Archie Comics decided to fill in some of the empty spaces in their Archie Horror line (home of Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) with this one-shot supernatural tale. Here, Jughead Jones suffers from a lycanthropic curse that has long plagued his bloodline. Once he discovers his true nature, his old pal Archie wants to stand by him and offer him help, while another member of their group is not quite so understanding.
And, well, that’s pretty much it. With only 40 pages or so, there’s not a ton of room to tell a story—especially the type so inherently rich with history and legend as this. The whole thing seems sort of rushed, but even worse, it feels sort of empty. As it is told, there’s no real reason for this to even exist aside from the fact that someone thought it sounded cool. And maybe, with a little breathing room, it could have been; instead, it simply feels like the opening chapter in a continuing story that doesn’t continue, and that’s not very fulfilling at all. The folks over at Archie Comics must have felt the same way, as they have recently announced that The Hunger will be given an ongoing series this October, just in time for Halloween. Fingers crossed they can pick up the pieces and really make a go at it.
The script by Frank Tieri was fine, and likely could have been much better if he had more room to work with, or a tighter concept from the start. Michael Walsh’s artwork was good, capturing the familiar essence of the characters without turning them into cartoons. There’s some well orchestrated action sequences, and a pretty decent reveal, but no real surprises.
When this was first published, I saw a snarky comment online that amounted to: “Jughead: The Hunger is as good as a werewolf story with Jughead can be,” which really isn’t true. One could have forgiven this commenter for thinking so a few years ago, but Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina taught us that horror stories with Archie characters can be good. Great, even. And not only does The Hunger fail to live up to its predecessors, it seems as if it’s not really trying to.
I know that as a high school student, Jughead Jones never lived up to his potential. But as a comic book character, he unquestionably should.