Archie: “You know Jug, it goes against your nature to play underhanded tricks.”
Jughead: “This time I wanna come out ahead! This time—I wanna win!”
*Gasp!* Say it isn’t so! Jughead stooping to trickery to win?! And what’s he trying to win anyway, that he’s acting so out of character? Why nothing less than being acknowledged as the Chocklit Shoppe’s steadiest customer.
“The Milkweed Lament” is a very enjoyable story that never goes where you expect it. Deliberate deviousness directed toward a stranger is not something usually associated with Jughead, but in this context it’s absolutely understandable. When it comes to food and Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe, Jughead has laser like focus, so it makes sense that he would deal with someone he perceives as a threat to his security with severe (for Jughead) measures.
Besides seeing a somewhat demented Jughead, readers also get to see Archie as the voice of reason. For once, it’s Archie who gets to look on in amused disbelief at Jughead’s antics. It’s a variation on the normal relationship between the boys and writer Craig Boldman exploits it nicely.
Then there’s the ending, and that’s where Boldman really pulls the rug out from under the readers’ feet. Through character dialogue, he subtly leads readers to believe one thing is going to happen. Then he turns it on its head. That twist and Jughead’s final line cap off a perfect little story.
In “The Sand Man,” Jughead’s proximity to the gangs’ entry in the Sand Sculpture Contest makes him king of the dune. Here again Boldman has Jughead showing his manipulative side, though this time it’s directed toward a more familiar target--his friends. The dialogue here is sharp and enjoyable.
Finishing out the issue is “Appetite for Excitement!” When Jughead tags along with Archie and Veronica to the amusement park, his idea of what makes for an entertaining day is very different from theirs. This is a light piece that’s notable mainly for what Jughead’s eating “fish-battered pork chop on a stick” being just one of the concoctions Boldman name checks.
Rex Lindsey and the rest of the art team do a beautiful job this issue. The characters are attractive and expressive, and while these stories have very little physical action, the book has a strong sense of movement. Lindsey is constantly changing his viewpoint on the events depicted. He moves in for close-ups, then pulls back for a wide-angle shot. While he sticks with a grid format, he varies the look of each page by including circle-shaped panels or tilted squares. His backgrounds are detailed without being fussy.
Barry Grossman’s colors are bright and eye-catching without being blinding. They’re colors that capture the feel of summer vacation. While not Technicolor, they have that same sharp edge to them.
Archie’s Pal Jughead #195 is an extremely entertaining and well designed reading package.
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