If there’s one thing to regret about Archie Horror, it’s that it hasn’t been kind to Jughead Jones. After everything he went through in Afterlife with Archie, Jughead learns he’s a descendent of werewolves in Jughead: The Hunger #1, and that Betty Cooper’s family are werewolf hunters.
Some quick housekeeping, though: while Jughead: The Hunger is marketed as a brand new series, this is somewhat misleading. For a while I tried to make sense of the “Previously…” paragraph on the title page but it turns out the answer’s pretty straightforward. Last March a Jughead: The Hunger one-shot was released, and while everything you need to know for this series gets covered in a recap, I wish I’d heard about the one-shot earlier. Luckily, you can still buy a copy from the Archie Comics’ store and it’s also part of The Archies and Other Stories collection that came out in September.
Jughead has always been celebrated for his expansive diet, but for someone to make the leap from ‘insatiable lover of burgers,’ to ‘hungry, hungry werewolf,’ takes same thinking out of the box. While I’d rather the series not have messed with Jughead overall, there’s a reason it had to be him who went through this transformation.
After Reggie is attacked in the one-shot, Jughead: The Hunger #1 starts with Reggie being brought to the hospital, where he’s treated by some rather quick to shout doctors (the ER’s a chaotic place but I don’t think yelling, “Somebody get an IV in already!” is an accepted way for doctors and nurses to communicate).
Beeping heart monitors have added pressure to countless TV medical procedures, but it’s not something you expect to see replicated in a silent comic. Jack Morelli’s lettering somehow imitates that beeping, and how it overpowers every other noise in the room. It’s just as anxious to read without sound.
From there the issue jumps forward three weeks, to find Jughead on the run, with Betty and Archie close behind. In a decision that feels outdated, but in a way the comic completely recognizes, the place Jug’s taken refuge is a circus. As he tries to handle being a werewolf by himself, most of his scenes show how unhappy he’s become.
This loneliness comes out beautifully in Francesco Francavilla’s cover for the issue. While the colors immediately insinuate the horror side of the series, when you pay attention to werewolf Jughead’s face on the cover, it’s gentleness that you see. Gentleness doesn’t carry over to artists Pat and Tim Kennedy’s werewolves in the interiors (that’s a promise!), but as a shorthand for how Jughead is still himself, when he’s not near a full moon, Francavilla’s cover reflects the balance the series maintains between emotions and scares.
Horror can be played for laughs, but as much as the series doesn’t lose sight that it’s Jughead behind the monster, it also never downplays how dangerous he can be when turned. The first time we see one of his victims up close, the Kennedys don’t hold back
Where Jughead is still Jughead, Betty has become much harsher since joining the family business and, in light of what she “has” to do (and yes, I believe the quotes are necessary, because how can they kill Jughead?), I guess she has to be. Leave it to Archie, though, to look worse in this situation. Taking it upon himself to apologize to others for her roughness, his ‘sorries’ gets old fast.
Jughead’s trouble coping with his new situation could’ve been Jughead: The Hunger‘s central problem but writer, Frank Tieri, adds a new component at the end to elevate the series’ potential. Along with a cliffhanger to test how far the series is willing to lose people, readers will be antsy for issue two before it comes out in November.
Jughead: The Hunger #1 goes on sale October 25th.
JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #1
BRAND NEW SERIES! Jughead Jones is a werewolf, and Reggie Mantle has fallen victim to Jughead’s monstrous ways. Now Betty Cooper: Werewolf Hunter along with Archie Andrews are hot on the trail of Jughead. For TEEN+ readers.
Script: Frank Tieri
Art: Pat and Tim Kennedy
Inks: Bob Smith and Jim Amash (pg. 11 & 17)
Colors: Matt Herms
Lettering: Jack Morelli
Cover: Francesco Francavilla
Variant Covers: Robert Hack, Michael Walsh
32-page, full color comic