Nothing says “Biker Tough Guy” like being called Jughead…  Your Major Spoilers review of Riverdale Presents: The South Side Serpents #1 from Archie Comics awaits!


Writer: David Barnett
Artist: Richard Ortiz
Colorist: Matt Herms
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Editor: Alex Segura and Jamie Lee Rotante
Publisher: Archie Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 27, 2021

Previously in Riverdale Presents: The South Side SerpentsFP Jones is worried for the future of the Southside Serpents.  The biker gang is getting old and finding it hard to attract fresh blood.  But FP has a plan, and it revolves around his son, Jughead.  Hunted by the most fearsome biker gangs in the state, an unwilling Jughead has to step up into the role of leader to guide the Serpents on a perilous journey.  There will be adventure, there will be thrills, there will be chases, and there will be death.


We open with a funeral, as a man named Diesel is put to rest while the rest of his gang, the South Side Serpents, pays their respects.  The group’s leader, FP Jones, returns home to his trailer to find his son Jughead angrily writing something and pointing out that Diesel was an idiot who didn’t deserve a send-off.  Hearing that his son wants to write, FP makes him a deal: Take a bigger role in the activities of their biker gang and FP will put him through college.  The leadership token is a crown that should be familiar to comic fans, and the group sets out for a rally that’s totally not Sturgis, you guys.  Once there, Jughead tries to keep the Serpents on the straight and narrow, but an old enemy steals his crown and frames him for murder, sending the Serpents on the run back to Coney Island…  Errr, Riverdale.  When they finally make it home, Juggie discovers that their enemy beat them there… with fatal consequences for one Serpent.


This issue confused me on a number of levels.  First, the death here doesn’t seem to be reflected in the ‘Riverdale’ TV show, which seems to undermine it as a book aimed at fans of ‘Riverdale.’  The tone of this issue is also very hard to pin down, as it doesn’t seem to be sure whether FP’s biker antics are stupid and regrettable or noble endeavors.  As the issue ends, Jughead has agreed to take leadership of the group while finishing his studies, openly telling his teacher that he’s going to go out and do some gang stuff, which feels like a negative consequence for him.  I generally like this issue’s art, though Ortiz’s work is marred a bit by overproduced coloring that gives everyone a red W.C. Fields nose and makes Toni Topaz’s hair and skin essentially the same shade, which bothers me as well.  Though I have no particular affection for the Riverdale show, I feel like their portrayal of Jughead is superior to what we get here.


All in all, Riverdale Presents: The South Side Serpents #1 is a predictable story that doesn’t really fully examine either the positives or the negatives of Jughead’s brutal new life, with okay art, problematic coloring and a whole lot of moments that just don’t work for me, earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I can’t say for certain that a fan of ‘Riverdale’ will like it more, either, which leaves it out in the cold as a book that I just don’t understand.

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Mostly well-drawn but awfully predictable, tonally off-putting and a little bit unpleasant to read.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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