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Script: Gerry Conway
Pencils: Mike Ploog
Inks: Frank Chiaramonte
Colorist: C. Jetter
Letterer: Stan G.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Werewolf by Night versus the Mad Monk: what secrets does the Darkhold have and why did Jack Russell’s father have it?
Wolf Out With Werewolf by Night
Hey, y’all, welcome back to another entry of Comic Book Throwback Reviews. Since we ain’t getting no new comic books for the near future your old pal Brent has been digging through his long boxes to bring you some throwback reviews. Today we are looking at another Bronze Age gem script by Gerry Conway, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by Frank Chiaramonte, colors by C. Jetter and letters by Stan G. in Werewolf by Night #3.
I know, I know I just did a bronze age Ghost Rider book! But look, I love the bronze age! It hits that nice spot of being a little bit more serious than their golden age/silver age predecessors, but still wonderfully goofy and comic-book-y, all the same.
It is the sweet spot for Werewolf by Night as well. This is an odd era in Marvel where they tried to put horror back into their superhero world. Dracula had his own book, for cripes sake! And Dracula showed up here recently in Jason Aaron’s wild Avengers run!
But back to the man of the hour: Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night. In issue #3 Russell seems to just be coming to terms with his inherited lycanthropy. Well, not enough to realize he shouldn’t go for a drive during a full moon! If you were wondering if werewolves could drive cars then your answer lies inside these pages.
Anyway, apparently Jack Russell’s dad had the satanic Darkhold book of Marvel lore! A priest friend decided it would be good to translate the ancient Latin text by himself. Dude obviously hasn’t watched many horror movies, but he does it better than Bruce Campbell.
We do get a nice history lesson on the Darkhold which is very interesting to read for any Marvel geeks out there. But you see where this is going. Priest translates and gets possessed by the title baddie, the Mad Monk. Who, I mean, needs a little bit more threatening name.
So, Jack, who is Werewolf by Night now, you know, since it’s night and everything, through animal instinct finds his friends and a battle ensues with the Mad Monk! Oh, and there is a whole subplot with his sister and stepdad that gets intertwined. Apparently the Russells’ stepdad had their mother killed, which is probably something you should talk on the phone more quietly about.
There is a mixed bag of art in Werewolf by Night #3. It definitely sticks to the horror roots. There are some fantastic shots of melting, transforming faces that are filled with ewwy, gooey, gory details and they are quite shocking to see on the pages.
If you follow any of my stuff you know I love my werewolves and I am very picky about them. The Werewolf by Night design is probably one of my favorites and it is detailed well here. You get a nice bipedal wolf-man. It is a nice mix of being very feral-looking, yet human. I do quite enjoy the flatter more human face than a more wolf looking one. Especially for something like this.
The action is also well detailed and laid out in Werewolf by Night #3. There are some fun sequences through the issue. Also a fantastic design for the minotaur-looking fellow on the cover (his name is Dragonus).
The only major problem is when Jack Russell’s sister shows up. I don’t know what happened with her face but every scene it just looks incredibly odd for her body. It looks way too big and her expressions are just laughable throughout. It is very distracting how off it looks.
As the World Turns
Now, obviously, this is an older comic book. I say “obviously”, but anybody that is new to comics and has never read any older stuff might be surprised how “dense” these books are. Lots of narration boxes and what characters are thinking. These can be a bit too much at times, but I like that the creative team paints a picture for us a bit and helps us get into the mind of the Werewolf by Night. They also set the horror mood well.
Werewolf by Night #3 is a wild third issue for the series. The Darkhold history is a highlight of the book and I always love the design of this character. The Mad Monk fight is a bit anti-climactic, but it is a fun jaunt. I give this 3 wolf howls out of 5. If you want to check this book out, it is available on Marvel Unlimited!
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