Werewolf by Night (1972) #2

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Frank Chiaramonte inks the Ploog this issue, resulting in some really good art, but not the sublime standard Ploog’s set doing his own inks. It seems like Chiaramonte takes over a few pages into the comic; after a while, the faces lose that Ploog character. The expressiveness. Or maybe, since it’s eventually just the villain, his henchman, and the werewolf, no one cared about the expressions.

Before that winnowing down, writer Gerry Conway works on his subplots. The Darkhold is the major B-plot, with Jack and his new best friend and roommate Buck Cowan taking it out to a former university professor priest turned labor organizer priest for translation. They also meet up with Terri, who appeared in one panel in the first appearance of Werewolf by Night and had a different hair color. She sort of joins the supporting cast. It’s hard to say because once Jack heads out with the villain, it’s full moon and transformation time, not time for love.

The comic opens with the “third night” of Jack’s transformation cycle, seemingly making the issue an immediate sequel to the last one. Some of the other details fit—Jack having just moved in with Buck, for example—but there’s no mention of the previous issue’s memorable adventures.

Probably because this issue’s villain has similar evil plans, though the last villains’ schemes didn’t involve the werewolf for experimental purposes, they did have a bunch of non-lycanthropic experimenting going on. I think the werewolf fought someone in Marvel Spotlight who wanted to fix themselves through experiments too. Jack just can’t stop running into magically-inclined mad scientists.

But he also fights a shark. The comic opens with the cops, then a mysterious helicopter, chasing the werewolf through the Los Angeles docks and into the ocean. Werewolf goes in the water, shark’s in the water. And even though the werewolf doesn’t want to fight, the shark’s got different ideas.

The chase is good. The shark is eh. There’s another potentially big set-piece at the end of the story, and Ploog rushes it as well. The accompanying narration is more interesting than the shark fight; Conway’s got a peculiar, close first-person angle on it—but it’s neither the werewolf nor Jack narrating. The werewolf doesn’t have the vocabulary, and Jack doesn’t remember all the full moon adventure details. I’m curious if that double-extended narrative distance will ever change.

But for now, I’m just waiting to see what happens with the Darkhold and Terri, but hopefully not forty-something Buck and under-eighteen Lissa (Jack’s sister, who the issue establishes hang out at he and Buck’s pad).

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