Jughead’s Time Police #1
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Derek Charm
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: Jack Morelli
Cover artists: Derek Charm (regular)/Tyler Boss, Francesco Francavilla, Robert Hack and Tracy Yardley (variants)
Editors: Alex Segura & Vincent Lovallo
Publisher: Archie Comics
Price: $3.99 US
There’s something universal about Archie comics. It seems like it’s a cultural baseline for western society (or at least North American society), the sort of thing with which everyone has some degree of familiarity, connection and nostalgia. As such, I like to revisit these characters from time to time, and the oddity of a time-travel title featuring the original slacker caught my eye. To my surprise, as I prepared to write this review, I discovered this is a revival of a concept Archie Comics published almost three decades ago. It doesn’t appear to have taken off back then, but writer Sina Grace delivers a solid sci-fi comedy here that should appeal to younger readers, though the time-travel tropes here won’t likely grab an older audience — though it does serve as a slightly amusing diversion.
Jughead’s disastrous showing in a pie-cooking contest sends him into a tremendous funk. No amount of milkshakes or burgers can even seem to snap him out of it, but when Archie tells his pal he can’t go back in time and fix things, Juggie finds his inspiration and the determination to set things right. Jughead Jones sets out to invent time travel, and he’s going to need Dilton Doiley, the smartest kid at Riverdale High, to help him out.
Derek Charm’s artwork was definitely my favorite aspect of the book. The simplicity of the linework is in keeping with the Archie aesthetic despite the fact he’s broken away from the recognizable house style. I’m reminded of Erica (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) Henderson’s style throughout the book. I especially appreciated how Charm’s portrayal of Jughead maintained his youth. He doesn’t look like an adult or a small child. Charm really offers a much different take on Dilton, and I liked the willingness to experiment with the looks of such well known characters.
While this comic boasts the same sort of innocent, timeless quality that characterizes many Archie-related comics, it’s also clearly set in the present. Pop’s offers Wi-Fi along with its burgers and shakes, for example. As such, there was a small piece of dialogue that took me right out of the story because it didn’t fit: namely, the Spice Girls references in a brief exchange between Jughead and Betty. Admittedly, this is a minor point, but I did find it jarring.
One of the best running gags of the book was the fact that Hot Dog is secretly the smartest character in a story that revolves around practical applications of theoretical physics. Hot Dog’s thought balloons keep this off-the-wall comic anchored to the traditional Archie conventions, and I love the suggestion that the dog is the one who allows Jughead and his friends to crack time travel.
As I noted at the outset, I found Jughead’s Time Police to be cute, but ultimately a forgettable diversion. Its simplicity and familiar sci-fi elements made for a predictable read, though it was interesting to see the titular character as a figurative fish out of water. But while this wasn’t exactly the comic book for me, that doesn’t mean it’s not good. This is a great read for a younger crowd. The blend of science fiction, cooking elements and whimsy seems like something my nine-year-old son would thoroughly enjoy. I’ll have to consider collected editions of this comic as a gift on special occasions to come. 7/10