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Jughead #4

    Ian Jane

  • Jughead #4

    Jughead #4
    Released by: Archie Comics
    Released on: February 10th, 2016.
    Written by: Chip Zdarsky
    Illustrated by: Erica Henderson
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    When we last left everyone's favorite burger munching man-child, Jughead managed to get his expulsion from Riverdale High turned into a suspension but tensions still run high between the students and nasty ol' Principal Stanger and his odd crew of teachers. Knowing full well that something is up - after all, the teachers are making the kids build drones and run military style exercises in the schoolyard - Jughead decides he's going to have to come up with some proof that, well, the faculty and administration are up to no good!

    When this issue begins, Jughead gathers his friends together to talk about this - to try and convince them that he's not a conspiracy theorist but is in fact onto something here, that Riverdale High is being turned into a training ground for secret agents! But his friends? They think he's nuts, maybe a little exhausted from all of the video games he's been playing lately. They walk out of his pad and Jughead once again stands alone.

    Back in class the next day, Jughead winds up being the warm up target for dodgeball in gym class. When this happens, his imagination once again takes over and he sees himself as the dread pirate Slackbeard (“It's called slackbard because I can't grow one!”) in a race to find Pop's treasure before his rival Captain Principal! But he's kicked off the ship by his crew for being lazy he's saved by none other than Principal himself, who he introduces himself to as Archie Andrews. Together they head off to find the treasure but Quartermaster Lodge knows something isn't right with this guy. Just as things get bad, January, of the Time Police, shows up but before that can go any further a dodgeball to the face snaps him back to reality.

    This, in its own way, is a blessing in disguise for Jughead, as through a series of events it leads to a chance to check out the data on Stanger's computer… but we'll say no more for fear of spoiling another really fun read in the latest and greatest saga of Jughead Jones.

    So in this issue, Jughead does confirm to one of the few gay students at Riverdale that, yes, he is asexual. This, he claims, gives him an advantage over guys like Archie, who are so hormonal that they can't think as clearly as he can. It makes sense, if you think back about the character's interactions with the fairer sex, and it probably came as a surprise to very few, but there it is, out in the open and a move that may be a little controversial to those who oppose seeing more traditional characters like those featured in the Archieverse dealing with issues of modern sexuality (or lack thereof).

    With that addressed, the story itself is a good one. Zdarsky builds on the plot devices laid out in the earlier issues in a nice way, working humor into the story just as often as you'd hope for in a Jughead story. The 'fantasy sequences' where we voyage into Jughead's imagination are always funny and the pirate escape in this issue is no exception. They also allow the ongoing storyline to segue into shorter vignettes, like a lot of the Jughead stories of old. Zdarsky has a good feel for the characters and he writes them well, keeping them modern enough that young readers of the day will probably get a kick out of it but at the same time playing things traditionally enough that, well, it's still Riverdale, right? Henderson's artwork continues to work nicely alongside the script, providing nice clean lines and some dramatic layouts to complement the action and insanity quite well.

    Zdarksy, as he has in the three issues prior, contributes a text page at the end of the feature story that once again introduces an insane 'Classic Jughead' story from years past. This time around it's a strip called Pardon My Bumper from 1949. Here Jughead and the gang get into a fender bender and of course, that leads to hijinks. If that weren't enough, there's a second vintage strip in this issue, also from 1949, called Soupy The Cynic where we meet Jughead's little cousin Souphead, who could also be his doppelganger.

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