Frank Bolle’s not the best inker for Mike Ploog’s pencils, but he’s far from the worst. This issue’s got some fantastic panels, even with Bolle muting the Ploog faces. Most of the art’s at least good, if not better, with only one wanting page when writer Len Wein introduces the cop who’s figured out there’s a werewolf on the loose. But the cop’s only a tease for later. Instead, the issue’s all about an evil circus swami kidnapping Jack so the show can have a real, live werewolf.
The issue starts with an unrelated action sequence; Wolfman Jack versus truckers (back when they were unionized). It’s a bit of a page killer, something to get the werewolf in Werewolf by Night as soon as possible. There’s no connection to last issue—other than when the cops talk about the events—but when Jack’s sister, Lissa, shows up, she’s apparently forgotten she found out her brother was a werewolf and she’d be turning someday too.
However, she at least isn’t paired off romantically with Jack’s roommate and bestie Buck Cowan, who’s in his forties at least. Lissa’s not yet eighteen. I’m just waiting for that icky to hit.
After the opening werewolf action, set on the last night of the full moon, Wein jumps ahead to the next one, though Jack isn’t preparing for it because, if he did, there couldn’t be a comic book. He’s always got to be taken vaguely by surprise the moon gets full every month.
He, Lissa, and Buck are on a day trip to San Diego, where they come across the circus. The swami immediately hypnotizes Jack to make him docile enough for kidnapping. Lissa and Buck disappear from the story at this point, with Buck telling Lissa her brother probably just hitched back to L.A. out of boredom. The cop scene’s next and seems like it’d be a missing persons report.
There’s a little introduction to Jack and the circus; the second tier bad guy is the dwarf lion tamer who resents having a werewolf around; the good guy is a gentle giant who doesn’t let the lion tamer abuse hypnotized Jack. But once the full moon rises, there’s no way to keep the werewolf under control, and the whole circus has to get in on the fight.
The beginning’s a little rocky, with the art carrying the water, but the eventual roaming circus chase and fight is good. Wein doesn’t overwrite the narration as much previous writer Gerry Conway did.
It’s fine. For a seventies Marvel horror book, it’s totally fine.
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