I’m already regretting this statement, but I’m glad to have hit the Don Perlin era of Werewolf by Night. No more wondering if Mike Ploog will get an okay inker this time (because he won’t); now it’s just Perlin enthusiastically hacking it out, page after page, including a kind of good double-page spread. Despite his wanting skills, Perlin’s visibly thrilled to be drawing this book.
At least on his first issue.
There’s some really bad art, though. You could make a drinking game out of how Perlin draws faces.
Mike Friedrich’s scripting again. The action picks up immediately following the previous issue’s finish, which had the werewolf unable to save a modern-day Hunchback of Notre Dame from falling. The Paris cops—all familiar with werewolf hunting—see Wolfman Jack in the cathedral and are out to get him.
There’s more about how Topaz can’t control him anymore, but she always manages just enough to get him to morning. Despite knowing how to hunt loup-garou, the Paris coppers don’t notice shirtless, barefoot, wearing the werewolf’s pants Jack Russell walking out with Topaz. Also, they abandon Topaz to the werewolf at one point (not knowing she’s the girlfriend).
Then they get back to L.A., where all is happy with the Russell family until sister Lissa explains it’s her half birthday and she’s only got six months (six issues?) until she turns into a werewolf too.
Until the action-packed conclusion, where the werewolf fights a giant monster, the comic’s a series of editors notes referring readers to previous issues. Not just Werewolf by Night,Tomb of Dracula, and Marvel Spotlight, you’ve also got to be reading Dracula Lives. Did Marvel sell back issues in the seventies?
Two things are missing from this section of the comic, as Jack pours over ancient texts trying to uncover a secret to save Lissa while having adventures with his neighbors. Friedrich does not write Jack as a low-key racist toward his Black neighbor, which is a nice change from before. But for the month between the opening resolution and the closing battle, Jack doesn’t seem to be spending any time with his girlfriend Topaz or panicking sister Lissa.
Even for a seventies Marvel comic, it doesn’t work. Probably because Jack’s narrating.
The finish promises even more changes to the book. I’m resigned to Werewolf by Night, but not in a bad way.