"Jughead: The Hunger #4" 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 March 7th, 2018
The Cooper family has been hunting werewolves for some time, including the Jones clan. Jughead: The Hunger #4 gives us a look at Elena Cooper, the current head of this group. Elena was only introduced in the last issue, but she made quite an impression, particularly when she pulled back her hair to reveal a horrifying scar on her face. Although she's new to this story, she's quickly become a very important part.
Flashbacks in comics can be difficult, especially in a situation like this where it's solely focused on a brand new character. Writer Frank Tieri keeps it interesting, as this issue is bookended by scenes in the present day as Elena reacts to the news that Betty and Archie failed to kill Bingo and Jughead Jones. It is clear in her introduction that Elena is a badass, but this chapter gives you some definitive proof.
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When we first see her, Elena is viciously and efficiently killing a pack of wolves. This is how she trains. Wolves are the next best thing to lycanthrope. This is a horrific scene as Elena literally slices and dices these poor creatures. Limbs and blood are sent every which way. She finishes the battle by beheading one and then casually holds onto it as someone comes in to speak to her. Artist Pat & Tim Kennedy bring this ruthless scene to life and colorist Matt Herms makes the images pop off the page with the blood splatter that practically drenches the book.
The violence is only just beginning as the flashback kicks off and we bear witness to a brutal bar fight between the Serpents and the Cooper family. There's a page of utter madness as a pack of werewolves fight tooth and claw against a would-be militia armed with guns and knives. Casualties add up for both sides. This image is immediately followed by a shot of the exterior, which looks totally calm. If you were walking by, you would have no idea of the chaos going on inside.
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What makes Elena's story stand out is her personal connection to the Jones clan. There's a Romeo & Juliet vibe that becomes even more tragic. It also underlines the hard edges that make up Elena and reveals how she got the scar on her face. Everything about this scene just adds up to instantly elevate this character from a bit player to a major factor in Jughead: The Hunger.
The issue ends with a scene of even more bloodshed and violence. Somehow this comic just keeps upping the ante. Artist Joe Eisma creates a scene of gory carnage to close out this chapter and further expand this world of monsters and those who hunt them.
Jughead: The Hunger takes steps here to grow the mythos far beyond a simple gag. This could have been a cheesy book playing with the idea that one of the beloved characters from Riverdale is a werewolf. Instead, it's an incredibly strong horror series that is only getting better with some of the most terrifying werewolves captured on paper. So...when can we get that TV show? Are you listening, CW?