Werewolf by Night (1972) #5

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Artist Mike Ploog is back to inking himself, and it is glorious from the first page. There’s even a recap of the previous issue, so everyone can see what they missed not having Ploog ink himself. The recap also burns some pages for writer Len Wein, who’s got the somewhat inglorious task of picking up the series on a downturn. Wein’s scripting is fairly indistinguishable from previous writer (and Werewolf creator alongside Ploog) Gerry Conway.

The action begins with Jack reverted to human form and heading back to collect sister Lissa from captivity. Unsurprisingly, he can’t just rescue her because the bad guy from the last issue has an evil brother, but this one’s a scientist who wants someone murdered. In exchange for the werewolf doing the deed, brother bad guy will cure Lissa’s lycanthropy. I’d be remiss not to mention—because it was a silly development and shouldn’t be forgotten—in Werewolf’s current canon, Jack and Lissa are Satanically cursed; they become werewolves because Satan wills it. Where the heck is Mephisto in this continuity?

Anyway.

Wein’s got no time for Satanic curses, so Jack’s going to go kill some guy for the scientist villain who’ll then cure Lissa. Lissa is unconscious this entire issue; she was unconscious most of last issue. No one writing Werewolf’s got time for her.

Speaking of time, this issue takes place on the fourth full moon in the monthly sequence but calls it the third. They made a mistake a couple issues ago doubling up full moons—they skipped the second night straight to the third—but they roll it back here. Jack missed the second night but had two third nights in a row. I guess it’s good they’re back on track, though I wish they’d move the story along instead of doing immediate sequels to previous issues. Every villain’s got a brother or a daughter to continue the action the very next day, while human Jack spends most of the daytime unconscious or off-page.

No character development here… just glorious action, both werewolf and human. Wolfman Jack’s prey is in a fortified mansion with militarized guards, meaning it’s werewolf versus machine guns, but also Jack hightailing it on a motorcycle at one point. And since it’s 100% Ploog, it’s fantastic even as it gets more and more absurd.

Given all this book’s got going for it—so far—is phenomenal Ploog art or the promise of phenomenal Ploog art… it’s concerning knowing he won’t be around much longer. Maybe Wein’s just finishing old business, and now the comic can get moving.

More likely, it’ll just be a series of contrived villain-of-the-month stories, but one can hope.

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