blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Werewolf by Night (1972) #7


Apparently, somewhere in between issues, Jack sat down with sister Lissa, and they had the “your brother’s a wolfman” talk because she knows it in this issue and it’s old hat. If it were a better comic, I might be disappointed, but so long as they don’t pair Lissa off with forty-something Buck Cowan… I’m not going to complain.

Not when writer Len Wein’s referring to the one Black character as a “Black giant.” It all feels very colonial. And very Christian; in his narration, which Wein writes with incredible detail and verbosity, Jack describes something like Moses’s cane separating the Red Sea, and you’ve got to hope they were smoking something.

The issue opens with lions versus werewolf—circus lions, which Jack explains in the narration means they aren’t as fierce as his surfer boy werewolf—only Wolfman Jack doesn’t beat them in a fight; instead, it’s the appearance of the Swami. He calms everyone down—and reveals he can mind-read for realsies—and it’s cliffhanger resolved. Jack sleeps off the shaggy dog syndrome, then spends the next day in a hypnotic trance until sister Lissa and buddy Buck arrive to save him.

Sadly, they’re no match for the Swami’s hypnotism, so it will be up to the werewolf to sort things out.

The Swami’s plan involves the Bloodstone, which will end up being a Captain America MacGuffin in the eighties—I’m not sure on the continuity. It’s just here to give the Swami an excuse to do a blood sacrifice, as well as to explain why the carnival flunkies work for him. The Bloodstone leads to incredible wealth somehow. It’s not important. Wein overwrites the narration so much and slowing down on it just reveals wanting (or problematic) content; why bother putting energy into parsing it all.

The art’s okay. Jim Mooney isn’t a good inker for Mike Ploog’s pencils, but he’s also not the worst.

The conclusion’s so perfunctory and bland—the Swami’s not some great villain—you’d think Wein was finishing off an arc he hadn’t started, but he wrote the last issue too.

I’m trying to think if there’s anything else notable. Maybe the way Wein writes Jack’s experience of the werewolf’s adventures—but it seems unlikely his approach (Jack’s more lucid observing the werewolf than his own existence) will carry over to the inevitable next writer.

Though, I guess Jack’s also never not hypnotized when he’s human in the issue. It’s a mess not worth unraveling. Werewolf by Night reads like a joyless churn for everyone involved.

And I think the series has used the same villain resolution before, which isn’t great given it’s only ten issues in (counting the Marvel Spotlight).

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