Sure, right after I praise Craig Boldman for his great Jughead short stories, he begins a multi-issue epic. But given the strong opening chapter of “A Jughead in the Family,” I don’t think I mind.
While there are plenty of opportunities for comic mayhem in the basic concept of Jughead coming to live with Archie and his parents, and Boldman does exploit them, he doesn’t forget to include the human aspect of these characters. We see Jughead upset about the rift with his father. We see that while Fred Andrews is gruff and quick to anger, he still cares for Jughead.
We see that Archie and Jughead really are brothers in all but blood. They see each other’s flaws, watch each other’s backs; and will do anything for one another. They have one of comics’ great friendships. Boldman gets all this across, not just by telling it to us, but by showing it through the characters’ actions and interactions.
The twisty turns of Jughead’s thinking and his keen grasp of human nature are on full display in one of the best scenes of the book. Needing to pick a fight with Archie, Jughead sabotages the redhead’s date with Veronica. He accurately presses every one of his friend’s buttons leading to a literal knock down.
Rex Lindsey’s art is beautiful. His characters have a naturalistic look to them. They’re not realistic in the sense of being photo like, but they have a sense of realism to them that makes the story believable. I love his depiction of Hot Dog.
Though Hot Dog is an anthropomorphized character, his very human like actions moving the plot along, he still looks like a real shaggy dog.
Both the above mentioned fight scene and an earlier sequence of Archie and Jughead playing catch show that Lindsey is fully capable of handling action. The baseball scene, which is only two panels long, is one of my favorites. It’s not fancy art. It’s just good art. Jughead reaches back to catch the ball, his arm extending out of the panel to create a sense of movement. Archie leans forward, looking over his shoulder to question his friend even as the ball lands in his glove. The onomatopoeic sound effects complete the scene.
If you like well-told stories that balance humor and character, run to pick up a copy of Jughead #207. Everyone else is.