REVIEW: JUGHEAD THE HUNGER (ONE-SHOT)
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Michael Walsh
Publisher: Archie Comics
The dark and twisted minds at Archie Horror are at it again, hacking and slashing their way through the Archieverse, and leaving bloody mayhem in their wake. This time it’s not zombies or witches or alien predators (oh my!) stalking the streets of Riverdale, it’s werewolves. Or to be more precise, a single werewolf, known as the “Riverdale Ripper”. The setup for this creepy little one-shot is very similar to the 1994 Jack Nicholson thriller, “Wolf”. A normal guy suddenly finds himself in possession of animalistic appetites and abilities, with disastrous results.
One thing that annoys me slightly about the Archie horror imprint is its tendency to start with small stakes in terms of character deaths. I’m a fan of “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones”, so I know all about how it’s not wise to get too attached to characters in scary stories. So killing Pop and Miss Grundy and Ethel seems a bit underwhelming. These are characters that everyone knows in Riverdale, but their deaths don’t really shake anything up that much.
Alternatively, when the folks at Dark Horse took the Archie kids out for a spin in their “Predator” miniseries, heads (and spines!) rolled in the first issue, the pages were soaked in blood, and nobody was safe - not even America’s favorite carrot-top teen. Although this book starts with a bloody murder, the slow-mo drop of Miss Grundy’s pearl necklace reminded me uncomfortably of a cross between Aunt May and Martha Wayne. On top of that, the color was a bit muted for my taste. And yes, I know that werewolves only do their dirty deeds at night, but full moons and streetlights can certainly be used to properly illuminate the necessary gore.
In fact, Michael Walsh’s art reminded me perhaps just a bit too much of the iconic work of Francesco Francavilla in the “Afterlife with Archie” series. Jughead is angular and haunted, and the color palette chosen by Walsh and Dee Cunniffe seems a bit derivative as well. The cool, muted, washed-out tones could even be described as “Mignola-esque”. And all of that is neat, if you like that sort of thing. My preference tends to run more to the lurid and vivid, though. Give me bright, almost cartoonish colors and buckets of blood and I’m a happy girlie!
That being said, I did enjoy this story, and thought it was a terrific jumping-off point for another creepy elseworld horror story using some of my favorite characters in fiction. I’ve always been a fan of Jughead as the “weird kid” in Riverdale, and I extra-super enjoy him as the focal point of any horrific exposure of Archie Comics’ soft, creepy underbelly. It would certainly not break my heart to see more of Jughead on the run, with a Buffy-esque Betty Cooper hot on his heels.