blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Werewolf by Night (1972) #13


Has Frank Chiaramonte gotten better at inking Mike Ploog, or am I just so happy to see Ploog pencils, I’ll take whatever I get, inking-wise. The inks cut into some of the pencil’s roundness, making people more angular—Phillip Russell in particular. But the werewolf’s still nice and Ploog-y, plus there are plenty of great page layouts. Ploog’s flexing on the composition.

The story involves Jack again getting captured and held prisoner by someone out to get his werewolf magic (or something related). His captor, once again, has a comely female accomplice who gets sympathetic to Jack, putting herself in danger. And then there’s a monster guy to fight.

With minor adjustments, it’s the same story Werewolf by Night has been doing since the second or third issue. The bad guy—Taboo, an Indian mystic—is even after the Darkhold, which one of the first villains was after, though it got ingloriously destroyed ten issues ago. His pretty lady sidekick is Topaz. She’s the one with the real power; Taboo wants her to use her powers to soul-suck Wolfman Jack and put it into Taboo’s sickly son. Taboo was going to heal his son with the Darkhold twenty years ago, but Jack’s real father stole the book from him.

Or stole it back from him. Jack’s father’s history is very muddled.

Further complicating matters is Jack’s step-father, Phillip Russell, also being one of Taboo’s prisoners. Turns out Taboo hired the Committee to harass Russell on his behalf, all so Taboo could get the Darkhold. Werewolf by Night’s plotting appears to be determined by dice roll and bingo card.

Marv Wolfman’s scripting again. Instead of trying to unravel all the outstanding subplots and make sense of them, he’s bundling them together—the mysterious Committee being reduced to a proxy for Taboo, the Darkhold coming back. Jack has a little character development (he wants to be a stunt man). He’s also semi-racist to his Black neighbor again. While the neighbor’s a dick, to be sure, there’s some major subtext. Not to mention Jack’s just a bro.

No sign of his little sister, Lissa, who ought to be werewolfing out any time. The issue picks up at least a month after the previous, without addressing any outstanding plot points (i.e., also absent Buck now knowing Jack’s a werewolf).

I hope once the book loses Ploog for good, the writing somehow ups the ante to compensate because, otherwise, Werewolf’s going to be a Seventies slog.

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