By Dustin Cabeal
Fear not, if you missed the one-shot issue that leads to this ongoing series, you don’t need to track it down in order to enjoy this issue. I mean, you can still track it down, but it’s not required reading at this point. In fact, this issue pretty much spoils the one-shot.
The gist is that Jughead is a goddamn werewolf! Sorry, he’s just a werewolf, I don’t know where that outrage came from. As he narrates his new life at the circus, we learn that he comes from a long line of werewolves and that Betty Cooper comes from a long line of monster killers. After Jugheads section of the story, we catch up with Betty and Archie. Archie is Archie for the most part, but Betty is annoying as fuck. She yells continuously and then when her stereotypical McGuffin cousin shows up and lays Archie on the ground; she becomes a different kind of annoying. I hope that they become more relevant to the story and break the “monster hunter” mold because it is the weakest part of the story.
Jughead wakes up after this with a dead body nearby and a lot of questions of how he got there seeing how he stole some chains and chained himself up before changing. There’s more to the story, and if you want to hear what it is, then you should listen to this week’s Comic Bastards Podcast. Let’s just say that I liked it, and hopefully, they go the route of that 80s werewolf show on TV. I don’t fucking remember what it was called, but that shit was awesome when I was a kid, which means it probably sucks now.
The writing is solid. Other than Betty and Archie’s spot of dullness, the rest has a great pace and develops the world wonderfully. It’s familiar, but new which is essential with stories like this. Archie Comics has found a knack for making alternative world comics like Jughead: The Hunger. The reason it works is the same reason it works for DC Comics, in that it plays off the collective knowledge and characteristics of the characters.
The artwork is a wonderful fit for the story. It’s gruesome when needed, the werewolves look great, but the rest of the characters are recognizable. The art could have easily made this look like a throwback 60s horror comic (which is something DC attempts this week and fails at), but instead, it keeps it modern. The linework is clean, the shadows aren’t too overpowering, and it’s very detailed. The coloring keeps a similar look throughout the comic, much in the way that Dave Stewart’s coloring is on the Mignolaverse.
This is an entertaining first issue that has a lot of promise to it. The only thing that can possibly sink it is an erratic release schedule which has been the downfall to all of the other Archie horror themed comics, though this one does have a different imprint banner. Time will tell, but I’m definitely curious about this series and will be looking forward to reading more.
Jughead: The Hunger #1