Jughead: The Hunger #2
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artists: Pat Kennedy, Tim Kennedy, Joe Eisma
Colorist: Matt Herms
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Publisher: Archie Comics
Review by Frank Lanza
In my humble opinion, the creation of the Archie horror comics was an absolute stroke of genius. The Archie brand has been around for over 70 years, and I believe the digests and comics will be around for 70 more. But, for anyone over the age of 9, the original comics have long since grown stale and redundant. The high school hijinks of the Riverdale gang had been spun ad nauseum, to the point where many comic stores don’t even carry Archie books any longer.
But then in 2013, seemingly out of nowhere, Afterlife with Archie hits the stands, bringing with it a legitimately great horror story that was still true to the original Archie universe. Since its inception the Archie horror-verse has spun off the equally excellent Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and now we have Jughead: The Hunger #2.
Jughead hasn’t exactly received the heroic treatment thus far in the Archie horror comics. His Afterlife incarnation sees him as patient zero for the zombie apocalypse and then the leader of the undead hordes. And here in The Hunger we discover Jugs has become a ravenous werewolf on the run.
[MINOR SPOILER ALERT!]
To catch up the uninitiated, in the previous one-shot and subsequent first issue of the new series Jughead is revealed to be the Riverdale Ripper when he werewolves out and massacres a few of Riverdale’s favorite citizens. Archie and Betty, the latter of whom is revealed to be from a long line of Cooper werewolf hunters, follow Jughead as he flees town and joins the circus, all the while fighting his murderous urges.
[END MINOR SPOILER ALERT!]
For the most part, Jughead: The Hunger #2 is a fast-paced issue that continues the story from the first issue in fine fashion. Jughead is forced to leave the circus following the unfortunate circumstances from the end of last issue. Apparently Jughead didn’t finish the job with Reggie last issue either, as he returns with his own lycanthropic tendencies, recruiting Veronica in the process. We are also introduced to Betty’s cousin Bo, a fellow hunter of the supernatural. They are able to follow Jughead’s trail to the circus where they end up recruiting plenty of sideshow freaks to continue the hunt. The issue ends with a nice twist as Jughead is beginning to learn more about his lineage than he had ever imagined.
Tieri’s writing here is hitting all the right notes, mixing just enough nostalgia and callbacks from Archie history to keep things connected, while ramping up the tone to let you know this isn’t your father’s Archie book. Every character still feels like their traditional counterpart while also becoming something completely new in this story. He even surprised me in a few places with some perfectly gory turns that were a blast to read.
Visually, this book falls right in line with the other Archie horror titles. The pencils from the artistic team are fast and loose, continuing the cartoony tradition of the Archie brand. While the work here isn’t nearly as pulpy as Francavilla’s efforts on Afterlife, it’s still plenty moody when it needs to be. The colors are vibrant and are used with fantastic contrast when the scenes turn gruesome.
Buy it. Despite the success Archie had with the Afterlife series, I don’t feel they’ve over done it by going back to the well with Sabrina and now Jughead: The Hunger #2. Each title feels distinct yet connected to the vast history of Archie titles, and The Hunger is more than holding its own with the other horror titles. It doesn’t try to hard to be gross, scary or mild, but instead finds a perfect medium in each department so far. I’m looking forward to seeing where this story goes!