I’m gonna keep this review short because... well, because it’s a Jughead book, and let’s be honest everyone, there’s not much you can consistently say about a Jughead book, even one boasting a rockstar creative team. After all, the whole idea of this character comes from a place of lazy, stupid, sophomoric fun, and in that, if nothing else, Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson do a fine job in Jughead #2. This issue sees Mr. Jones again at loggerheads with the new, overly-strict teaching staff at Riverdale High, this time in the form of physical education tsar, Coach Eng. Thrown into detention after a run-in with... running, Jughead quickly drifts off and, in his dreams, goes on a time travel adventure with one of Archie’s descendants to save the future from one of Reggie’s, returning just in time to finagle his way past an obstacle course and be framed for bringing a deadly weapon to school. Yup, that happens!
And on the whole, Jughead #2 was absolutely fine. Look, this is by no means a bad comic book, with Erica Henderson turning a largely inoffensive visual spin on the Archie-verse (though her Betty still looks too much like Squirrel Girl for my personal liking), while Chip Zdarsky clearly gets the main character right in his lazy, idiot savant charm. The bit with the Time Police, while a bit choppy, was decent enough, and the overall story of Juggy vs. “The Man” is an interesting dynamic.
The problem is that, as with most Archie Comics properties, I’m already bored. I was hoping the names associated with this reboot would have combined to hold my attention longer than usual with this publisher’s offerings, but given my drop off from even the main Waid/Staples title, I should probably just face facts and admit that I’ll never be an Archie guy, at least not outside of its more experimental and bat-shit crazy titles, like Afterlife or Vs. Predator.
As I said in my review of issue one, neither Zdarsky nor Henderson have blown me away with their previous projects, but that’s obviously not to say they don’t have a firm and loyal following; and it is they who are the true target demographic for this book. I’m certain that regular readers and fans of both Howard the Duck and The Unbearable Squirrel Girl will love this series, but I’m not sure who else is going to dig this take. It seems slightly too complicated for kids, and way too simple for adults, leaving it in a weird limbo of sorts that, again, seems to cater to one particular audience. That’s fine, obviously, but I am not one of them.
With a sense of humor that I felt largely didn’t pay off and a visual direction that feels too sparse and samey (yet weirdly inconsistent in quality), not to mention a palette that felt too heavy in some places -- particularly Jughead’s dream --there is nothing really bad about Jughead #2, but also nothing that makes me want to stick around for more.
Jughead #2 Writer: Chip Zdarsky Artist: Erica Henderson Letterer: Jack Morelli Publisher: Archie Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 11/18/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital