blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Werewolf by Night (1972) #31

Wbn31This issue does something beyond what I was expecting from Werewolf by Night. It surprised me. Writer Doug Moench—with artist Don Perlin co-plotting—actually surprised me. Now, they couch that surprise in some bad writing, but still. I didn’t know Werewolf had any surprises left in it.

Though, I suppose the issue even opens with a surprise—Moench and Perlin have turned Jack’s little sister, Lissa, now eighteen and apparently not a werewolf (or were-demon) anymore, into a homely buzzkill a la Jan Brady. Jack and Topaz want to take her skiing, but she wants to stay home and do homework. What a nerd.

We’ll soon learn this ski trip is the day before the full moon, meaning they intentionally planned their recreation as close to Jack’s monthly lycanthropic outbreak as possible. They’re going with Buck, who wants to introduce everyone to his new girlfriend. Lissa’s surprised he’s got a girlfriend, which is kind of good since most writers on the book before Moench had Lissa hanging around forty-something Buck way too much. Not anymore, she’s got homework, and he’s got a young widow with a daughter. Nice ready-made family there, Mr. Cowan.

They’re all going skiing. The issue’s cold open is Wolfman Jack about to kill the little kid.

Now, there’s some bad writing in the issue. First, there’s Jack’s werewolf narration, which is just frustratingly pointless by now, and then there’s the cop who’s going to Haiti to hunt Raymond Coker for werewolfing while Black. Then there’s Raymond down in Haiti, meeting up with a strangely white mystic woman.

But nothing compares to the little kid’s dialogue. Moench hasn’t exactly exhibited a great ear for dialogue in Werewolf—other than making sure Jack’s a jackass—but, wow, is that dialogue on the kid bad. You’re just begging for the werewolf to eat her.

Except the werewolf’s not hungry? He’s hunting for the sport.

Moench continues to rid the series of existing continuity; Jack’s inability as the werewolf to hurt his own friends and family is entirely gone now, something the last couple issues strongly implied. However, it’s more explicit here. It’s even a change from how Moench started writing the book.

But it does mean he can surprise, and surprise, he does.

It’s a heck of a compelling read, but probably only if you’ve been through the last thirty-plus Werewolf adventures.

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