Jughead’s Time Police
Reprints Jughead’s Time Police #1-5
Written by Sina Grace
Art by Derek Charm
In the 2010s, Archie Comics underwent a major reboot that saw new variations on the iconic character and his friends spinning out. It began with Afterlife with Archie, a Walking Dead-esque mature horror take on the students of Riverdale. Since then, there have been several supernatural books as well as some updated humor books, trying to make Archie relevant for the 21st century. Jughead has been the star of his own rebooted title plus an alternate-reality horror book, Jughead: The Hunger. Time Police may sound like one of these new ideas, but it is a reboot of a mini-series from the 1990s.
Jughead Jones fudges his attempt to win the Riverdale Annual Bake-Off and enlists resident science nerd Dilton to build a time machine. Jughead and Archie go back where he comes face to face with his past self and sends ripples through the timestream. Shortly after that, he’s brought to the 29th century by January McAndrews, an officer in the Time Police. Jughead learns he has had a profound effect on the future, responsible for ending world hunger, for one thing. However, there is a sinister presence in the future waiting for our hero. Soon Jughead will learn how reality ripples out into branches when he meets his parallel universe selves.
This is a smartly written title, nothing that will rock the foundations of your life but a quick, fun read. Writer Sina Grace is a well-known name in indie comics circles with many well-received titles with Image Comics. Additionally, he penned a critically-acclaimed Iceman ongoing series that made the character’s newly discovered sexuality a big part of the development. Grace has a knack for dialogue, and it shines here as he brings very distinct characterization.
This is time travel akin to Back to the Future, a story that has fun with the conceits of time travel but isn’t trying to be super serious or lofty. Jughead’s nemesis ends up being a version of himself in the style of Dan Decarlo’s art, the sort of classic Jughead. I love the clever wink of having the controversial reboot version of the character battling the version of him that has been relegated to trade paperback collections. We also see the werewolf Jughead from The Hunger, the television Riverdale Jughead, and more and more. There’s even an old grizzled time-traveling Jughead who is a clear parody of Marvel’s Cable.
The artwork is an excellent blend of cartoonish styles and anime, with specialized techniques used for the Jugheads of the different realities. From page one, there is a sense of momentum and energy, the story always moving forward. Grace makes good use of the supporting cast of Archie, mainly Kevin Keller, who may be a minor player in the story but as some wonderfully funny moments. Jughead is, of course, the star, and I think Grace makes a good argument to be the writer on an ongoing series for the character.
Jughead’s Time Police ultimately sets the stage for a greater exploration of the Archie multiverse and timeline. I would love to see the company revive some of the other odd variations they published over the decades with this new fresh editorial direction. The Man from Riverdale was a spy spoof that could have legs today. Jughead’s Diner was a wonderfully surreal title that brought the character to another parallel reality. Veronica’s passport had the wealthy heiress traveling the world and solving mysteries. Handing these ideas over to smart indie creators could keep Archie Comics delivering on these wonderful fun stories.