Indie Comics Spotlight: Jughead: The Hunger #1, Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1, and The Courier #1
By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Jughead: The Hunger #1
The concept of an unknown killer prowling the streets at night and being a mild-mannered citizen by day certainly isn’t new. Just like knowing Jughead likes to eat A LOT isn’t entirely new. Knowing that Jughead might be a combination of both of the above statements might be news, though, and it’s pretty fun to read about in Jughead: The Hunger #1 from Archie Comics. The issue is written by Frank Tieri, illustrated by Michael Walsh, colored by Walsh and Dee Cunniffe, and lettered by Jack Morelli.
Jughead Jones has always had an insatiable appetite…but what if his hunger came from a sinister place? When a murderous menace is on the prowl, taking the lives of some of the most well-known and esteemed inhabitants of Riverdale, Jughead and his family’s dark legacy comes to light.
What Tieri does exceptionally well in Jughead: The Hunger #1 is leverage Jughead’s reputation as someone always eating into something more sinister. The issue bounces back and forth between keeping the killings at night somewhat off-camera, but that doesn’t stop Tieri from being able to infuse a sense of dread throughout the book. Tieri also gives other characters in the universe interesting roles that serve to help and/or hinder Jughead with his problems. The dialogue bears this out well, tapping into the established relationships between the characters and making the whole thing a bit more personal while also adding some moments of levity. The only downside to the issue is that Tieri sort of rushes through things, which owes to the fact that it’s a one-shot and not a miniseries.
Walsh does a fantastic job augmenting the horror with some visceral artwork that reinforces the notion of a killer roaming the streets of Riverdale at night. All of the characters are stylized by jagged lines that give their figures a presence that cuts against the backdrops. Like Tieri’s approach, Walsh gives the book a greater sense of terror by keeping a lot of the transformations off-panel, allowing the reader to use their imagination for the worst. And the way Walsh renders the monster is pretty terrifying as well in that he showcases the transformation from a person into a beast with some elongated limbs and contortions in between for good measure. Walsh and Cunniffe’s colors are largely red and black to reinforce the notion that a bloodthirsty beast is hunting at night.
Jughead: The Hunger #1 is a solid one-shot that actually fits quite well within the greater, relaunched Archie universe. Jughead has always been something of a mysterious character and relying on that vague backstory makes for some interesting character developments here. Tieri’s grasp of the characters is phenomenal and allows him to stretch their roles in ways that are new but not entirely unbelievable. Walsh’s artwork is eerie in its presentation and the harsh lines give the book a ferocious presentation. Jughead: The Hunger #1 can’t be recommended enough as it takes familiar characters and places them in extremely mature and unfamiliar territory.
Jughead: The Hunger #1 is available now.
Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1
“What kind of scum would attack a ship full of refugees?”
The vastness of space lends itself to adventure. In the middle of a lot of the stranger adventures is Capitan and his journeys continue in Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 from Black Mask Studio. The issue is written by Fabian Rangel, Jr., illustrated by Alexis Ziritt, and lettered by Ryan Ferrier.
An ancient evil is gathering power throughout the cosmos, and it falls upon the legendary Space Riders to kick its ass! Having disbanded, the crew of Capitan Peligro, Mono, and Yara must reunite for what may be their final ride! The cult comic that electrified comic readers in the brain returns to blast your fragile human psyche into oblivion!
There’s something beautiful about Rangel’s script for Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 in that it relies on pulling no punches. As the lead character, Capitan is given plenty of bravado to carry his words – words that Rangel isn’t shy about getting dirty with. In fact, the entire issue is a seemingly ongoing statement on just not giving a what about anything and everything. Rangel also manages to work in some past between Capitan and Mono, giving them each divergent paths to pursue before a seemingly inevitable reunion. And most of the issue focuses on that relationship between the two of them and Rangel doesn’t really focus too much on the larger plot itself.
Ziritt’s illustrations are just as frenetic and psychedelic as the first series. He taps into something coarse in the illustrations, relying on a very vague drawing style that’s reflective of the vague approach to life taken by the characters in the series. He illustrates the book very loosely, emphasizing artwork primarily through the vibrant colors showcased throughout. The artwork taps into a sense of retro nostalgia that emphasizes the sheer zaniness of the characters and events involved. The story itself is pretty ridiculous in its approach and Ziritt’s artwork only pushes it further over the top.
Like its predecessor before it, Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 maintains an “anything goes” attitude in both its tone and approach. Capitan continues to scour the universe for any and all ill will while dealing with problems of his own at the same time. Rangel’s script is pretty lax on the plot details, but there’s plenty of bold characterizations. Ziritt’s artwork is very loose and free-flowing in a way that imbues the book with a visual manifestation of the book’s personality. Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 is a pretty fun read.
Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 is available now.
The Courier #1
Rebuilding after a worldwide disaster is a tall order that requires people to pull together. Despite this, there will still be some who are content to hole up and let the rest of the world continue to suffer. That leaves a void that needs to be filled by someone like Eve in The Courier #1 from Zenescope. The issue is written by Ralph Tedesco, illustrated by J.G. Miranda, colored by Bryan Valenza, and lettered by Kurt Hathaway.
In 2033, less than 1% of the population survived a devastating pandemic virus. Half of those who lived were immune while half of the survivors mutated into something disturbingly subhuman. The vast “wasteland” between strongholds is a very dangerous and unforgiving place where the poor are forced to live in areas where gangs, pirates, and the mutated roam free. Couriers are key to the survival of the Strongholds and are paid handsomely to deliver valuables between them. Eve Harper is one of the best couriers there is, but when she takes a job to find a missing shipment for an extremely dangerous drug dealer named Gillings, Eve is forced to use every trick she’s ever learned in order to survive the riskiest job of her life.
Tedesco seems content to keep things in The Courier #1 pretty straightforward and takes an equally no-frills approach. The issue sets up the key players, lays out the stakes, and fills out some of the details in the world pretty cleanly. Tedesco characterizes Eve as a Courier who’s been around the block a few times and moves the story through her while also offering a power-struggle of sorts elsewhere. It’s an effective means of setting up the series, in that Tedesco gives both storylines enough room to breathe and develop on their own. The dialogue is pretty clean as well and Tedesco doesn’t hold the hands of the readers, instead letting them interpret things.
Miranda’s concise linework is a good fit for the story. Many of the human characters sport something of a Mad Max influence, clothed in rugged clothes that reflect a weary lifestyle. Miranda also does a good job of illustrating the Primals as something far from being human, not quite making them zombies, but more feral beasts. Panels are laid out very cleanly and offer great shots of the action throughout, with Miranda emphasizing the war-torn world of the issue. Valenza uses pretty minimal coloring to cast the world in a relatively dire light as well.
The Courier #1 is an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic narrative that eschews zombies for something similar. Eve is one of the few in the world willing to risk her life for a job that needs to be done. Tedesco’s script is clean and offers a compelling story. Miranda’s illustrations are a good fit for the story and rely on a pretty clean and minimal approach. The Courier #1 shows a publisher in Zenescope looking to branch out into properties that aren’t so influenced by the fairy tales of past.
The Courier #1 is available now.