Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review - Jughead: The Hunger #1 (@ArchieComics)



The concept of an unknown killer prowling the streets at night and being a mild-mannered citizen by day certainly isn't new. Just like knowing Jughead likes to eat A LOT isn't entirely new. Knowing that Jughead might be a combination of both of the above statements might be news though, but it's pretty fun to read about in Jughead: The Hunger #1 from Archie Comics. The issue is written by Frank Tieri, illustrated by Michael Walsh, colored by Walsh and Dee Cunniffe and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Jughead Jones has always had an insatiable appetite... but what if his hunger came from a sinister place? When a murderous menace is on the prowl, taking the lives of some of the most well-known and esteemed inhabitants of Riverdale, Jughead and his family's dark legacy comes to light.

What Tieri does exceptionally well in Jughead: The Hunger #1 is leverage Jughead's reputation as someone always eating into something more sinister. The issue bounces back and forth between keeping the killings at night somewhat off-camera, but that doesn't stop Tieri from being able to infuse a sense of dread throughout the book. Tieri also gives other characters in the universe interesting roles that serve to help and/or hinder Jughead with his problems. The dialogue bears this out well, tapping into the established relationships between the characters and making the whole thing a bit more personal while also adding some moments of levity. The only downside to the issue is that Tieri sort of rushes through things, which owes to the fact that it's a one-shot and not a miniseries.

Walsh does a fantastic job augmenting the horror with some visceral artwork that reinforces the notion of a killer roaming the streets of Riverdale at night. All of the characters are stylized by jagged lines that give their figures a presence that cuts against the backdrops. Like Tieri's approach, Walsh gives the book a greater sense of terror by keeping a lot of the transformations off-panel, allowing the reader to use their imagination for the worst. And the way Walsh renders the monster is pretty terrifying as well in that he showcases the transformation from a person into a beast with some elongated limbs and contortions in between for good measure. The colors by Walsh and Cunniffe are largely red and black to reinforce the notion that a bloodthirsty beast is hunting at night.

Jughead: The Hunger #1 is a solid one-shot that actually fits quite well within the greater, relaunched Archie universe. Jughead has always been something of a mysterious character and relying on that vague backstory makes for some interesting character developments here. Tieri's grasp of the characters is phenomenal and allows him to stretch their roles in ways that are new but not entirely unbelievable. Walsh's artwork is eerie in its presentation and the harsh lines give the book a ferocious presentation. Jughead: The Hunger #1 can't be recommended enough as it takes familiar characters and places them in extremely mature and unfamiliar territory.

Jughead: The Hunger #1 is available now.

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