blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Werewolf by Night (1972) #33

Wbn33It’s a lackluster but not bad Werewolf by Night, which is one hell of a compliment, but what else are you going to do with this book. Writer Doug Moench finally resolves the mysterious Committee out to get Jack Russell since the first issue. Or at least by the third issue. They hired Moon Knight to deliver him, promising $10,000 in U.S. greenbacks, then make Moon Knight wait until human Jack wolfs out. Will mercenary Moon Knight let the Committee turn Wolfman Jack into a relentless killer, probably starting with the Committee’s latest captives—Jack’s best girl, Topaz, and his little sister, Lisa.

For a thirty-three issue plus story arc (Marvel Spotlight and Giant-Sizes), the Committee resolution is a bunch of bumbling capitalists confused how step one: werewolf doesn’t lead to step three: profit. I don’t even think the lead one has a name. He’s just the head of the organization who’s been behind every bad thing to happen to Jack since… they killed his mom, didn’t they?

Anyway. Moench’s ready to be done with them.

He’s also apparently done with Lissa being a werewolf. She very definitely doesn’t turn this issue (I think there’s the implication the Committee knows she should be changing too, yet doesn’t cage her). Again, Moench’s ready to be done with a lot.

Sadly, he’s clearing the decks for his worse subplots. Like Raymond Coker in Haiti hunting zombies. Marvel’s added a “cultural insensitivity” to new releases of the issue, but it’s unclear if they’re talking about the characterization of the voodoo priestess and Coker’s Haitian relations or if they’re talking about the LAPD cop telling the Haitian cop he’s worthless and poor.

Either way, it’s nice once the scene’s over. Apparently, Coker is going to fight a zombie of his grandfather with the racist LAPD cop come to Haiti to kill him. I thought the cop was a werewolf now. I’ve lost count of all Werewolf’s cops. There are either two or three. One became a werewolf. I’m sure it’ll matter lots.

There is some exceptionally bad writing and editing in this sequence (and not just the characterizations). Coker’s niece sees zombie great-grandfather or whatever, who died thirty-two years ago. The niece is a kid. Sure, it could be from photographs, but it doesn’t play like it.

So that subplot actually has three separate scenes, not poorly assembled for brevity, just… problematic and lazy.

Then Moench checks in on Buck in the hospital. I forgot Jack almost killed him, and then Moench immediately rolled it back, including all the emotional heft. But checking in on bad subplots without doing anything bad is a wash.

Plus, mixing up the bad isn’t the worst move. The Buck subplot’s bad because it’s narratively craven, and the Coker subplot’s bad because it’s problematic and thin. But neither of them is obnoxious like Moon Knight. Moon Knight’s sucks the life out of the page. And Werewolf’s still got art by Don and Howard Perlin. It doesn’t have much life on the page (though there aren’t any staggeringly bad panels this issue).

The issue’s a cop-out, but… at least the comic’s operating within its limitations. It doesn’t aim high; it doesn’t fall too low. It’s fine. For Moench, Perlin, and Perlin Werewolf by Night anyway.

2 responses to “Werewolf by Night (1972) #33”

  1. Vernon W

    You know, I was addicted to this odd comic when I was in grade school. Despite its logical failings, the typical Marvel plots that never seemed to resolve satisfactorily, the really bad art by Don Perlin. But I still came back, month after month, not expecting it to get better, but that I was interested. All these freaky characters that had no logical sense still interacting just to keep the plot moving. Granted, Marvel was at the state that they were on the cusp of being no. 1, and putting out an ever increasing amount of books on a monthly basis, just to conquer their no. 1 competition. Still, I read them almost religiously, dying to know what happens to these characters month to month. Thanks for recapping them now.

    Just so you know, the monthly Marvel facsimile edition out this week is a reprinting of this issue, since Moon Knight is still hot, and his appearance in the the Marvel tv Halloween special is still paying dividends.

    Strangely, I still hold this book in my memory with a longing and a sense of benevolence.

    1. Exactly. It’s that Marvel soap opera magic.

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