Friday, October 9, 2015

Jughead Is Back!! // Six Things to Enjoy about JUGHEAD #1!

Remember JUGHEAD #1? It just came out this week!! It's been years since Archie Comics' JUGHEAD comic book got canceled/went on an extended hiatus. We were promised a new series and eventually that happened, as part of the Archie Relaunch!

The "new" Jughead is probably the strongest character in the whole relaunch, IMHO as always. He's quirky and unconventional. He's a loyal friend, but doesn't like to advertise that fact too much. He comes off as a bit of a loner, but he's definitely tapped into the Riverdale social network.

He's a young man who essentially had everything. And then his father lost everything. Which caused Jughead to realize that life isn't fair and that you need to focus on enjoying your little corner of it instead of focusing on all of the stuff that you cannot control that's unfair.

JUGHEAD #1 is written by Chip Zdarsky and features artwork by Erica Henderson (along with lettering by Jack Morelli). Chip seems to be the perfect writer for this updated Jughead. He's a fan of "old" Old School Jughead -- the original Jughead stories filled "with weird science and impossible scenarios" featuring our "lanky hero" who doesn't want trouble, but finds himself targeted by it. My experience with Zdarsky's work is that he's the King of Quirky, which makes him the perfect writer for JUGHEAD.

Then there is the art. Let's get this out of the way. I absolutely love Erica Henderson's artwork. I didn't like it at all when I first learned of Marvel Comics' UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL title, but I've really grown to respect and admire her work. I bring this up because a good chunk of the fandom that I've encountered leading up to now has been complaining about the art. Clarification: most of those complaints were pre-publication and some of those critics have tempered their criticisms since reading the actual book. I just want to acknowledge that elephant and to assure everyone that it'll be okay. (I'll admit though that her rendition of Veronica Lodge really doesn't mess with the Veronica Lodge that we just met over in ARCHIE!)

Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

1. Bye 'Bee!: It seems that Riverdale's School Board has decided to implement some mid-year changes to Riverdale High's leadership, curriculum, and day-to-day functions. Part of that change is getting rid of Mr. Weatherbee! He's being replaced by a tool named Mr. Stanger. But Mr. Stanger assures us that "the changes will be gradual" and are only intended to improve the school experience.

2. Gruel: Jughead wasn't terribly upset about the new principal until he ran across one particular location of non-gradual change: the cafeteria!! The cafeteria food has been replaced by some nasty substitute. Mr. Stanger assures us that it's part of a "clearly defined menu, for optimum health and performance" -- but I think he's just trying to save money by messing with the food budget!

3. Game of Jones: Jughead doesn't take this news well. He immediately begins protesting Riverdale High's new "Food Injustice," but not before passing out and suffering from a "Game of Thrones"-inspired hallucination! My impression is that we can expect these types of digressions on a regular basis in JUGHEAD. For example, next issue will visit the "Time Police!"

4. You Can... Make Food?: Jughead wakes from his dragon-dream and learns that Betty usually just makes her own lunch and brings it from home. His reaction is pretty much the definitive Jughead: "You can... make food?" I really don't think that Jughead had thought about where his meals came from before now. I think he thinks only about the specific things that he wants and that he needs. Anything more is just wasteful learning.

It had never occurred to him before today that there was a Home Economics classroom. And if he'd ever noticed it before, he never bothered to figure out what they do in that classroom. But he now knows and he has a mission: He needs to learn how to make hamburgers! Because this is the other definitive thing about Jughead. He really only thinks about what he needs to know about -- but he's extremely quick about learning things once they become important to him!

5. Chuck Can't Cook: Chuck's description of his pie just cracked me up -- especially when verified by Miss Crouton!

6. The Power of Infinite Burgers!: Jughead's "Game of Jones" adventure helped inspire his response to Riverdale High's new tyranny of Food Injustice. Latching onto Betty's "Save Fox Forest" protest movement, he begins selling hamburgers to the student body -- much to Mr. Stanger's objection! But Jughead found the perfect loophole that allows him to continue with his burger scheme -- for now, at least. I don't see Mr. Stanger rolling over too easily. In fact, I anticipate that Mr. Stanger will be lowering the boom next issue and creating new challenges for a crowned hero!

Definitely pick up this issue. There are tons of little gags here and there, plus there's a back-up story featuring content from the original JUGHEAD #1 back in 1949! How can you beat that??

No comments: