There’s been a lull in the Archie Horror universe due to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s busy schedule (working on the new hit CW show Riverdale is probably a full-time gig in itself) but writer Frank Tieri and artist Michael Walsh are here to make the wait for new Afterlife with Archie/Chilling Adventures of Sabrina issues a bit more bearable. Jughead: The Hunger is a new one-shot book set within an Archie Horror universe unlike either of the two aforementioned series; this one explains Jughead’s insatiable hunger as a form of lycanthropy. Put simply, Jughead is a werewolf, and he’s both the star and antagonist in this book.
It’s difficult to write a truly compelling werewolf story, mostly because the essence of that plot boils down to one thing: the victim is almost always either unaware or unable to stop the spread of death around him, and the only thing he can do is chain himself up and hope he doesn’t hurt anyone else. Tieri takes this plotline about sympathetic werewolves and incorporates Riverdale, opting to show a couple of familiar faces as they’re horrifically mauled by a werewolf stalking the streets at night. This werewolf is Jughead, who only knows what he’s doing after he wakes up covered in blood and realizes that he has Dilton’s severed arm on the floor next to him.
Tieri isn’t hoping to craft an entirely new werewolf storyline, but in truth it’s a little disappointing to see Jughead: The Hunger work through the tropes so sequentially. It’s not a bad thing for Tieri to want to craft an homage to the classics, but at the same time the first few pages of the book don’t necessarily seem like a horror comic set in the Archie Universe – they feel more like a werewolf story shoved into Riverdale. It doesn’t have the nostalgia or references that Afterlife with Archie has, but it also has a lot less time to get those setpieces crafted.
With that said, Tieri moves forward in a thrilling way in the book’s back half, introducing Betty as Riverdale’s equivalent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, complete with ponytail and midriff-flaunting attire. Jughead: The Hunger‘s werewolf storyline is a bit cliche, but this ode to media outside the Archie canon feels on-point, especially since that means putting Jughead and Betty’s platonic friendship in danger.
Better than Tieri’s writing, though, is Walsh’s artwork and color scheme, which manages to evoke a similar style to Robert Hack’s classic comic throwbacks in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina while maintaining Afterlife with Archie‘s iconic color scheme. The art is beautiful and bold, and it doesn’t skimp on the gore either – even if Jughead: The Hunger suffers from generic werewolf plotting, its artwork manages to enliven the whole release.
While Jughead: The Hunger doesn’t have the immediate appeal of the long-running Archie Horror comics – and it was probably a good idea to keep this limited to a one-shot – it’s a nice reminder that Archie Comics is still putting out some top-of-the-line product. Tieri’s plot suffers from an inability to find the perfect balance between an Archie story and a horror tale, but it’s saved by some amazing artwork from Walsh. This is still a recommended issue to bridge readers along until Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #7 hits shelves (which shouldn’t be long if this book’s ads are any indication!), and definitely worth a pickup at the price of only $4.99 for 48 pages.