blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Werewolf by Night (1972) #11


It took Marvel until Werewolf #11 to get Marv Wolfman writing the book. Just the credit alone is worth it, which they seem to get—the credit reads: “finally a Wolfman written by a Wolfman.” Wolfman does get to create a new villain—The Hangman; I’m pretty sure he goes on to more in Marvel. The Hangman’s a fascist vigilante who goes around with a noose and scythe, killing bad guys.

Oh, he also kidnaps all the women he saves, taking them down to his sewer lair. Presumably, a different sewer liar than the last villain in Werewolf. Thank goodness L.A.’s so big.

Gil Kane and Tom Sutton do the art; Kane penciling, Sutton inking. Wolfman Jack Russell is great. The rest varies from okay to good. Sutton inks Kane’s faces wrong. At their best, Sutton’s inks feel like they’re bundling and intensifying Kane’s pencils. At the inks’ worst… well, Sutton takes too much out of the faces. He flattens too much and leaves the eyes and mouth floating. It’d be okay a couple times, but it’s most times.

The issue opens not with Jack or the werewolf but with Jack’s kidnapped step-father, Phillip Russell. It’s a torture scene. The shadowy group of evil white men—I think the Council but so many of these comics had them—is willing to forgive Russell’s still unrevealed transgressions if he’ll just give them his stepson. We found out last issue the bad guys know Jack’s a werewolf. Also, last time they wanted Jack’s younger sister, Lissa, who hasn’t become a werewolf yet.

Russell won’t give Jack up, so they have to keep torturing him. It’s weird to have some dad getting tortured in a Bond villain lair but… fine. What’s weirder is how writer Wolfman does a bunch of work on the running subplots. The comic introduced them way back in its Marvel Spotlight days, then forgot about them until a few issues ago when original writer Gerry Conway returned. Conway lined some pieces up, and now Wolfman’s doing the finishing touches?

I don’t know if Werewolf needed a more constant writer, but it definitely needed better plotting. There’s decompressed storytelling, then there’s taking two years to get to a basic reveal.

Wolfman also gets to send Jack out on his own; he has a big scene telling Buck and Lissa he’s moving out on his own (he’s got his trust fund). Given we’ve seen Buck and Jack hanging out half a scene in ten issues, it’s not the last episode of “Friends.” Then there’s the on-the-nose moment where the Hangman sees Buck and Lissa together and is like, that old man better not be messing with that teenager.

There are a few good plot points opened up for next issue; Buck finally sees the werewolf, there’s the big cliffhanger with Hangman, and Phillip’s still kidnapped. But waiting ten issues for anything whatsoever to happen with the character arcs is way too long.

Even for the seventies.

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