the focal point of the issue; Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack seem to delight in causing the kids of these Archie horror tales extreme pain and sorrow, and Chilling Adventures #4 doesn’t shy away from exploring the huge sense of loss that Sabrina feels after Harvey is eaten by the very witches to whom she’s pledging her life and soul. That idea is chilling in and of itself, and this book finds Sabrina reflecting on her decisions; at sixteen, she’s now regretting aligning herself with the Night instead of the Light, which will then ostracize her from the aunts raising her from childhood.
Aguirre-Sacasa immediately takes Harvey out, with the help of Hack’s amazing artwork. There’s a moment in this issue where Aguirre-Sacasa carves out a backstory for Harvey, or at least a memory from his past. So far, we’ve seen little of the character’s personality, and this is a great moment for Chilling Adventures – not only does it share event similarities, it also sets up a later development in the plot that will explain Harvey’s disappearance. This is where Aguirre-Sacasa’s work really shines, both in Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures; he’s interested in the minute details of these characters, and he’s bringing them vital differences from their comedy counterparts.
Hack gets some much-needed room for his creepy artwork, too, with a few different large panels of monstrous witch transformations. His old-school paint and the sketchy character designs work very well for these creatures, because they give them just enough mystery and fogginess to get around the problems some stories have when they explicitly divulge the monster. It’s great to see Hack get some room for these monsters, and it makes Chilling Adventures #4 even more enjoyable.
After Harvey dies, Aguirre-Sacasa slows things down a bit. Sabrina grieves, upset at her aunts because they didn’t stop the other witches; she wishes she never joined the coven. This is a tough segment to get right, because grieving – while understandably realistic – doesn’t often amount to exciting moments. While this is also true in Chilling Adventures #4, Aguirre-Sacasa takes some time to explore a different area of interest – namely, a search for Harvey that calls some of the students from Riverdale over, a cross-over that brings Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica into the picture once more. It’s a small and somewhat insignificant interlude, but one that sells the verisimilitude of Aguirre-Sacasa’s universe.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #4 ends with the inevitable, something that’s been coming ever since Madam Satan was introduced. Sabrina turns to her, thinking she’s Ms. Porter, not just because she’s grieving the loss of Harvey and wants him back; more than that, it’s because – right after she finds Harvey dead – she gets a glimpse of what life could have been like had she not pledged her soul to the Devil. This glimmer of a bright future is what encourages her to accept Madam Satan’s help, and it’s a devilish design from Aguirre-Sacasa that implies darkness coming ahead.
While Chilling Adventures #4 isn’t the strongest issue of the series to date, it is an emotional journey that sets in motion a change for Sabrina. Now, she’s not just being guided by her aunts into a life of witchery. She’s forging her own views on good and evil, and with Harvey gone, she’s bound to become a different person. It’s an exciting change for the series, one that should spark even more haunting moments to come when Harvey rises from the dead.