JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #1 by Frank Tieri, Pat Kennedy, and Tim Kennedy
JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #1 is an intense start to a chilling new series. The art is creepy, the stakes are high, and nobody in Riverdale is safe.
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Archie comics are no stranger to horror. AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA are filled with a healthy dose of terror. Now, based on the one-shot of the same name that came out in March, JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #1 by Frank Tieri, Pat Kennedy, and Tim Kennedy will explore Jughead Jones’ fight to keep his inner werewolf at bay. After Betty and Archie believe they’ve found a cure for Jughead’s werewolf tendencies, Jughead flees Riverdale to keep his friends safe. Now working at a circus, Jughead believes the change in scenery is for the better. He meets a possible new friend, cleans animal cages, and believes that the distance will keep him from hurting anyone else. But little does he know, the beast within is much too powerful to contain. And with Betty and Archie searching for him, his perfect hiding spot might not last for long.

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More than Cheeseburgers

Though JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER is a horror comic, it’s not all gore and terror. Tieri’s choice of a circus setting is an interesting component that lifts the tension, though circuses in horror usually have their own creep factor. Jughead has a connection with the animals, especially the lions. They can see right through him in ways that a human never could. The performers and staff also fit with the misfit stereotype, so Jughead is more at ease. Think of AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW without the homicidal clowns.

But when the true horror comes, it goes off with a bang. Archie Comics has been successful in using its traditionally light-hearted franchise to give readers the chills. So, because these characters are so iconic, there’s more at stake. We know the Riverdale residents, so their demise is something we want to avoid at all costs. This is what makes the other titles like AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE so nerve-wrenching yet engaging. And the art certainly assists with the fear factor as well.

Image courtesy of Archie Comics.

Pat and Tim Kennedy’s werewolves are vicious and equally horrifying with their huge razor-sharp teeth. Their complete lack of humanity shows in their glowing eyes. We know Jughead as an easy-going, burger-loving guy, so seeing him as a cold-blooded killer is certainly unsettling. The inevitability of his curse also ramps up the tension because nobody is safe, not even his best friends. It will be interesting to see if Jughead ever forms sentience in his werewolf form or if his family tree dooms him forever.

Leaning on Horror Tropes

Over time, the horror genre has developed many tropes. Some are interesting and fun, while others are insidious even outside of the story. They imply something greater about how we view certain people in society, perhaps in a degrading way. JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER dips into a more troubling trope, which is violence towards women. Of course, horror is violent towards everyone, but violence towards women often carries sexual undertones.

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While Jughead is working, he meets a girl about his age named Abbey. Abbey is immediately flirtatious towards Jughead and she’s clearly beautiful. The red flags went up for me. Later, after Jughead transforms, he can’t recall his actions from the night before. He then sees Abbey’s mutilated body. This is a horror comic, so we expect to see some carnage. But Abbey’s body, even in death, is a sexualized object.

Image courtesy of Archie Comics.

Yes, Jughead attacks Reggie in the comic as well, but he comes back as a werewolf. And his suffering isn’t a spectacle. Later, when werewolf Reggie visits Veronica, she too is the beautiful girl in distress. Betty is the only major female character, as of now, that has the ability to keep herself safe. She’s a werewolf hunter with experience on her side as well as weapons. Tieri’s characterization is interesting because Betty is usually the girl-next-door and the least intimidating of the women in Archie Comics. Her skills and fearlessness may be a positive in the comic, but hopefully we’ll see less gender-based violence in upcoming issues.

Deviating from Style Norms

Because the comic revolves around horror and chaos, it wouldn’t work too well to use the classic Archie Comics style. The palette in JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER is similar to AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE. The highly saturated reds and oranges contrast with somber, cool tones. The balance is perfect and gives the comic an overall spooky feeling without going over the top. Often, the setting looks like it’s in another dimension. The sky is blood orange or yellow, like a haze over the town and surrounding areas.

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The panels also tend to look scrambled. They don’t fit into the customary left to right pattern. Images merge into one another, crossing over borders that only serve as suggestions. The different layouts on each page make the reading experience a bit more chaotic. It lines up with the overall intensity of the plot. Some pages are a mix of past and present as well, showing Polaroid photos and documents. All these details mean you can read JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #1 multiple times and probably find something new. One wonders what possible clues lie in the bits you might have missed the first time around.

That being said, I’d like to see more of this originality in the plot itself. As of now, it doesn’t stick out as much from your regular werewolf story, aside from the characters being so iconic. It’ll be interesting to see how the comic team will make JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER stick out from the crowd.

Final Thoughts on JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #1

Overall, JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #1 is enjoyable and perfect for the Halloween season. The art is chilling, the colors pop off the page, and we jump right into the conflict. Even if you haven’t read the one-shot, the comic is easy to follow and explains everything directly or through clear context clues.

jughead: the hunger
Image courtesy of Archie Comics

I’m most excited to see who else will join Betty and Archie in their werewolf-hunting crusade. While I’d definitely recommend this comic to anyone who loves the Archie Comics, be aware that it follows a pretty cookie-cutter horror plot. In future issues, I look forward to seeing how they deviate from the usual conventions of horror to create a more nuanced story. But, hey, it’s Halloween season, so a little mindless horror sounds fun, too.

Want to see for yourself? Make sure to pick up JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER #1 out October 25 or pre-order it here today!

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