Werewolf by Night (1972) #15

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I’d like to say there are a few pages where Frank Chiarmonte’s inks don’t mess up Mike Ploog’s pencils. I can’t because there’s probably only a page and a half, and not sequentially. Werewolf by Night versus Tomb of Dracula comes to its conclusion here, a better comic than the first installment, which had writer Marv Wolfman (who’s been writing both books) doing a Werewolf issue for a Dracula reader. This finish reads like a jumping-on point; the Tomb of Dracula readers need to be convinced to stay with Werewolf.

There is a bunch of Werewolf housekeeping, though. We get the secret origin of the Russoff family werewolf curse, which involves Dracula. It does not involve–breaking series continuity–a literal curse from Satan. No religiosity here, just a plain angry dude with a stake and a comely lass with a secret. It’s like an old horror comic, only perfunctorily done. Though at least a couple panels are some of the better art in the issue. Not enough of them, but the werewolf reveal is good.

Though, can’t forget… Wolfman has werewolves biting people to change them like vampires. I can’t imagine they’re going to keep that detail going for long. Though there is once again mention of Jack’s sister Lissa maybe getting the curse, which the comic’s been ignoring for a while.

Dracula’s got his own subplot about getting Jack’s dad’s diary; apparently, there are even more powerful spells in it than in the Darkhold, which I don’t think this issue even mentions. Maybe once. But Drac’s after the “Book of Second Sins” or something, which is a weird subtitle for the dad’s diary.

Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing also guest star; they’ve got their rental helicopter and are after Dracula. Ploog and Chiarmonte’s Frank Drake looks like Jack Russell with different hair. Rachel Van Helsing’s scar becomes her defining feature here, though maybe they wanted to keep her straight from the other blonde lady, Topaz.

Topaz’s Jack’s accessory this issue. I hope that situation improves.

Ploog and Chiarmonte do get to do a “Dracula attacks girl on countryside” panel, which Tomb of Dracula did fairly regularly for its first half dozen issues (ish). It’s a fun nod to the trope. Then there’s the cartoonish Dracula bat, which I feel Ploog would’ve done wonders with, inking himself.

The ending’s contrived, but so’s the entire issue; it fits. It’s fine. It’s not great, but it’s much better than the first installment. When Wolfman’s writing’s good, it’s good. When it’s not, it’s just mediocre, never worse.

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