Jughead #6 Review

Previously on...Jughead!

-Riverdale High has a new principal, Mr. Stanger, who immediately takes a dislike to Jughead and his lackadaisical ways. He even frames him by planting a knife in his locker. With some help from his pop, Jughead gets back into school, but it’s still dangerous.

-Principal Stanger’s other actions include hiring outrageously strict teachers, establishing a new athletics policy, drastically changing the school’s menu, and instituting some disconcerting new teaching practices.

-Said practices include building drones and hacking. This makes Jughead come to the conclusion that the principal is a spy. He gets Dilton to implement some spying technology on Stanger’s computer, but Stanger figures it out and sends a message to the gang, saying “HELLO, MR. JONES.”

-After doing some on-location research with a key witness, Jughead believes that after the school year’s Halloween dance, every single student will end up in a mysterious military division.

-The previous development also included a homage to a classic Betty & Veronica story where the gang met gender-flipped versions of themselves in Sunnydale. The modern version is even more hysterical, especially when they actually acknowledge the contrived weirdness. Well, some of them. Reggie just makes out with his alternate counterpart, Regina. I hope it wasn't an alternate version of his cousin.

-Despite being more lighthearted than the previous issues, it ends with the biggest cliffhanger yet. Somehow, Principal Stanger manages to shut down Pop’s Choklit Shoppe. This leads to a positively heartbreaking moment. Jughead, fully defeated by Stanger’s nefarious actions, starts crying and walks away, somberly declaring that Stanger wins.

-In every issue, Jughead falls asleep or gets knocked out, leading to dream sequences that either parody modern pop culture (i.e. Game of Thrones) or update classic Jughead series from the past. Yeah, for some reason, Archie Comics Publications really liked making Jughead go on wacky adventures. He ran a diner, became a member of the ‘Time Police’, and even turned into a computer program. Maybe. I can’t find any panels, but “Snax Headjug” does exist. If they don’t show weird Jughead tales from the past, then they parody old Archie stories, such as the universe where they’re all superheroes or agents of R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.

And now...the shocking conclusion!

Jughead #6 serves as the finale to the Principal Stranger storyline, as well as the final issue drawn by Erica Henderson. I’m going to miss her artistic style; it really helped to accentuate Chip’s humor with bizarre facial expressions and background gags. As for the finale, it wraps everything up nicely. The plan to expose Stranger’s machinations is fairly clever, if slightly implausible.

If I had to come up with any flaws in the comic, it would be the foreshadowing and characterization. Certain parts of the brainwashing gradually get less and less subtle, such as a party banner outright revealing Stanger’s ultimate plan. I realize that it was meant to be a joke, but I feel that in this case, less is more. Secondly, Moose Mason seems to be even less intelligent in this issue, even speaking in the third person at several points. The brainwashing serves as an in-universe explanation, but it still didn’t feel right.

Moose is meant to be a slightly more self-aware and evolved version of the ‘dumb jock’ stereotype. At the best of times, he knows that he’s not the brightest, but he does his best. At the worst of times, how he’s in the same year as the other characters boggles the mind. Several memorable storylines have revolved around him having dyslexia and doing his best to succeed. Continuity in the Archie universe is lax, to put it charitably, but several writers have been trying to do a better job of portraying him in recent years. I do know that this is a reboot and that it’s a partial parody of the Archie universe, but I feel that the character deserves better.

Despite my concerns, Jughead #6 is a fantastic comic. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next issue. Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson are a superb team. Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or the Harry Potter books.