Jughead #2 is yet another silly, sarcastic entry in writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Erica Henderson’s surreal, slice of life series starring the Riverdale’s most non-conforming conforming teenager. This issue shows Jughead’s basically superpower of being able to skirt by the rules without breaking from getting free milkshakes from Pop’s to even avoiding detention for the most part under the draconian rule of Principal Stanger. He even has a purely metaphorical cheat code that hacks P.E. class, but Zdarsky and Henderson bring an end to his good luck with a dark and compelling cliffhanger.
One of the highlights of Jughead has been Erica Henderson’s cartoonish, yet with normal body proportions take on the Archie characters as she puts her own imprint on classic characters, like Betty, Archie, Kevin Keller (who has some stellar eyebrow game) as well as Jughead himself. Riverdale is technically supposed to be the typical American high school, but it is really quite a weird place with red head teenagers having the ability to destroy entire mansions, and other teens becoming entrepreneurs through selling tasty hamburgers. Zdarsky and Henderson keep things relatable by having their characters be addicted to video games, bum money of their friends, and fear the bane of high school existence: detention. But Henderson cuts loose with her facial expressions and gesture work from Jughead’s should-be-trademark side eye when he’s making a smart aleck comment to Betty’s rage about detention.
Henderson also has a lot of fun with her color palette in this issue’s dream sequence story, which is a Doctor Who meets Terminator time travel yarn where she uses lots of deep pinks and blues to mark the difference between present Riverdale and 29th century Riverdale. She and Zdarsky use this story within a story to create yet another strange and wonderful character, January McAndrews, who is a female Time Police that kind of has a hybrid of Archie and Jughead’s personalities with Archie’s earnestness in her attempts to save future Riverdale and Jughead’s sly sense of humor. This can also be seen in her design as she wears Jughead’s crown hat (Which is high fashion in the feature because this is Jughead’s dream sequence.) and has Archie’s red hair to go with her blue marching band uniform, which is a refreshing departure from skin tight spandex and makes sense in the high school setting. At this point, time travel stories are getting a little overused in comics popping up in everything from All-New X-Men to Munchkin, but again Zdarsky keeps things light and fresh by having Jughead hilariously play the situation completely straight, and Henderson even creates the simplest time travel diagram yet with no 52’s in sight. (Sorry, Rip Hunter.)
In its first two issues, Jughead #2 has found a formula, but it’s not a bad one and worth sticking too with the combination of offbeat high school story A-plot and genre parody B-plot. The genre parody story lets Erica Henderson draw an endless variety of cool stuff, including dinosaurs, time travel vehicles, and punching while the high school story lets her and Chip Zdarsky bounce off each other for comedic effect. Jughead gets some amazing, sarcastic one-liners, but Henderson puts Jughead‘s humor on another level with her use of beat panels, a quick change to the layout (See the later P.E. scenes), and even the use of orange in her colors towards the end of the issue to give the big finale a mock epic feel.
Jughead #2 is sarcastic slackerdom raised to mythic heights and as well as being a showcase for two of the funniest creators in comics: Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson.