For the past couple years, the "new, hipster" Archie has been pushing the envelope on what can be done within the confines of an old, beloved (and outdated) media brand: there was Kevin Keller, a gay character; Jughead coming out as asexual; a seriously scary zombie story; Sharknado spinoffs; a breast cancer storyline; even a guest appearance by Jaime "Love and Rockets" Hernandez: but Chip "Sex Criminals" Zdarsky's run on Jughead, illustrated by Erica Henderson and just collected in a trade paperback shows just how much fun the new normal of Archie can be!

The Archie series' long-running charm in part by iterating through each of the Riverdale kids' character traits — Moose is dumb, Midge is boy-crazy; Veronica is an aloof princess; Reggie is a narcissistic dick; Jughead is a compulsive eater with a romantic attachment to hamburgers.

Zdarsky's Jughead takes this template and updates it, giving each character a chance to express their archetypal behaviors in thoroughly modern ways; and then wraps the whole thing around a series of fanfic scenarios in which Jughead swoons (usually because he's just learned that his hamburger supply is about to be cut off), and has a fantasy in which he and his pals and their tics are transposed into Game of Thrones, Terminator, and other media franchises, with "Marty Stu" roles for Jughead in each turn.

All of this is in service to a sharp, mysterious storyline that has the administration and faculty of Riverdale High summarily fired, replaced with disciplinarian and militaristic teachers who earn Jughead's instant enmity by phasing out the cafeteria fare in favor of a uniform grey soylentular glop. Jughead's war on the administration is waged with Mark Twain wit, Jughead dancing along the rulebook's lines, finding ways to infuriate the interlopers without giving them a pretense to expel him (until they cheat by planting a weapon on him).

Though the new Jughead contains trenchant commentary on zero-tolerance policies, militarized education, public-private partnerships, corruption, authoritarianism, and other grown up subjects, it's all handled so deftly and matter-of-factly — as are the now-established canonical elements about the characters' sexuality, etc — and in such service to the story, that it feels unmistakably Archie, almost fluffy, but with depths that linger in your imagination when the cover is closed.

Zdarsky's work on Sex Criminals is unabashedly dirty and self-indulgent and delightful, and it's a small miracle of talent and vision that so much of that carries over into this all-ages title.

Jughead Volume One [Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson/Archie Comics]