Jonathan, son of Kevin:
Characters Appearing: Brother Voodoo, Buck Cowan, Doctor Glitternight, Jeesala, Lissa Russell, Raymond Coker, Topaz, Victor Northrup, Werewolf By Night
Werewolf By Night #38-41
Issue(s): Werewolf By Night #38, Werewolf By Night #39, Werewolf By Night #40, Werewolf By Night #41
In very broad storkes, everything i thought would happen sort of does, but only after another meandering and bewildering multi-part epic that immediately returns all of the supporting cast characters that we said a teary goodbye to last issue and even has the unwanted return of the Amazing Doctor Glitternight. Jack does gain control of his werewolf form, but only through a new contrivance that takes all four of these issues to reach, and when this is all over, we've only got time for the team-up with Iron Man before the series is cancelled. It seems like Marvel had this approach in mind, but Moench couldn't bring himself to get there in a straightforward way, and by the time he did it was too late.
I should say that while the Werewolf series has been dire, i don't know if turning him into a standard super-hero would have been the right approach, commercially or artistically. But since that was the approach they were going for, it's odd how much time was wasted in getting there.
The issues start off with a standard werewolf type story, the type that the series could have used more of, really. It's about a man that has locked himself up in a cabin in the woods with his baby daughter, waiting to fend off an attack by goons hired by his ex-wife's new husband (don't worry about the details, or go ahead and read this guy's convoluted explanation).
The guy sees Jack attacked by wolves and takes him into the cabin, and of course Jack's fear is that he'll turn into a werewolf and maul the guy, but instead the werewolf gets turned on the attackers.
Pretty standard stuff. But straightforward stories about werewolves ripping bad guys' faces off have actually been a rarity around here. Mixed in with that, though, are some bewildering hallucinations.
Other characters start having hallucinations, too, including Raymond Coker...
...and Topaz and Lissa.
My favorite part is Buck going, "Eh, you're probably just having a temporary psychotic episode. No big deal.".
Next issue mercifully rushes the plot forward to just get everyone in the same room.
Not sure how Jack knows Brother Vooodoo.
Anyway, here's a funny sequence.
Now we know why you couldn't say "zombie" in a Marvel comic in the 70s. If you even tried it, the Comic Code Authority would send a zuvembie after you.
Big zo-... er, zuvembie fight!
The fight ends with Coker being taken prisoner. So they have to go to Haiti to rescue him. Except it's a full moon, so how are you going to get Jack on a plane? Brother Voodoo is the answer.
This could have simply been the thing that gave Jack control of his Werewolf form, but we're not there yet (or, again, it could have just been left that way from Belaric Marcosa's spell last issue). But we're getting there.
In Haiti, the specific location they have to go to is of course called Devil's Grotto (something every character comments on; like, c'mon!). They are attacked by zuvembies again and Brother Voodoo has to take his brother's spirit out of Jack to fight them, which causes Jack to revert to Werewolf form. But he finds that he is now semi-consciously in control of the Werewolf.
He can't talk, though, so Topaz has to read his mind so that he can ask questions.
It's weird how we keep going through stages for Jack controlling the Werewolf. We had the ring back in Werewolf By Night #20, then the story last arc, and now this sort of dipping our toes in the water here. Are they trial balloons? Or is it just a series of unrelated contrived circumstances to get some variety into the otherwise mindless main character of the book? I guess in the case of this arc, the slow evolution of the changes are deliberate, but it's still painful.
I also want to point out that Brother Voodoo seems to have some aggressive magical ability in addition to his spirit possession ability.
Years later, in Doctor Strange #48, Dr.Strange will trash talk Brother Voodoo a bit, speculating that he doesn't have any real powers. But he's clearly summoning flames here, which is pretty impressive. This story is possibly the most action i've seen Brother Voodoo involved in, actually, including his own short lived run.
The good guys eventually locate Raymond, who has been transformed back into a werewolf by, yep, the Amazing Doctor Glitternight.
Look at that big floating goofball. Who let him back in a comic book?
We get into the weird metaphysical nonsense with issue #39. Uh, i'll do my best here. The entities that caused Jack and friends to have hallucinations are in a band called Three Who Are All. But they used to be called Five Who Are All, and the Amazing Doctor Glitternight was their lead singer. But Glitternight decided that he'd do better as a solo act. So he split from the Five. And he took with him another member of the band, promising him equal billing in his new act but really hiring him as a session musician with a crappy contract. The remaining Three formed a power trio, and now they want Jack and friends to take care of Glitternight and then mercy-kill the Fourth guy since he can't get out of his contract.
It takes over an issue to explain all this...
...and you'll notice that Werewolf By Night has evolved again. He can talk now. By the end of #39, Jack finds that he can force the changes as well.
I don't know if this revised origin for Glitternight makes him more or less Amazing. I think he's Amazed me as much as is possible at this point.
But i do know that the whole thing just leaves me going, "Uhhhhhhh...?".
Glitternight turns Topaz into a demon thing. He keeps messing with her.
Here's Brother Voodoo being a badass again (to the degree that anyone beating up the Amazing Doctor Glitternight should be considered a badass).
As for the Fourth member of the Who Are Alls, it's this guy.
Alright, i'm done. I can't take any more. Let's skip to the end. Killing "Fire-Eyes" allows the Three Who Are All to permanently grant Jack his ability to control the Werewolf. And you may remember from earlier issues that police lieutenant Victor Northrup had been in Haiti on the trail of Raymond Coker. He finally catches up with everyone at the end of the story, and when he finds out that Jack, not Raymond, is the Werewolf, he decides to give him a pass.
And that's it. It took four issues of absolute nonsense, but you finally have control of Werewolf By Night and are no longer wanted by the law, Jack, freeing you up to try your hand at super-heroing. By the way, you're cancelled in two issues.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Pushed back in publication time a bit to account for the Iron Man guest appearance in the next arc.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Werewolf By Night vol. 2
I'm confused- if the father and son were illusions, does that mean the ex-wife and her boyfriend were illusions too? And why should we care?
Posted by: Michael | January 14, 2015 7:56 PM
I never read that Doctor Strange issue as saying ALL of Brother Voodoo's powers are fake, just some of his tricks.
Posted by: Michael | January 14, 2015 10:23 PM
The title to #39 is taken from the Doors' first album.
FOOM back then did confirm that this book was being relaunched with a superhero direction, but Moench at the time wanted to steer clear of that as much as possible.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 14, 2015 10:32 PM
@Michael: the captions in the last panel with Mack state that Mack was real enough, and presumably so was his story.
However, apparently at some point Jeesala (the ugly witch-type talking with Raymond Coker) took his place and appearance to test Jack.
No, it does not make a whole lot of sense, at least to me.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | January 15, 2015 7:31 AM
I know it's not popular and I don't mean it in any bad way but the truth is the sales are down on this because of the art. Don Perlin has this thing where his characters are stiff and awkward and he is a good storyteller but it's like Dick Ayers and Don Heck. I feel like we can't say anything critical about these old dudes but the truth from your main man from the wasteland is... they just don't seem like the artists you're used to in a Marvel Comic. Maybe theyd be good at Charlton, I don't know. But I'm surprised this is the artwork for a horror comic to be honest
Posted by: Brimstone | January 5, 2016 2:48 AM
I don't think it's fair to blame Perlin entirely for the decline in sales. Moench's writing was HORRIBLE on his non-Shang-Chi stories in the 70s and early 80s. The Incredible Dr. Glitternight?
Posted by: Michael | January 5, 2016 7:53 AM
The big problem with the Werewolf is that he never really had anyone that probably "got him". It was just a horror comic that struck just as the leniency towards horror comics began to emerge but without the luck of something like "Tomb of Dracula" or the actual interesting but underrated stories like with the Living Mummy. (or Frankenstein...prior to coming to the present) It was a medium for some interesting concepts that did emerge (a homosexual protagonist, the Darkhold, Tigra...in a way), but it just needed someone like Wolfman on Dracula to maybe allow for it to last longer instead of just riding a fad.
Posted by: Ataru320 | January 5, 2016 10:59 AM
Ataru I'm confused- who was the homosexual protagonist? Jack is straight.
Posted by: Michael | January 5, 2016 7:59 PM
Michael I think he's referring to fnord's previous observations about Jack's relationship with Buck:
Posted by: Robert | January 5, 2016 8:24 PM
Zuvembies wearing Zubaz taking Zumba.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 17, 2017 11:20 AM
Issue #40 was the first WBN I ever read - this was a few years later, maybe '79 or so. That issue was just drenched in seventies cliches and I loved every panel of it. THIS was a "super hero" comic? Zombies, ghosts, a disco fashion villain named Glitternight, a posse of cosmic beings that I assumed had a lot more previous appearances than they did, AND the "hero" was a werewolf? I could practically hear Blue Oyster Cult or Uriah Heep or Mahogany Rush playing in the background (then again, as I recall the circumstances of reading that issue, it's possible I was actually hearing them).
I've always been drawn to the cosmic and horror fringes of the Marvel U and this was probably the first story I'd seen that combined the two (almost by default, as I think the only previous horror story I'd read was the Dracula/Frankenstein encounter). I again didn't realize how compartmentalized the cosmic entities here were, as I had by this point already read the Avengers/Korvac story where "Michael" spied on Odin, Mephisto, and Eternity and I assumed these folks were part of that whole pantheon of characters.
It would be a long slow road before I went back and read a lot of the seventies monster/horror titles or even the mainstream stuff like Dr. Strange - I didn't even know how weird and awesome the Defenders was. But this story was probably as much the catalyst for me exploring that as anything. So yeah, not so great in hindsight, but it hit all the right beats with me at the time.
Posted by: Dan H. | June 10, 2017 10:49 AM
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