Werewolf by Night (1972) #20

Werewolf by Night  20

I’m not sure Doug Moench read much Werewolf by Night before writing this issue, which has eighteen-year-old Jack Russell walking around talking like a cheap forties gumshoe. Moench also doesn’t seem to know the bad guys kidnapped his sister because she too has the werewolf curse; when Jack goes to rescue her, the bad guy—Baron Thunder—reveals they just want his werewolf blood to make a super soldier serum.

Pardon the expression but, like, what?

Because Moench’s not lazy. He writes a bunch of narration for Jack. Including the werewolf fighting the bad guy for four or five boring pages. Jack’s got a ring to let him control the werewolf—he grabbed it from a rich guy who offered it to Jack’s landlady as a come-on—so he (and Moench) explain why he’s making all the various wrestling moves as the werewolf.

Thunder’s got a scary house on a haunted hill. It looks like a haunted mansion from a cartoon. It’s absurdly silly; penciller Don Perlin works the fight scenes; he’s interested in the fight scenes. They’re boring and not very good, but he’s engaged. The haunted mansion on a hill? Shockingly bad. Even for Perlin and inker Vince Colletta. This issue reads like the book got told to go cheap on the art, and to compensate, they told Moench he could write 300,000 words.

There’s a little with Jack and his werewolf neighbor, Raymond Coker. The cops have it out for Coker—they just happened to have decided the Black werewolf must be the bad one—but there’s also a third werewolf in the mix now, and it’s got something to do with the magic ring.

Even with the tedious fight scene, this issue does seem like Moench is trying to resolve the loose plot threads. Not sure why he changed old lady hit woman Ma Mayhem into a Marvel seventies blonde, but it’s another change. At first, I thought Topaz was back. Nope. Bummer.

Werewolf’s rarely renamed consistent longer than a few issues, and its best days are long gone.

Will Moench do something interesting with it, or will he too fall victim to the curse of the werewolf (By Night)?

It’s too soon to tell, but it’s not looking great.

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