Werewolf By Night #3-5
Issue(s): Werewolf By Night #3, Werewolf By Night #4, Werewolf By Night #5
You'll notice that Jack had been planning to take a sleeping pill. I guess that's how he's been handling his transformations during the "off" months that we don't see him in action. I'm surprised a single pill is enough to do anything; maybe he also chains himself up somewhere or something? In any event, since he has to respond to Father Joquez' call, he doesn't get to take the pill, and so the predictable happens.
Whoops! Werewolves can't drive cars, so the car (which belonged to Buck Cowan) gets trashed. But Werewolf By Night continues to make his way to Joquez' place. He arrives to find Father Joquez possessed by an Aelfric, the Mad Monk.
Aelfric tells his story. It turns out that he wrote the original scrolls that formed the basis of the Darkhold. He was originally banished for heresy.
It turned out that he was immune to swords, and had the power to disintegrate warriors.
Peasants eventually managed to burn him at the stake, but his spirit lived on in the scrolls, which were also indestructible (Aelfric attributes this to "Satan" but knowing later revelations about the Darkhold that's not entirely accurate). The scrolls made their way through history and wound up in the hands of a still unnamed Baron Gregory Russoff, Jack's biological father.
Russoff was the first to bind the scrolls into a book, which became the Darkhold.
Aelfric now wants to take control of Jack.
Meanwhile, Jack's sister Lissa overhears her step-father Philip talking to someone about giving them money from the death of his wife, and she assumes that it means that Philip was behind her death.
She goes to tell Jack about it. He's not at Buck's place, of course, but she does find a note that Jack left for Buck, and follows him to Father Joquez's place. She makes it there despite the fact that the police have cordoned off the area due to a deadly mist, but she gets captured by Aelfric.
Aelfric then summons the awesome Dragonus to protect him.
Aelfric tells Werewolf By Night that, unlike his father, he has a "great capacity for evil" and he tries to woo the Werewolf into working with him. And when that doesn't work, he tries to weaken Jack's hold on the Werewolf through a fight with Dragonus.
And it seems like that would have worked if Dragonus wasn't a good enough fighter to prevent Werewolf By Night from killing him. Instead Dragonus accidentally charges into Aelfric, dispelling him and returning Father Joquez to his body in time for him to die regretting that he never really believed that Satan existed. The Darkhold is apparently destroyed during these events.
Still on this second night, Werewolf By Night grabs Lissa and charges off into the woods. Lissa is able to sense that the Werewolf is really Jack.
But when the Werewolf forces himself to get away from her (Jack doesn't trust his werewolf side not to kill her), she winds up being captured by a guy named Joshua Kane who is interested in playing the Werewolf version of the Most Dangerous Game. Jack is also brought to Kane's place when he turns back into human form.
To save Lissa, Jack is forced to play the game.
But in the end, it's revealed that Joshua plays these games because he hates the fear that lives in his heart, and he winds up giving himself a heart attack.
Notice the Dangerous Game movie stuff in the room where Kane dies, a second acknowledgment, after the title of the story, of where this plot was coming from.
It's a weird shift going from the cool background on the Darkhold to the really corny Joshua Kane.
Gerry Conway is replaced by Len Wein beginning with issue #5, but Conway will return again for issues #9-10. Despite the writer switch, the story continues pretty much directly, or at least builds on the plot of the previous issue. Jack Russell staggers back to Joshua Kale's home to rescue his sister only to find that Joshua's brother Luther is waiting for him.
Luther claims to be a scientist that can cure lycanthropy. It's too late for Jack since he's already developed into a full blown werewolf, but Luther says that he can prevent Lissa from ever becoming a werewolf. In return, all Jack has to do is kill a rival of Luther's, a man named Judson. The thought of Marvel putting out a She-Wolf By Night book is enough to convince Jack to compromise his morals and agree to Luther's terms.
So Jack points himself towards Luther's rival as the third night of the full moon approaches, and as the Werewolf he fights his way through the rival's dogs and guards.
But it turns out that Judson is just a senile old man.
Conveniently, an eclipse of the moon causes Jack to revert to human form, allowing him to run away to avoid killing the old man. He returns to Luther Kane and, as he transforms back into wolf form, winds up killing him and his bodyguard instead.
Well, technically, Luther's bodyguard kills Luther. But either way, no cure for Lissa (if there ever was one), but she is freed by the Werewolf.
The book becomes monthly beginning with issue #6, possibly a sign of the books' sales strength.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Issue #3 says that Jack has been staying at Buck's place for "several months". The Aelfric/Dragonus and Kale Brother plots are two separate stories but since the second story continues directly from the first while still in the same moon cycle, i've kept them together.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
The ending is really confusing. First, it seems like Kane died of a heart attack but in issue 6, a detective talks about Kane being murdered. If Kane had a heart attack, why would the cops talk about Kane being murdered. Secondly, how did the bear statue fall on Kane? If the idea is that Kane's gunshots knocked the bear over, shouldn't it have fallen AWAY from Kane? Maybe Jack pushed the bear on Kane? But then wouldn't Jack's fingerprints be all over the statue?
Posted by: Michael | December 24, 2014 6:36 PM
Hmmm, how can we talk Wizkids into adding Dragonus into a future Marvel HeroClix set?
Posted by: Erik Robbins | December 26, 2014 12:35 AM
Makes you wonder, Michael, could the ending of issue 4 have been the inspiration for the polar bear-related ending of Road House?
Posted by: Cringe Worthy | December 28, 2014 1:04 PM
I've always stayed away from Werewolf by night because the forced hipness in Jack's dialougue in guest appearances always put me off. But you are making this series sound interesting (whether or not you intend to:-)
Posted by: kveto | December 29, 2014 4:08 PM
I will say the art and layout of that Judson page ("here doggie doggie") is pretty cool. Is tha Ploog inking himself or is that Chiaramonte?
Posted by: Jeff | February 23, 2016 2:19 PM
That scan is from issue #5, with Ploog inking himself.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 23, 2016 2:24 PM
This chronology is definitely a trip down memory lane! I can see in previous years the handful of Marvel titles I bought or read, and now I'm reaching the point where I dipped my toe in the Marvel pool. Werewolf By Night, it seems, was the first Marvel title we actually followed, and that was mostly my little brother's doing.
Joshua Kane "corny"? Maybe so, but we thought he was great. After WWBN #4, we didn't play tag or hide-and-seek in the back yard . . . we played Joshua Kane. (Which consists of chasing each other yelling things like "Yew cain't run from me forever, Bo'! I'm Joshua Kane! YA HEAR ME, BO'? I'M JOSHUA KAAAANE!!")
Posted by: Mike W. | March 14, 2016 9:17 PM
Mike W., that's awesome.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 15, 2016 8:08 AM
Issue #3 features the first instance of Jack responding to danger by driving a convertible on the night of a full moon, totaling the car after the transformation. His insurance premiums must be a bitch! Hope Buck had the proper coverage! Changing the subject, Ploog's close-ups of Wolfie's mug are pretty damned awesome, IMHO.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 19, 2017 10:46 PM
This story reveals that Jack Russell has several perfectly valid reasons to change his surname from that of his wicked step-father, Philip Russell, to that of his evil biological father, Gregory Russoff. I know I would.
Posted by: Holt | January 20, 2018 10:21 PM
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