Werewolf By Night #16-19
Issue(s): Werewolf By Night #16, Werewolf By Night #17, Werewolf By Night #18, Werewolf By Night #19
We start in France so that, after last issue's Dracula vs. Wolfman fight, we can have another monster mash, this time with the Hunchback of Notre Dame. On that front, he's a little disappointing. The Hunchback isn't actually living at the Notre Dame cathedral, he just happens to wind up there. And he's not an ordinary hunchback. He claims to actually be a mutant, with super strength and invulnerability.
I guess that was necessary to make it possible for him to survive a fight with Werewolf By Night.
Friedrich continues the "that's no mask!" comments that we've been seeing from bystanders throughout this series.
When we make it to Notre Dame, Friedrich provides us with a little informational blurb.
Comics are for learning! I don't know why we never got similar blurbs about, say, the George Washington Bridge during Gwen Stacy's death scene or the Empire State Building during Inferno.
Friedrich's Werewolf seems to be more of a thinker than previous iterations. I first thought this might be due to the influence of Topaz and was leading towards Jack gaining control of his wolf form, but we're not headed in that direction yet. The Werewolf always did think more than i think Werewolves ought to, and i think with Friedrich he's not intentionally making it seem like a development. I think it's just over-scripting.
We eventually get to the final fight with the Hunchback.
Topaz touches the Hunchback's mind and realizes that he's suffered a lot of persecution during his life, so she tries to get the Werewolf to not kill him. It doesn't quite work; the Werewolf throws him off the building, changes his mind at the last second and tries to catch him...
...but fails, and the Hunchback drops to his death.
The beginning of issue #16 has Topaz and Jack giving the French police the slip before flying back to Los Angeles. When they get home, the big concern is that Jack's sister Lissa is now six months away from her eighteenth birthday. The possibility of her becoming a werewolf will feature into several upcoming stories as we get closer. This is also an interesting case for Marvel's sliding timescale; Jack's transformations are (approximately) once a month, and Lissa has six months before she turns eighteen. So, in this book anyway, it's harder to dismiss the temporal references.
But Lissa's transformation isn't of immediate concern. Right now we're getting further insight into the Committee. On the one hand, Friedrich goes in a very cartoonish direction, introducing their leader, Baron Thunder (and hey, isn't that the Black Panther's symbol?).
On the other hand, Friedrich has the characters dismiss the silly and ill-informed economic motive that was supposedly behind the Committee's previous efforts.
But in the end i am going to have to go with "cartoonish", since Baron Thunder introduces his Behemoth to send after the Werewolf.
But first, "weeks" pass (or maybe i shouldn't put it in quotes based on what i said above), and Jack tries to talk to his suspicious building mate, Raymond Coker, who at this point is pretty obviously a werewolf himself.
With that avenue of possible help closed to him, Jack turns to his actor friend Clary Winter, who (stay with me here) knows the producer Mr. Gabriel that directs Jack to Geraldo Kabel, the lawyer to the deceased hunter/actor Joshua Kane, whose also deceased brother Luther (spelled "Luthor" here) claimed to be a scientist that could cure lycanthropy. During the course of this trail, Jack also inquires into the news of Louis Belski, another actor who went crazy in Dracula Lives #4 (which Jack had nothing to do with but i guess knows about due to his Hollywood connections, or maybe it was on the news). We'll see more of Belski in a bit.
For now, all of this investigation has caused Jack to (characteristically) forget about the fact that it's his time of the month. Luckily Topaz hasn't forgotten, and she tracks him down and does her best to control him.
Topaz was originally very powerful. In her origin story she destroyed guard towers and did all sorts of magical stuff, and since then she's been able to control the Werewolf and even resist Dracula. But now she's getting weaker. I guess having a powerful sorceress around could have detracted from the basic concept of this book, both because she could control - or at least calm - the Werewolf and because she could have demanded equal billing. But i think it kinda sucks to see her depowered as opposed to just writing her out of the series (which will also happen, at least for a while).
In any event, it doesn't matter for now, because the Behemoth shows up.
Werewolf By Night manages to slice off one of its hands, but it keeps coming.
When both of its hands are removed, Baron Thunder has the creature withdraw.
It's at this point that Topaz decides to leave...
...and then police lieutenant Hackett shows up.
Hackett arrives to find Jack's apartment trashed due to the Werewolf/Behemoth fight, with giant stone hands laying around on the floor...
...but before Hackett can say anything, the "cleaning lady" knocks him out.
The cleaning lady identifies herself as Ma Mayhem. She's been sent by the Committee to capture the Werewolf. And she's armed with silver dust...
...and a silver whip.
But their fight is interrupted by the arrival of Raymond Coker, who, in the spirit of 1970s comic titles, we should maybe call Black Werewolf By Night.
The two Werewolves alternate between teaming-up and fighting each other.
Once in the woods, the two Werewolves fight for "hours", with Coker fleeing before the sun rises. Unlike Jack, Coker is much more in control of his Werewolf form.
Jack returns home to find that while he was away, Ma Mayhem kidnapped Lissa, and now the Committee is demanding that he surrender himself in exchange for her life.
Issue #18 also includes the image below, which seems to have been a two page spread in the original comic.
For my Essentials reprint it looks like they flipped it sideways to fit it onto one page. It seems like something that Marvel might also have used as a jokey postcard or sticker or something.
A trend that i've been noticing in this book is that the issues tend to open with a splash panel that is a flashforward or flashback, i guess to get some action into the series early. So for example issue #18 actually started with a flashback to Jack's father Gregory Russoff as a Werewolf. And issue #19 begins with the best out-of-context scene ever: Werewolf By Night fighting Dracula and another vampire on the moon!
This will turn out to not be nearly as awesome as it seems, so enjoy it for now as we jump back in time to Jack's post-Werewolf confrontation with Raymond Coker.
This blows up into a fist fight until Jack gets Raymond to understand that he doesn't have the control over his werewolf form that Coker has. But even after that, Raymond refuses to work with him towards a cure. However, Raymond follows Jack as he gets back to the Joshua Kane (etc.) investigation. Clary Winter leads Jack to a chest that was owned by Joshua, and its contents cause Jack to transform into a Werewolf in front of Clary. She attributes it to the chest.
The next time i am fleeing a werewolf, i promise to shout out loud, "I've got to get help -- though Lord knows where!".
Meanwhile, we again hear about Louis Belski, and then we see Belski and actress Liza Pyne waking up in the morgue and killing Gary Stone (these are all characters from Dracula Lives #4, but a little recap is given in this issue)).
Belski played Dracula in "Mallet Studios" (a stand in for real life Hammer Film Productions), which is why he's in a Dracula costume, band by now you've probably guessed that "Werewolf vs. Dracula on the moon" is really Werewolf vs. Belski on a Hollywood film set. Raymond Coker shows up again too.
As before, Raymond temporarily teams up with Jack.
But the lack of intelligence of Jack's Werewolf makes the team-up difficult.
When it's over, with both vampires impaled, the two Werewolves transform back to human form, and they begin looking through Kane's treasure chest. They find a book called Libro del Malditos (Book of the Damned?), which states that the only cure for lycanthropy is to kill another werewolf during a full moon.
With that, Mike Friedrich's short run comes to an end, with Doug Moench taking over next issue. As is typically the case with the Werewolf book, it's a frantic four issues, starting in France for a Hunchback fight before giving us a Behemoth from the Committee and then a fight with another Werewolf and then the vampires. And the pace of things leaves Lissa a prisoner of the Committee, which, means that she's going to be a captive for a while (especially since we have to fit in Giant-Size Creatures #1). A lot of goofy stuff here - Baron Thunder, Ma Mayhem - and other things i don't love, like the quick dismissal of Topaz, but the introduction of another, smarter, Werewolf was intriguing.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This arc begins the evening after Jack and Topaz's visit to Transylvania (with enough time having passed for them to get to Paris). Then "weeks" pass before the fight with the Behemoth. Werewolf By Night next appears in Giant-Size Creatures #1 (based both on the MCP and the placement of the story in Essentials; the Giant-Size issue will also be referenced in issue #20, but only in a vague way). Werewolf By Night #20 takes place while Jack is able to transform without it being a full moon, but since we have to fit in Giant-Size Creatures #1, Lissa remains a prisoner of the Committee for over a month.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Werewolf By Night vol. 1
Inbound References (4): show
I picked up #19 in a back-issue bin at my LCS years ago, attracted by the werewolf vs Dracula idea. It was a very worn, well-read copy. After reading it I couldn't help but wonder who could have liked this so much they read it over and over. Maybe if I were stranded on a desert island and this was the only thing I had to read. But even then I would probably just use it for TP.
Posted by: Robert | January 7, 2015 3:08 PM
The funny part is Jack doesn't realize that there's a fourth full moon. It's amazing how human beings were able to calculate the lunar cycle since the beginning of history but Jack can't just pick up a calendar.Between this and going after the chest on the night of a full moon with Clary, it's a miracle Jack never killed an innocent during this series.
Posted by: Michael | January 7, 2015 8:46 PM
Libra del Malditos can probably be translated as "Book of the Accursed," which fits with the werewolf curse.
Posted by: Walter Lason | January 9, 2015 1:41 AM
"Libro del malditos" is a wrong sentence. In Spanish (although we should say "Castellano", for there is no such thing as "Spanish language") there are four articles words, El, la (for singular words), Los, Las (for plural words). If Malditos is a plural word, the correct sentence should be Libro de LOS Malditos. "Book of the Accursed," is correct, Walter, but I would say that "Book of the damned" is more accurate...
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | January 9, 2015 5:07 AM
Looking at Baron Thunder, the first thing that comes to mind is: so Bert finally got driven around the bend by Ernie and became fat and evil.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 9, 2015 9:44 PM
I always remember in #16 after the Hunchback falls to his death the line "And for the first time, a werewolf cried", and showing tears staining the fur under his eyes. Also, going from Mike Ploog to Don Perlin is truly a penthouse-to-outhouse scenario!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 16, 2017 12:23 AM
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