Written by Frank Tieri
Art by Michael Walsh
Letters by Jack Morelli
Colors by Michael Walsh and Dee Cunniffe
The idyllic, peaceful town of Riverdale has fallen under the tyranny of a brutal killer that the news media has dubbed the "Riverdale Ripper." Four people have fallen victim at the gruesome murderer's hands already: Pops, Ethel, Bingo (Jughead's cousin), and the latest victim, Miss Grundy. In seemingly unrelated news, Jughead Jones hasn't been feeling like himself lately. His senses are heightened, his mood has become erratic, and his hunger is becoming more than he (or his friends) can bear.
Archie Comics has entered into something of a renaissance in terms of the quality of stories put forth in recent years. With the success of Archie: The Married Life, Afterlife with Archie, the Mark Waid Archie series, and the CW hit series Riverdale, it seems things are looking up for everyone's favorite girl-crazy ginger boy-next-door.
With all that being said, Jughead: The Hunger's plot feels starved for depth, scares and exposition. Once Jughead's condition is revealed, the story hits fast forward, speeding through scenes of exposition and Archie (typical every-man that he is) pretty much takes it in stride and goes, "Okay." Story convenience lets him in on it pretty quickly after the reader finds out the truth.
Jughead's lycanthropy isn't really the surprise since one can deduce it fairly simply from the title, his behavior towards Reggie, and the admittedly funny fakeout at the beginning. Personally, I think this story would've been much better as a horror-comedy, like Archie vs Predator. That story blended the typical Archie cartoonishness with the Rated-R gorefest of the Predator series. Plus, it would've made digesting the light-speed pacing a lot easier.
There's also a secret that involves Betty being part of a family of werewolf hunters. This is is never adequately explained, nor is it all that satisfying. It could've just as easily been Veronica or Reggie and nothing would change all that much. Speaking of, the ending leaves it ambiguous as to whether or not Jughead's condition is truly cured or not.
The art style is so reminiscent of Afterlife With Archie that a comparison is almost inevitable. That being said, Michael Walsh's more heavily shaded panels lend themselves perfectly to a fright book of this tone. It's splendid artwork, yet, it's too derivative of a much better book to truly stand out on its own.
In the end Jughead: The Hunger comes off as something that aspires to be a faithful successor to Afterlife With Archie in the same vein of Riverdale Horror tales. However, instead of giving me my fill of bloody fun horror, the final product presented leaves me feeling empty.