"Jughead: The Hunger #3" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Archie Comics
Written by Frank Tieri
Illustrated by Pat & Tim Kennedy and Joe Eisma
Colored by Matt Herms
2018, 32 Pages, $3.99
Comic released on January 24th, 2018
Jughead learns the ropes of lycanthropy from his cousin, Bingo, as this is apparently something that runs in the family. They only have time for a few lessons before Betty and Archie catch up to them and a new fight begins. It's a rematch that's been brewing since the slaughter at Riverdale. We also meet Betty's aunt, Elena, who seems to lead the family in their werewolf hunting exploits. All this, and a peak at werewolf Reggie's plans, as Jughead: The Hunger continues.
While there's some great action in this issue, it feels like a lot of setup. Writer Frank Tieri continues to expand on the mythos established back in the opening one-shot. He lays the foundation for what could be a never-ending world of monsters. It's like a number of loose ends and questions are taken care of before we can concentrate on the meat of the story.
For example, we can't just hop into Bingo training Jughead. First, we have to get his background as to how he's still alive and how he came to be in the woods to help his cousin. This is a rather elaborate story involving Bingo faking his own death to lose the Coopers that were tracking him. Granted, since we all thought Bingo was dead, we do need some explanation.
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The contrast between the two boys is striking. Bingo is confident, lean, and muscular. Jughead is an awkward wimp in an oversized t-shirt. The differences fade once they turn into werewolves. This issue features the most painful transformation shot to date. There's an image of Jughead in mid-change. His face is half man / half wolf. The fur has filled in on his neck, but not the front of his head just yet, revealing pale skin stretched taut over an elongated jaw. It's so unsettling.
One thing I'm curious about is why Jughead can't seem to speak in his werewolf form. Every other lycanthrope we've encountered in the series to date can speak and knows what it's doing while transformed. Jughead is the exception, as he has little to no memory of what he does while wolfed out. I wonder why that is. Is he special? Some new kind of werewolf?
Colorist Matt Herms makes even the most basic scenes creepy. It's like every page is lit with a blood moon, sending eerie red light down on the characters. When there's a particularly intense scene, the red pops on the page, like you're getting hit with an electric shock.
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Betty and Archie track down the werewolves and end up in a bloody conflict that ends in an emotional shooting. Archie is going along with all this, but at the end of the day, Jughead is still his best friend. There's an internal struggle there as he has to come to grips with the idea he might have to put down his buddy, regardless of the monster he's become.
The Betty / Jughead battle is very cool and it's been brewing for some time, but for my money, I want to see things get back to Riverdale with Reggie. He is the bigger and more interesting threat. Reggie has always been a jerk, but now he's a werewolf, so he's a super strong and very dangerous jerk. He's been building on his plan for revenge for some time and it's only going to get bloodier as time goes on.
There was a time where the biggest problem Jughead Jones had was how he was going to pay for his next cheeseburger. Now he's got a target on his back and there are quite a few people aiming for it. If they all had a chance to talk, at least some of them might put down their guns, but what are the odds of that happening?