God of Comics – Jughead: The Hunger #2

God of Comics – Jughead: The Hunger #2

Jughead: The Hunger #2 (Archie Comics)

I’ve mentioned before that everyone has Archie comics somewhere. Growing up, they were unavoidable – even people that didn’t like comics had them. Even people that didn’t like comics had them. They percolated through houses and minds alike, infesting the subconscious of the world.

And this is Archie’s big strength: the characters are such a part of everyone’s internal landscape that you recognize them instantly. You know them by type, the Archie, the Reggie, the Veronica, the Betty, the Dilton, whatever. You know them and you can spot them at any time, in any genre.

Lately, Archie Comics has started banking on that, taking their iconic characters and putting them in strange circumstances. The classic line is still there and still exists, but Archie Comics is now experimenting with action and horror using the blueprint left behind from their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics and the criminally underrated Bayou Billy.

It started with the excellent Afterlife with Archie, veered into the weirdness of Archie vs. Predator, and most recently appeared in this comic, where Jughead is a werewolf from a family of werewolves and Betty comes from a line of werewolf-hunters.

Did I mention this is an on-going series?

Jughead’s first wolf-out didn’t go well and ended up with a lot of dead people. Dilton, Ethel, Grundy, a lot of classic characters became werewolf chow in grisly fashion. Jugs feels pretty bad about the whole thing and ran the hell away with his dog, even going so far as to join the circus in order to get away.

Betty, meanwhile, grabbed a surviving Archie and has revealed the truth of both her parentage and that of Jughead. She’s bringing Archie along because she loves him and because he’s the main character, so he’s not totally useless. They ditched Veronica in Riverdale and Betty has been in contact with her extended family, all of whom are weird, terrifying, or both.

Worse, Jughead’s big massacre also ended with Reggie Mantle being infected with Lycanthropy, and he’s gone and turned Veronica and they’re definitely up to no good. Reggie is much more comfortable being the villain than the hero, and raised stakes just means more of a chance to be an awful human being. Witness his first victim: Mr. Weatherbee.

Why? Because Reggie has a problem with any kind of authority and he’s a petty git.

Frank Tieri is killing it (and a whole whack of the classic Archie crew) on this title, which feels like Riverdale mingled with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural. It’s weird and tragic and sometimes funny, but it never forgets its roots or the depth of its characters. Likewise, the art of Tim and Pat Kennedy adds shade and shadow but still leave the impression that one is reading an Archie comic.

In short? This is surprisingly excellent and well worth picking up.

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