One of Riverdale’s most beloved characters makes her new-school Archie debut. Here’s hoping she doesn’t trigger the zombie apocalypse… Your Major Spoilers review of Jughead #9 awaits!
Previously in Jughead: “Jughead and his best pal Archie had a rough summer. Jughead just wanted to spend some time with his buddy, but Archie couldn’t get his mind off girls. Archie’s girl-crazy ways sent the two brosephs into a fight that landed them lost in the woods, almost attacked by a bear, targeted by a weird old Mantle family member and eventually saved by Mr. Weatherbee… AKA NOT Jughead’s idea of a good time. How could Archie think about girls that often? I mean, there are so many other things to think about.
I bet you’re expecting me to say something about burgers, right? Well, I’m not. You think you’ve got ol’ Jughead figured out but it turns out you only associate the superficial aspects of his personality with him. You don’t know the REAL Jughead. Just your perception of Jughead.
What I was going to say was: Why doesn’t he think of other things — like burritos? Jughead likes burritos too, you know.”
THE ‘NO MORE CHIP’ PROBLEM
I admit it: I was worried about what would happen to Jug without Zdarsky writing the book. I know, I know, I should have more faith, especially with Archie Comics being so successful in telling unique, entertaining stories. This issue opens with an extended rant in the ‘Previously’ section, leading directly into a lovely visual gag involving Jughead’s art project. Ryan North grabs the metaphorical bull by the pointy felt crown and leaps straight into Jughead’s life, transitioning from school (“Well, that was certainly a government-mandated way to spend a period”) to an excursion to Pop Tate’s burger joint, where we see the complex interaction of the five main Riverdale characters, including the complex Reggie-Ronnie-Betty-Archie ziggurat of teenage adoration and revulsion…
Oh, and Jughead suddenly has his first crush, thanks to Pops hiring a woman to wear a burger costume to promote the Chock’lit Shoppe.
THIS IS REALLY FUNNY STUFF
Derek Charm’s art is top-notch stuff, too, balancing realism with the classic Archie House Style, and somehow making Jughead look like he always has, only also like a human being. (It’s a more problematic and impressive achievement than that sentence makes it sound.) A sequence featuring our Fab Five trying to define love to one another at lunch is full of character work and facial expression, making each “actor” perfectly suited to their dialogue. Speaking of the dialogue, Ryan North writes a heck of a story, managing to be genuinely funny while exploring Jughead’s confusion at his newfound feelings. The progression of story as Jughead sloooowly becomes friends with his ‘Burger Lady’ is really well-done, and the final page reveal of the woman inside the costume is striking enough to almost make you forget that the cover spoiled it as a dramatic reveal. Best of all are North’s margin-note asides adding additional jokes, meta-commentary and personality to the book, proving that Jughead is not dependent on Chip (though he will be missed.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: NOT A PROBLEM AT ALL
In short? Yes, I shoulda had more faith. Jughead #9 examines our intrepid weirdo hero in a while new world of maybe-romance, without betraying the core of the decades-old character, with humor, intelligence and truly excellent art, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. The only thing keeping this from being a perfect score is the strange dichotomy between a story that seems to want to make Sabrina a big reveal and a cover that wants to trumpet her appearance, which could have been a much larger problem in a less-engaging story…