August 22, 2010

Marvel Snapshot: Character Spotlight: Jack Russell (Werewolf by Night)

What’s happening everybody! It’s time to come full circle in this edition of Marvel Snapshot. This week’s great spotlight will be on none other than Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night himself! If you’ve been reading my other column, you’ll know why this week’s spotlight is a book-end to the last three weeks of my columns, including last week’s Snapshot.

Jack Russell was born into a family with a long line of cursed human beings. He, like his father before him, is a werewolf. His father, Gregor Russoff, was a werewolf that was shot and killed when Jack was just a young boy. The family lived in a castle that was passed down with an inheritance in Transylvania. Since then, he has been raised by his mother and her new husband Philip Russell (a former boyfriend and younger brother of Gregor, who anglicized his family name when he moved to Los Angeles). The two also raised a daughter, Lissa, in America.

Everything seemed fine until Jack’s eighteenth birthday. It was then that his family curse changed him for the first time into a werewolf. At first, Jack thought they were dreams, but he soon realized nothing could be further from the truth. He couldn’t control the changes in the beginning, but later on could control it and change when he wanted to. Not long after he started changing, Jack learned of a book that was part of his family’s and werewolves’ histories. It is called the Darkhold, and Jack would soon realize that this evil manifesto would be worth more than that of dozens of human lives to certain people. Miles Blackgar, Taboo, even Dracula himself tried to kill Jack and anyone who would get in their way to obtain that book and the secrets it held.

Over the years, Jack had many wild and frightening adventures with some sidekicks, like Buck Cowan and Topaz, but nothing was more fantastic than his list of adversaries. Krogg – The Lurker from Beyond, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Carnival of Fear, Hangman, Taboo, and The Lord of Vampires, Dracula himself! The list of people Jack met or teamed up with is just as crazy too! Moon Knight (first appearance), Spider Woman, Tigra, Spider-Man, Morbius, and so on.

This series was handled in the beginning by two men. Writing was Gerry Conway, and the art by Mike Ploog. Both guys did an excellent job with this great character, and it was never a dull read. I can honestly say that reading the Essential Werewolf by Night will keep any classic horror fan’s attention. This character and book fit in perfectly along the others of its time, and definitely was a welcome addition to the House of Ideas! Check below for a recommended reading list and some great pics of the most famous Werewolf of all!

Recommended Reading
Essential Werewolf by Night vol. 1
Essential Werewolf by Night vol. 2
Marvel Comics Presents vol. 1 (#54-59)
Moon Knight vol. 1 (#28-30)
Morbius vol. 1 (#26-31)
Spider-Woman vol. 1 (#6, 19, 32, 48-50)
Werewolf by Night vol. 2 (#1-6)
Dead of Night featuring Werewolf by Night (MAX) (#1-4)

Billy Dunleavy