by Ryan Mogge
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
When things are at their most dire, it can be surprising who will step up. Crisis allows people to drop their posturing and bluster and actively work on a shared goal. In Jughead 16, Ian Flynn, Mark Waid and Derek Charm show a new side of Reggie Mantle by putting Jughead in crisis.
For Jughead Jones, a horde of doe-eyed girls with hearts in their eyes is a living nightmare. Flynn and Waid highlight this idea with their four page riff on Jughead fighting zombies. With pitch perfect art from Charm, they tell a zombie story that both emphasizes Jughead’s fear and maintains the humor that grounds it in Jug’s perspective.
In this state of mind, Jughead finds himself wishing for a joke from his least-favorite friend. Reggie is a hard guy to love, but Flynn and Waid don’t tone down his narcissism even as they show Reggie playing a key role in protecting Archie. Reggie is the one who pulls Jug to safety, he is the one who proposes a theory as to the culprit and, ultimately, he sacrifices his image and self-image in order to help Jughead. Reggie usually functions as an antagonist, or at least an irritant for Jughead. Here, the opposition is intense and Reggie immediately falls into position as friend. He evens tries to keep Archie focused on something other than the girl in closest proximity.
He beings the conversation back to helping out Jughead and is both literally and figuratively Jughead’s right hand man throughout this scene. It’s a moment that allows Jughead and Reggie to bond over their impatience with Archie’s fixations. This brutish gallantry is rewarded with a plan that forces Reggie to deal with his own living nightmare in hundreds of girls utterly unimpressed as he desperately tries to talk himself up.
Charm lets us know exactly how much this is hurting Reggie. He is in the center of the panel in black and white, with lightning bolts of anxiety shooting off of him as he desperately tries to impress the angry pink-eyed women. He will not be able to win them over and he is doing this for his friend. Sabrina’s offer of a date is a benefit, but Reggie’s desire to help Jughead has been made clear. He may act like a jerk, and want you to think that he’s a jerk, but when you need him, he’s a jerk that’s on your side.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?