Mike Friedrich writes, adding his name to the list of seventies Marvel writers who tried to make hash out of Werewolf by Night with limited success. The issue credits have some enthusiasm for pairing two Mikes (Friedrich and Ploog), but then Frank Chiaramonte’s the inker, so how much can they really do? The most Ploog the issue ever gets is probably Topaz; Chiaramonte leaves her alone the most. I think it’s Ploog’s last issue, which makes the watered-down werewolf even more disappointing.
And then the villain.
This issue's villain is a mutant; his mutation contorts his spine and gives him super-strong skin. He begins the issue hijacking a French airliner; Jack and Topaz are connecting through Paris, done with their Tomb of Dracula crossover and ready to get back to Los Angeles. Except then there’s a fourth full moon (which the comic doesn’t explain at all, unfortunately). So Jack changes, running amok in the airport, then getting into a pissing contest with the hijacked airliner.
Thanks to the hijacker attacking the werewolf when it boards the plane, the werewolf decides he’s the bad guy. Topaz tries to control Wolfman Jack, which the bad guy observes, so he kidnaps Topaz and, because it’s a Hunchback of Notre Dame thing, literally takes her to the cathedral as a hostage.
The werewolf goes to save her, surprising bit of emotion in the finish, and scene.
Friedrich doesn’t do well with the Jack narration. He does well with some other things, ranging from the historical detail—hence why the fourth full moon begged explanation—and his willingness to put the werewolf in everyday situations. It’s a plane hijacking guest starring Werewolf by Night. It works way better than it should.
The villain’s a little flat throughout, but Friedrich has an arc for him. The groundwork’s there.
I’d thought Ploog was done after the Dracula crossover (anything to save another Chiaramonte inking), and this issue appears to be it. Unfortunately, art-wise, it’s a wanting finish, even with the usual caveats.
Overall, the whole thing’s wanting; there are just some solid moves from Friedrich, even if they don’t end up working out.