By Frank Tieri, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Joe Eisma, Matt Herms, Jack Morelli, and Bob Smith
The idea behind the titles under Archie’s Madhouse banner is a great one: take characters that are symbolic of classic Americana and twist them through classic horror stories. Jughead: The Hunger had the brilliant idea of taking a character that ate a little too much and transform him into a werewolf, introducing its world in a one-shot earlier this year. With the second issue of its ongoing series done, it still delivers those terror-filled moments, albeit with some problems concerning pacing and the direction going forward.
Where The Hunger shines is its dedication to its premise and having fun while still being scary. Its initial scene with Reggie and a newly transformed Veronica is enjoyable slasher fare. There are even some little touches that we’ve seen from other stories that enhance it. Veronica for instance, acts and dresses as if she’s given in to the id of her brain, a subtle side effect of her rebirth. She even wears heart-shaped glasses referencing the show Riverdale and one of its characters, the manipulative Ms. Grundy. When the story shifts to Jughead, Tieri does a good job portraying how close to the edge he is, in particular an instant when he hears a silent alarm. Archie is also given some much needed development as he demonstrates how he could be a little useful in fighting off creatures of the night.
Unfortunately, the series at this point does suffer from having a lot of open plot threads. Between Reggie, establishing an underground network of werewolf hunters, a circus mob, and a new development at the end of the issue, it has a fair amount on its plate. Meanwhile, Jughead seems to get lost in the shuffle and we only see a little bit of him, making it hard to connect with him in his own series. The Hunger also seems to be shifting direction in how Jughead deals with his transformations which personally takes away from the fear-inducing core of the book. Letting this revelation get introduced by a tertiary character is a nice reference to Archie Comics but in terms of this story, it feels a little shoehorned in.
The Kennedys and Eisma share art duties on this issue and while there are differences in their work, they flow pretty well. They don’t pull punches when it comes to gore or the grotesque nature of the werewolf transformations, capturing the aesthetic of B-horror movies. Herms’s colors tie in primarily with Francesco Francavilla’s work in Afterlife with Archie and gives it a unified style. A day shown with orange hues and a night dominated by blood red skies are the finishing touches in producing a noticeably creepy atmosphere.
Jughead: The Hunger #2 maintains the tone that the series has laid out, continuing its journey through a twisted version of the world inhabited by Archie characters. It’s still a great concept that when executed well, is pretty fun. This issue begins to spread its plot lines a little thin to the detriment of its premise, but still holds some good moments for those wanting to howl at the moon.