Werewolf By Night #22-26
Issue(s): Werewolf By Night #22, Werewolf By Night #23, Werewolf By Night #24, Werewolf By Night #25, Werewolf By Night #26
I kind of had higher hopes for Doug Moench's work since at his best Moench is pretty damn good and these issues are concurrent with the beginning of Moench's Master of Kung Fu run. But Moench's work is actually pretty uneven, and after the previous two deck clearing issues we finally get into some new stories and find them to be mostly nonsense.
On the positive side, Moench does have Jack continuing to try to contain his werewolf side. We saw this last issue as well, and with that attempt having failed, Jack and his quasi-boyfriend Buck Cowan (despite the change in artists, there's still a lot of meaningful arm gripping and of course shirtlessness going on)...
...try again, this time with reinforced windows.
If you're thinking that this, plus the smashed cars and everything else, must cost Buck an arm and a leg, that's better than the alternative, which is when the Werewolf manages to escape anyway...
...and nearly costs Buck his intestines.
That's actually the other positive thing i like about Moench's Werewolf, though. He's less cuddly, more likely to tear you a new hole, than the Werewolf of earlier issues.
But now for the nonsense. It starts with a villain called Atlas, who is a former Hollywood actor who is now insane and seeking vengeance on the people that were involved in the accident that disfigured him.
We'll learn that Buck was the screenwriter for the play that Atlas was hurt in (which i guess explains how Buck has so much money), and that Atlas was an arrogant jerk even before his accident, and that his accident was actually his own fault since he vainly insisted on performing dangerous stunts despite the fact that the studio had hired a stuntman. But in the meantime it's multiple fights between Werewolf By Night and Atlas, who as far as i know has no superpowers and therefore no business being able to beat up a werewolf with the "jawbone of an ass".
Atlas eventually dies with his face landing in fresh concrete on the Hollywood Sidewalk of the Stars, which is apparently all he ever wanted.
The cop in the above sequence is Lieutenant Victor Northrup, who has replaced Lt. Hackett as the cop that is investigating the LA werewolf. I guess Hackett was too close to discovering that Jack was the werewolf, so it made sense that he had to be killed off. But having a cop investigating the werewolf is still necessary drama.
Anyway, Atlas is only the first of our goofy villains for this full moon cycle. We meet the next one after Jack is evicted from the apartment he'd been living in since Werewolf By Night #11. It seems like more deck cleaning, but we will actually see these characters again.
And now on to our villain. It's a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde stand in, which in my opinion is pretty dumb since Marvel has already got one of those, the awesome Mr. Hyde himself. I'd love to see him go up against Werewolf By Night. Instead we have another guy with the same basic origin.
Actually, this version has a little bit of the Henry Pym/Janet Van Dyne relationship mixed in to his origin, which is pretty funny.
Ok, i have to admit that Henry Pym is smarter than this guy. Surely Pym wouldn't have let his "essence of evil" and "essence of goodness" jars unlabelled on the counter. I can totally imagine him just going ahead and swigging one of them, though, scientific methodology be damned.
This guy, actual name Dr. Winston Redditch becomes, well, depraved.
Ha ha ha! Oh Doug Moench! Really? I think i'm going to have to change my name to Underwheylmed after this.
So it's Werewolf By Night vs. our low rent Mr. Hyde (i can't bring myself to call him Deprayve).
During their first encounter, the police arrive and trap the Werewolf in a net.
I said earlier that Moench's Werewolf is more ferocious, but somehow Lt. Northrup manages to get pulled into the net with the Werewolf and come out unscathed.
No idea how Northrup survived that.
The Werewolf escapes to have a second fight with, ugh, Deprayve before the fake Hyde turns back into human form. The fight is observed by a mystery villain, but we don't find out right away who it is. First a month passes, and Jack and Buck visit Redditch in the hospital and convince him to give up his "good" formula to try to cure Jack's lycanthropy. But when Jack goes to Redditch's house, he's attacked by the mystery villain, who turns out to be the Hangman.
The Hangman is kind of like Atlas; i have no idea how he survives fights with a werewolf. But i guess after the net encounter with Lt. Northrup, my opinion of werewolves is obviously higher than the creators of this series.
The Werewolf actually flees from his fight with the Hangman.
Hangman was really there to kill Redditch anyway. He hunts him down at the hospital.
One thing that's kind of funny, especially if you look at the direction the comments went on the Hangman's first appearance in Werewolf By Night #11-12, is that the Hangman doesn't consider himself an anti-hero, and in fact despises the idea of anti-heroes.
Eventually we have the madness of Hangman, Deprayve, and the Werewolf all fighting each other...
...ending with the surely amusing sight for the cops of seeing all three run out of a movie theater. They catch the Hangman, who is arguably the nuttiest of the three.
Oh, and Redditch's goodness potion does nothing for Jack's lycanthropy. The issue just kind of ends, with Redditch's Hyde problems clearing up with no explanation on the second to last panel.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's said that police lieutenant Hackett, who was killed last issue, has been missing for a month. A month passes during the course of these issues between the Werewolf's escape from the police nets (and a second fight with Deprayve) and his fight with the Hangman. Giant-Size Werewolf By Night #3 takes place next, since it reintroduces Topaz to the cast prior to her appearance in issue #27.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Werewolf By Night vol. 2
Inbound References (3): showBuck Cowan, Hangman, Lissa Russell, Philip Russell, Tina Sands, Victor Northrup, Werewolf By Night
I'm not sure what the point of killing Hackett and replacing him with Northrup was, since Moench ends Northrup's arc by having him decide to keep Jack's secret- there's no reason that couldn't have been done with Hackett. I also wonder where Friedrich was going with him- doesn't one of the cops in issue 19 say something about his "beastly nature"?
Posted by: Michael | January 8, 2015 7:53 PM
The Hangman's comments were very much in line with contemporary WW2 and John Wayne films at the time. A tag line from Wayne's "The Green Berets" went something like "So you don't believe in heroes anymore?"
I think Jack Kirby's Atlas appeared in DC's First Issue Special about the same time. This Atlas seems to be twins with the Toxic Avenger.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 9, 2015 10:02 PM
I know this was supposed to be a horror comic, but the scene where these three guys chase each other was truly hilarious!!!
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | January 12, 2015 10:10 AM
I recently purchased the Werewolf By Night Omnibus (at a huge bargain, I might add),and have begun perusing through it in no particular order (at least initially). Read issue #22, and noticed that none other than Bill Mantlo is credited as colorist. Checked out Wikipedia and saw he spent a period of about nine months as a colorist before switching to writing. Judging from many reviews and critiques of Mantlo's scripting here and elsewhere,I'd say there are those who wished he remained a colorist.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 31, 2017 12:22 AM
James Brown is shown holding issue #23 during the documentary "When We Were Kings". No context given, but I guess he was a fan?
Posted by: Phil | January 5, 2018 9:15 PM
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