August 21, 2010

Ye Olde School Cafe’: Essential Werewolf By Night vol. 1 pt 3

Hey everybody, it’s time for another trip back in time! This week I’ll be continuing my romp through Marvel’s fantastic horror run in the 1970s in Ye Olde School Cafe’. Specifically, in Werewolf by Night for now, but Ghost Rider, Son of Satan, and Dracula to follow in the weeks ahead.

So far, we’ve seen the eerie origin of Jack Russell’s lycanthropic curse, his nightly transformation into a hairy beast, and his first couple of adventures as his alter ego. We now know that a great deal of trouble seems to stem from a book called The Darkhold. It seems this book is going to be a thorn in Jack’s side for quite a while, and he didn’t even read it yet!

So after Jack’s adventures in Marvel Spotlight, he transitioned into his own series. Now, when we last left him, he was turned to stone by the enigmatic Marlene Blackgar. Well, it seems that either Marlene’s powers don’t work on werewolves that well, or Jack’s transformation reverses the process, because he slowly but surely escapes his frozen prison. Buck gets to the island and finds Jack while wandering around. The two then decide to contact Jack’s sister to see if she is OK. Little do they know, Lissa is in big trouble, because her father has been told by Marlene that Jack stole the book from her and they want it back.

When Jack arrives at the residence, he realizes it is a trap. He fights his way past Marlene’s bodyguard Strug, then runs away because he can feel the change starting to happen. He turns into the werewolf, then returns to the house to fight the devious woman and her henchman. Jack bursts into the room and immediately attacks Strug. He claws at him, trying to rip his face off. The two battle ferociously with neither getting an edge over the other. Marlene decides to try and shoot the werewolf, but misses and hits Strug by accident. Strug asks why she did it, and then lurches over and dies. Desperate, Marlene tries her own powers to try and subdue Jack again. This time though, he remembers and covers his eyes. Marlene makes a huge mistake, because a mirror is right behind Jack and it reflects her gruesome powers right back at her. She and her wheelchair bound father (who was paralyzed, not killed by the werewolf throwing him out of a window previously) are instead frozen in place forever!

In the end, Jack and Buck are talking to Lissa about the book. Buck and Lissa say they looked everywhere but couldn’t find it. Jack says that they looked everywhere but here, and shows them he hid the book inside a box of cornflakes! Lissa and Buck then tell Jack they need to go for an opening at an art museum. When they arrive, Jack figures out what they’ve done. Buck and Lissa donated these “sculptures” (the frozen bodies of Marlene and her father) to the art museum for display.

In the next few issues, Jack fights another mad scientist type guy (Cephalos) who uses some wacky machine to transfer some of the werewolf’s power into his own body. After that, the story switches back to more mystery about the Darkhold. Jack takes the book to a priest, Father Joquez, for him to examine it and give Jack some answers. The priest gets possessed by the spirit of Aelfric, the Mad Monk. We also see more of the behind the scenes intrigue with Jack’s step-father’s involvement in his mothers death. Then Jack is hunted by some big game hunter on steroids named Joshua Kane. He’s sort of a lame version of Kraven the Hunter. After stopping him, he has to face Kane’s brother, who’s another mad scientist type dude that promises Jack a cure if he does some evil deeds for him. Jack eventually stops him, but then the dude kills himself before the werewolf can get his revenge.

One of my favorite parts in this book is “Carnival of Fear.” It’s a two-part story that has Jack caged up for display at a cheesy carnival. The dude that runs the carnival, some swami type dude, hypnotizes Jack and puts the werewolf on display. It’s a really cool story, especially from a visual standpoint. You see the werewolf fighting a bunch of the carnival attractions, including a strongman, tigers, lions, and then even the swami himself. That story from the perspective of the swami was all about one of the Bloodstones that he had acquired.

It seems that either a mad scientist, or a beast from hell, was always after Jack. The common denominator was usually the Darkhold or his step-father’s treachery. Jack/Werewolf by Night would face off against Krogg The Lurker from Beyond, a gang of sewer dwelling mutants led by a man named Sarnak, The Hangman (another really cool two-part story), and then Jack met a woman named Topaz. This would be an ongoing character that would become Jack’s sidekick for quite a while. She was under the guidance of a man named Taboo, but got out from under his control and decided to help Jack. Taboo wants the Darkhold and he is willing to do anything to get it. He even transfers the mind of Phillip Russell into a Frankenstein type beast (Algon) to fight the werewolf.

The best story of all is probably the crossover with the Tomb of Dracula series. I won’t get into too much detail, because I’ll be covering that soon enough when I present that Essential down the road. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Behemoth, another werewolf, and more vampires also plague Jack in the Essential Werewolf by Night vol. 1. Believe me when I say, that if you consider yourself a horror fan, but do not own this book, you’re really missing out on some of the best classic material from that era. Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Mike Friedrich, Doug Moench, and Tony Isabella get the writing credits for this book. Most of the work is Conway, Wolfman, and Friedrich, though. The artwork is almost all Mike Ploog. There are a few issues with Gil Kane, Tom Sutton, and then ending with Don Perlin. The series, Werewolf by Night, ran for forty-three issues starting in 1972.

Billy Dunleavy



  1. Aron

    Awesome stuff, man! Keep Ye Olde School Horror rollin’! AWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  2. Billy

    @Aron- It will keep rolllin’ for quite a while dude!

  3. Aron


  4. Billy

    @Aron- Look for Son of Satan (Damen Hellstrom), Ghost Rider, and Dracula in the near future!

  5. Jack had a surplus of green pants back then lol Kind of like how Bruce always had the purple one’s every time he changed into the Hulk.

  6. Billy

    @Speech- lol for sure man! Maybe he hits up the Goodwill as soon as he gets in town?

  7. Aron

    Is THAT where you get green and purple jeans? I’m on my way! Where’s my keys!?

  8. Billy

    @Aron- Yeah, that’s what Jack does right before he tears out someone’s adams apple. “Grrrrrrrrr!!!! Where’s the Goodwill in this town!”

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