Written by Ryan North
Art by Derek Charm and Jack Morelli
Published by Archie Comics
Release Date: September 7, 2016
When Jughead meets the perfect burger… I mean girl… questions abound and confusion sets in, during the latest issue of Jughead.
For those of read North’s other works, like The Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl, is clear that Ryan North’s style is just is consistent. Margin jokes, computer and mathematics references, and even “five dollar words” in his closing essay can be found in this issue. And for fans of North’s work it is both a comforting blanket as well as slightly disappointing to see the same old “hat tricks.” Yet, there is no doubt the side commentary creates an abundance of giggles. Plus nothing beats having the current writer telling you the previous writer was ripping you off.
Derek Charm’s style is deceptively simplistic. The artist’s animation comic roots, with works at IDW like the Powerpuff Girls and Donald Duck, lend a clean familiarity to the Archie Comic universe. Do not let that fool you. There are layers of detailed shadowing, pops of monochromatic color for emphasis and textured layovers that help to change the mood at any instant. There a key choices in how the layout is played around with to draw the reader into Jughead’s fantasy world or transition of time. Gone are the fantasy sequences, creating separate stories, of the previous volume of Jughead. Instead we are given a direct line into several of the character’s imaginations. The passage of time is marked off with a clever flying page calendar style layout that looks great with a two page spread. Color in the background is used to separate Jughead’s fantasy world from reality. Considering how subtle the transition is between the two, it was a nice background tip that helps your brain flow through the story without thinking about it.
Archie Comics are known for being a mass of talking heads, while action continues to go on. This can sometimes make lettering crammed into the page. However, Jack Morelli’s lettering works wonderfully with the story. Instead of fighting for space, the art and the lettering are spaced in a great manner. In some areas the art and lettering overlap, creating a seamless blend between Charm and Morelli’s work. Color and font choices are changed up between text messages and spoken dialogue. It helps you create a full picture without thinking about lettering or being distracted by it.
The big thing about this book, is the cover reveal of Sabrina the Teen Age Witch. However, if you are buying this issue just for her, you’ll most likely have to wait a bit. While Sabrina, does have a big role in the issue, it has nothing to do with her magical side. All we see is her interactions with Jughead, and no magic. There are plenty of teasers and promises of what is to come in issue 10, though.
Jughead’s sexuality is treated less like a teenager confused by the morals and pressures of society. Instead, his asexual nature comes more from a fully realized adult perspective. While not exactly the most authentic point of view for someone Jughead’s age, it does create the ideal role model for teens identifying as asexual. The issue focuses on Jughead’s love of eating and freaking out about might-be when it comes to a girl he wants to be around, but not necessarily be around. Meanwhile, North’s dialogue and Charm’s facial expressions, pokes fun at the very perspectives of each stable character in the Archie universe. They are the thing that we always assume characters like Archie, Veronica, Reggie and Betty think about dating and attraction, but are not always so honest when talking. All those things go flying out the window, and in an effort to “help” Jughead, a session of too much information occurs. It is both hilarious and thought provoking.
This issue is full of great one liners, cute references and intentionally-unintentional self reflecting conversations. Those who enjoyed the zany nature that this series has previously provided will not feel left behind. That over the top story telling continues, with a somewhat more grounded story, for now. Who knows what is on the horizon, when Sabrina has a chance to be herself around Jughead, on their official date. Only the next issue will tell, which North liberally rubs in our faces during his back matter essay. It’s quintessential Archie for a new era.
The Verdict: 9.0/10