Marvel Spotlight #2: Werewolf By Night (1972)

Werewolf by night, asshole by day, was what my friends and I always said when talking about the Werewolf. We thought we were funny, but what the hell, we were teenagers. And we were right! The werewolf is an asshole by day.
Well, Jack Russell (that’s right, Jack Russell, arf arf) was an asshole, and he was a tormented asshole, too. See, his daddy was a Baltic bad-ass and his mom was a student who met daddy on a vacation abroad (there’s nothing like a nice vacation in Latvia, is there, especially in the days when it was a Russian republic). Daddy, though, had a secret. Every month for three nights he would lock himself in a tower "to study", when he would… umm, have orgies? Mentruate secretly? Practice taxidermy? No, silly, he became a werewolf! One night a stray bolt of lightning hit the tower and boom! like a bolt of lightning, oh yeah literally, the Baltic bad-ass was freed to wreak havoc. Finally some hunters found him , and with a series of loud BLAMs and KRACKs, daddy was dead.
Unfortunately, the werewolf gene somehow got passed to Jack and, you guessed it, every month for three days he’d haunt the public library.
I love this florid writing from writer Gerry Conway, who was always a wretched comic book writer:
"Those first two years were idyllic – yet even then, when we lived in his family castle – neven when you were born… and your sister Lissa was on the way… I could sense some dark secret that stood between us – a secret that blossomed like some wicked fruit once a month, when he would lock himself in the singly, musty tower – and remain there, for a trilogy of days, and a trilogy of nights. He told me he studied his books omn those nights, and for two years I tried to believe him – until the night of the storm – when a bolt of lightning tore out the tower’s side! For, later that same night – in the village below, on rain-slocked cobble streets – the first stone of our life together crumbled as the village carpenter made his way homeward through the streets – but never made it home – never made it home, again."
I didn’t realize until I typed up this passage just how bad the punctuation and word flow is in that sequence. Granted mama Russell was in the hospital from injuries sustained in a car crash that she got in after trying to find her asshole son, but couldn’t she speak in complete sentences?
My favorite part of this issue is where Russell, as the Werewolf, fights some nasty dude. Nasty Dude is big, but he doesn’t seem especially tough, but it takes the Werewolf four pages to overcome him – and even then, it’s the Nasty Dude’s sudden cowardice that does him in, not anything that Wolfie does. See, Nasty Dude isn’t scared of Jack when he thinks he’s just an idiot dressed in a mask. As soon as Nasty Dude realizes he’s fighting (and winning a fight!) against a real werewolf, he freaks out and runs away.
But logic never bothered Gerry Conway, and god knows someone like Brian Bendis wouldn’t create such rotten comics these days (that’s a joke, get it, Bendis does crap work).
At least Mike Ploog, the artist with the greatest name in comics history, did a great job on the art. He was a longtime aide to the great Will Eisner, and his linework looks a lot like the great man’s work. Man, the art looks good, full of mood and mystery. I think Ploog is a really underrated artist.
And his name spelled backwards is Goolp.
You can get this comic as part of the new Essential Werewolf By Night, some 25 issues of comics for a mere $16.99. This kind of awesome cheesiness is hard to find these days.

4 Responses to “Marvel Spotlight #2: Werewolf By Night (1972)”

  1. cauwel3 Says:

    Are all the back issue comics you write about in your blog part of your personal collection??

  2. Jason Says:

    Dude, I have like 9000 comics, and there are some very cool guys who work at all the comic shows who sell old comics in mediocre conditions real cheap. I love buying from them. I can\’t wait to see what they have at this weekend\’s show. Though I have to admit that I have today\’s comic in a reprint book. But it sorta counts, right?

  3. Ariel Says:

    Jason. Thanks for this recap of the Werewolf by Night series from Marvel. I love reading those old horror comics, but I don\’t have the cash to buy the originals so I usually try to pick up the essentials. Essential Tomb of Dracula was a bargain at a convention I went to in Long beach, but I will try to hunt down Essential WBN. At the newspaper I work for, a guy wrote a letter to the editor criticizing us, saying we had a liberal slant only because one of the writers wrote an article which didn\’t put Bush in a positive light. The staff were all dumping on this guy whose name just happened to be Jack Russell. I said, "Not only that, but he probably is a werewolf by night" but nobody got the reference. Guess none of them are avid comic book readers.

  4. Jason Says:

    I\’m going to review Essential Werewolf By Night for SilverBulletComicBooks as a Silver Soapbox for Halloween. I can\’t resist doing a Silver Bullet Soapbox for a comic about a werewolf.

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