Best Shots Advance Reviews: JUGHEAD - THE HUNGER, CHARMED #1

Dynamite Entertainment March 2017 cover
Credit: Dynamite Entertainment
Credit: Archie Comics

Jughead: The Hunger
Written by Frank Tieri
Art by Michael Walsh and Dee Cunniffe
Lettering by Jack Morelli
Published by Archie Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

After its explosive zombie debut of Afterlife With Archie and its gothic follow-up Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Archie Horror goes three for three with Jughead: The Horror, a striking high concept pulled off with panache thanks to writer Frank Tieri and artist Michael Walsh.

With Archie's wholesome pantheon proving to be the perfect mix for subversive horror, Jughead: The Hunger might have the most appropriate high concept yet - Riverdale's most voracious eater turns out to be feasting on human flesh when the moon is full, waking up with blood and limbs strewn across his bed.

Where writer Frank Tieri succeeds best is when he gets into Jughead's mind as he wrestles with his werewolf senses - enhanced smell that tracks not just food, but unwitting prey, and enhanced hearing that picks up the fear in his victims' heartbeats. Given Jughead's reputation as a human bottomless pit, Tieri's instincts to play up these sensory qualities is a smart move, and one that plays nicely with artist Michael Walsh.

Walsh has been overlooked for a long time, back to his work on Zero and Secret Avengers, so seeing him on a high-profile book like The Hunger feels way overdue. And this is very much a case of the right artist on the right project - his scratchy style sometimes feels like the nightmare love child of Jeff Lemire and Afterlife with Archie artist Francesco Francavilla, filled with mood and shadow and terror. There's such a sense of uneasiness to these pages, in part because of the gorgeous color scheme Walsh and Dee Cunniffe play with, from a series of insets as Jughead starts to turn, or even as we watch Jughead about to pounce on a gigantic hamburger.

With a concept and artwork this good, flaws in the overall plotting don't seem to register as much - while there are certainly ways this book could have been restructured to play up Jughead's werewolf alter ego more, Tieri instead plays up Jughead's victims, with the overall story of how this development happened being more of an afterthought. Another Riverdale character gets a bit of a revamp for this one-shot as well, but it ultimately feels a little bit underdeveloped, especially when compared to this fun twist on Riverdale's resident overeater.

In certain ways, it feels like a shrewd move on Archie's part to keep Jughead: The Hunger as a one-shot, just to keep this fun premise from overstaying its welcome - and to be fair, if it keeps production values this high, it's an approach some other comic books might wish to emulate. Without the constraints or expectations surrounding an ongoing or even a miniseries, Tieri and Walsh are able to cut to the chase with this deliciously subversive concept, making Jughead: The Hunger a truly satisfying read.

Credit: Dynamite Entertainment

Charmed #1
Written by Erica Schultz
Art by Maria Sanapo and Heartwork Studios
Lettering by Tom Napolitano
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Review by Kat Calamia
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

On the heels of Zenescope’s Charmed Season 10, Dynamite Entertainment takes over the popular TV franchise by introducing a 'lost episode' format to the comic book series. Taking place during the time period of the show instead of stories post-series finale like Zenescope’s run, Dynamite's premiere issue of Charmed seamlessly establishes the sisters’ close bond, but sadly the villain doesn’t make the main story memorable to completely hook the reader.

Opening up with Paige, Piper, and Phoebe using their unique power set to defeat a demon who can create astral projections of himself, Charmed #1 easily sucks TV fans into the comic book, reintroducing the girls by showing their different powers and personalities, even if the demon acted more as a punching bag than a threat. But sadly, after the opener the comic book starts to lose steam, especially with the main villain. His scenes were heavy on exposition, which made it hard to connect to the character and his motives. But I am glad that his plans are starting to connect to the girls’ daily lives, this will hopefully allow the audience to connect with him better in the next couple of issues.

The strength of this story, however, is the connection between Paige, Piper, and Phoebe. Erica Schultz is able to capture the chemistry Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, and Rose McGowan portrayed on screen. This is extremely important for a TV show franchise jumping into the comic book medium. It’s also nice that Schultz showcases the girls lives outside of their relationship, showing the characters as individuals. I hope to see this continued balance in future issues.

The pencils by Maria Sanapo do a solid job at showing the actresses’ likeness throughout the comic, especially with Rose McGowan’s character, Paige - that said, there are panels where facial features look inconsistent and had lack of detail, particularly with Phoebe’s character. But Sanapo does succeed with how she draws the girls’ power sets during action sequences - I was especially impressed with Paige and Leo’s whitelighter abilities.

The combination of Sanapo’s pencils and Heartwork Studios’ colors allowed the whitelighter special effect from the TV show to come to life in this comic book. Overall, Sanapo and Heartwork Studios had a great collaboration. Heartwork Studios’ bright color work allowed Sanapo’s pencils to really pop. I was most impressed with Heartwork Studios’ color work during the demon scenes, the studios’ use of red and orange brought brightness to a scene that could have otherwise been dampened with darkness.

If Charmed television fans need their fill of the Halliwell sisters, then Dynamite’s Charmed #1 is a good issue to whet your palate, but if you are looking for this comic to bring something new to the franchise, then you’ll be sadly disappointed. Charmed #1 does a great job at showcasing the lovable chemistry between the sisters, but brings a generic villain along for the ride.

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