Werewolf by Night (1972) #14

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Marv Wolfman writes the h-e-double hockey sticks out of this issue. Unfortunately, it’s got a lousy ending as Wolfman gets stuck resolving Jack’s subplot with his step-father, Phillip, in a resolution seemingly intended to conclude the aged arc as quickly as possible. But there are some real highlights, including Jack’s moody romance narration for him and Topaz—who steal a passionate kiss before he heads to a showdown—but the best is the car chase.

Out of nowhere, Wolfman and penciller Mike Ploog do this impromptu California mountain highway car chase. It’s awesome. Since it’s mostly in long shot, Frank Chiaramonte’s inks don’t do it too much disservice either. It’s a shame Chiaramonte seems to know to give expression to the werewolf and the bad guy, Taboo, but everyone else is relatively bland. It’s not the worst Ploog inking; it’s just not… well, it’s not good Ploog inking. It’s just not blithering incompetent.

There’s a lot of plot to the issue, too, something most Werewolf writers have avoided. Wolfman resolves the cliffhanger with a fight scene, gets Jack and Topaz back to his place for some smooching, stern words from sister Lissa, and discovers step-dad Phillip’s been brain-transferred to Taboo’s monster.

So Jack’s got to go back and defeat the monster, which should cure the step-dad. But, little does Jack know, the escape was all part of Taboo’s master plan, leading to some surprises in the second half. Maybe not the most consequential surprises, but Wolfman’s generating new, contained subplots, which is nice to see. Because he writes the heck out of it. Just superb work from Wolfman.

I mean, the wrap-up’s a disappointment on a couple levels, and there are some very repetitive series elements—at one point, I was expecting Jack to get turned to stone again, just like in his second adventure—but it’s still an outstanding issue of Werewolf. The big subplot conclusion—going back to the first issue—is just too slight, too easy.

Because they’ve got to get Jack and Topaz on a plane to catch a train so they can guest star in next month’s Tomb of Dracula, which should be interesting.

I feel like there’s some other unresolved plot thread I’m forgetting but maybe not.

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