Story By: Chip Zdarsky
Art By: Erica Henderson
Lettering By: Jack Morelli
Growing up in the multifaceted, media-crazed, millennial society that I did, I was never privy to Archie Comics as a brand. I remember as a child my parents giving me so called kid-friendly comic strips featuring Archie, Betty, Veronica and of course Jughead, but I can legitimately say that I was not a fan. It's not that I didn't like the comic strips that "the old folks" passed down to me, I was more interested in the likes of the X-Men or Power Rangers. Young folks with powers who kicked ass! Yeah! I never appreciated Archie Comics until just recently, and with Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson's Jughead #1, my new found appreciation for these comics, new and old, continues to grow.
Our story is fairly simple as Archie's best pal and slacker supreme, Jughead Jones, is introduced to readers through a series of panels that depict a typical day in the life of this maniacal food lover. Much like current teens, Jughead is glued to his television set, more specifically his RPG about dragon slaying. From this first panel alone, we've already gotten ample information to show us what kind of person Jughead is. Several of your favorite characters make their appearance as we acclimate ourselves to the world of Jughead's Riverdale. We see Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Principal Weatherbee, even Hot Dog.
And poor Principal Weatherbee. The guy gets the boot from his position only to be replaced by the insidious sounding Principal Stranger. (Yes, that's his name). Zdarsky shows the more cynical side of Jughead when Betty scoffs at him about petitioning for a fundraiser, to which he retorts by calling himself a "realist." Yet, in spite of himself, when newly appointed Principal Stranger exchanges the Riverdale High's gourmet cafeteria food for stool--I mean gruel, Jughead has an atomic meltdown. The rest of the issue involves Jughead learning (for the first time perhaps?) that people can make their own food. He learns, and perfects the culinary art of making hamburgers, which ironically comes full circle back to Betty's fundraiser by the end of the issue.
Zdarsky, already a well established cartoonist, brings his A-game here, giving us hysterical moments throughout the book. He clearly is fan of ol' Jughead, and pairing him with the delightful art of Erica Henderson is another win for Archie Comics. She brings a charming cartoony style with a more modern look than classic Archie books. The moments in which she really shines are throughout Jughead's bizarre dream sequence dubbed "Game of Jones" in which he must find and defeat a dragon with the power to give infinite amounts of hamburgers. All one needs to do in order to gain access is tell the dragon just how much they enjoy hamburgers. The dragon isn't all that scary looking, again thanks to Henderson's cartoonish style. It's a fun scene and it begs the question of whether we'll see Jughead in dreamland again. I will say that Jughead's art and tone are completely different from the work that Mark Waid and Fiona Staples are bringing to their Archie book, which it should be. Jughead is a completely wacked out character; his book should feel much less like a rom-com, and more like a Farrelly Bros. movie.
Speaking of Waid and Staples' Archie, Zdarsky and Henderson make sure to establish that this story does in fact take place in the same "Archieverse" as its sister title. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Certainly this story has the merit to stand on its own, to be a separate entity from Archie, but characters do mention that the Lodges just moved into Riverdale, with an editors note from Chip himself making use of modern day acronyms. There are some inconsistencies though, as Archie and Betty seem to be great pals with no mention of the haunting "Lipstick Incident." It would be nice to have a clearer indication of the timeline in which these things take place. But now I'm sounding like a Marvel or DC continuity fiend who gets angry over which Superman died on which Earth, and let's face it, this is an Archie Comics book folks. We're here to have FUN!
Despite a few (minor) issues with the book the "All New" edition of Jughead has started out quite promising. And just like the other "All New" title, the creative team gives us a classic strip, this one from 1949's first Jughead solo book. Now that book is something else entirely. If that's the kind of story Zdarsky and Henderson mean to pay homage to then I am 100% on board. Overall I really liked the book. The plot is engaging, yet bonkers. The art is modern with the moments of cartoon humor, that made me LOL and this reviewer has now officially become a fan of Archie Comics.