Werewolf By Night #6-8
Issue(s): Werewolf By Night #6, Werewolf By Night #7, Werewolf By Night #8
So that leaves us with a standard "captured by a traveling freakshow" story for the first two issues of this arc. Before that, though, the Moondark error actually distracted me from what will turn out to be a somewhat more important scene decades later. The opening pages of issue #6 show Jack in Werewolf form (once again having failed to restrain himself,or possibly not even having considered to do so) and getting into an altercation with some truckers.
The incident appears to be insignificant. After all, Werewolf By Night only knocked Howie silly, even if your lying eyes made it look like a disembowelment. But werewolf lore says that anyone attacked by a werewolf runs the risk of becoming one, and years later in a Marvel Comics Presents story we'll find that did happen with some of these truckers.
For now, though, the incident is only relevant because it was observed by our swami of the month, whose name is Rhiva.
The swami has a bloodstone (as far as i know, no relation to the one possessed by Ulysses), and the Werewolf is the key to activating it.
Jack Russell, his sister Lissa, and their friend Buck Cowan wind up stopping at the swami's carnival, and Jack winds up getting hypnotized and captured. Lissa and Buck, accustomed to Jack's random disappearances, are a little slow to realize that something is wrong.
The addition of the hypnotized Jack to the circus, meanwhile, is not appreciated by the dwarf lion tamer named, er, Midge.
The strongman Elmo has to repeatedly stop Midge from torturing Jack.
Jack's transformation is put on display for the rubes...
...but making sideshow money was not the point of capturing him. Rhiva was originally a Nepalese telepath....
...who later acquired the bloodstone gem.
However, it turns out that Rhiva was only "super-normal", not "super-natural", and he therefore was not able to activate the gem. So he began collecting circus freaks, hoping one of them would be "super-natural".
It's worth noting that at this point we haven't seen any evidence that this book takes place in the Marvel universe. But the idea that Rhiva is basically a mutant telepath and yet not "super-natural" is interesting. In any event, werewolves definitely qualify as super-natural, so that's why Rhiva wanted him.
Lissa and Buck eventually start looking for Jack, and wind up also getting captured for their troubles. These issues earn their cover prices by dressing up a man named "Buck" as "the hideous Chicken-Man". Buck Buck Buck!
Since i was still thinking that Rhiva would eventually become Moondark, and because he's got a "Bloodstone", i tried to take extra care to understand his origin and the origin and purpose of the stone. In actuality, I'm pretty sure it can all be safely ignored, but just in case, here's the origin of the stone.
It's all moot, though, because good old Elmo stops Rhiva from sacrificing the Werewolf, and it all falls apart from there.
The Werewolf escapes and Rhiva dies in a fire.
Issue #8, which is illustrated by Werner Roth and Paul Reinman and looks pretty antiquated compared to Ploog's issues, begins directly after the fire at the circus, but is otherwise an unrelated story. Poor Jack Russell just deals with a lot of crazy stuff. The previous arc had, within the span of the three days of the full moon, a fight with an ancient evil monk and then two crazy werewolf hunting brothers. This arc has the swami story and then goes directly into an unrelated story about an ancient evil demon. I guess we can take comfort in the fact that some months Jack has uneventful transformations where he just roams the streets of Los Angeles and terrifies truckers.
Something that i have a lot of trouble getting over is the fact that the Werewolf is treated sympathetically. At the beginning of issue #8, we have him finding some campers cooking meat, and getting confused because the humans want to shoot him for taking it.
Excepting the fact that the Werewolf tries to kill the campers once they attack him (which is admittedly a fairly big exception), this is really a Hulk trope. The Werewolf is a persecuted, misunderstood monster just trying to get by in a world he never made. It's very different than my (pre-Twilight) understanding of Werewolves, where they are usually mindless killing machines with no remorse. I can't imagine Lon Chaney or, say, the werewolf of Curse of the Werewolf only deciding to kill campers once they won't share their food. I also can't really imagine those werewolves being affected by a non-silver bullet rifle shot.
In any event, that's all just set up to get Jack Russell ready to take refuge in a cave the next day.
At this point, Jack has seen enough insane supernatural stuff that he's got no excuse for what he does. He finds a heavy door sealed shut and locked tight in the cave, and he opens it.
I'd have hoped Jack might have seen the locked door as a kind of inspiration, like maybe i should get myself a heavy door with a lock, so i don't go inadvertently transforming truckers into werewolves. At a minimum, i'd have hoped Jack might say, "Hey, maybe someone sealed up this door for a reason." But no, not Jack.
If you noticed that rabbit in the first panel above, yes, Jack has picked up a bunny companion. That will turn out to be important.
Jack immediately declares the room behind the door to be "empty" before noticing the ominous skeleton of a man holding a diary.
The diary says that the man was Amos Treach, a warlock that summoned a demon named Krogg in hopes of making it his servant. But the demon turned on Amos, as they do.
Jack doesn't see any demons, so he immediately declares that Amos must have "had some vivid imagination", and so he goes outside for a nap, sleeping the day away until moonrise.
To repeat that: Jack conveniently finds a heavy door in a cave, but goes to sleep outside until nightfall when he turns into a werewolf.
The good news is that Krogg is around to keep the Werewolf from menacing any more truckers or campers.
And the awesome bit is this: Krogg is actually non-corporeal. When Jack first opened the cave door, Krogg tried to possess him, but Jack's wolf spirit prevented it. So Krogg wound up possessing the bunny rabbit instead. So this fight is Werewolf By Night vs. a demonically possessed rabbit.
Unfortunately, those campers come back, and their rifles are less effective against Krogg, so they get et.
In the final battle, Krogg is seemingly killed in a cave-in.
But in fact there is still an evil bunny loose in the world.
I'm compiling a list of Marvel's evil rabbits at my She-Hulk #9-12 entry.
These issues also introduce police lieutenant Lou Hackett, who is convinced that a werewolf stalks Los Angeles.
Hackett shows up at Jack's step-father Philip's house, after Philip gets off the phone with his mysterious creditors.
A lot of 70s madness in these issues. We've (temporarily) lost the Darkhold as a continuing thread in this series, but the mystery of Philip Russell and the addition of Lou Hackett give us something more long term. In the meantime, it's evil swamis and demonic bunnies for us.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The incident with the truckers begins on the third night of a full moon, and that takes place three weeks prior to the swami story.
Werewolf By Night will meet the real Moondark in Marvel Team-Up #12 after this arc.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Werewolf By Night vol. 1
The problem with the revelation that the truckers got turned into werewolves is that it raises the questions of why the heroes and villains that Jack wounded over the years never got turned into werewoLves.
Posted by: Michael | January 4, 2015 2:15 PM
"way down upon the Sawmi Rihva, far, far from home...."
Posted by: kveto | January 8, 2015 9:32 AM
Posted by: Cecil | August 11, 2015 4:12 AM
It says Kaman-Ru has no heirs but Adrian Toomes is clearly a descendant of his.
Posted by: Robert | January 5, 2016 8:50 PM
Lt. Hackett later turns out to be a bad guy, and he becomes a werewolf himself (totally conscious of his state, so he does evil on purpose). Maybe, wanting to catch Jack so badly, he "tilts" evidence to making the Werewolf sound so bad the cops spend more time chasing him. Thus Kane was "murdered".
I always wanted to see more of Krogg -- I thought it never happened because he was too much like the Wendigo (down to his appetite). I would have loved to have seen Jack Russell (or someone) encounter a bunny and have it turn into Krogg!
And, heck, even Jack couldn't expect every locked door to have some demonic being behind it!
Posted by: Mike W. | March 15, 2016 9:08 PM
@Fnord, For issue #8, Werner Roth is credited as guest artist. Thought you might like to know and include him in the credits.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 1, 2017 4:07 PM
Never mind, fnord. Saw where you brought it up later. My apologies.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 1, 2017 4:11 PM
But i did miss listing him in the credits. Thanks Brian.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 1, 2017 5:15 PM
Looking at the cover to WBN #8, one could expect a thought balloon over the Werewolf's head saying "The white furry one... must have eaten... the atomic wings!" And since there was a "white rabbit" in the story, when Jack asked what was wrong with it, the obvious answer would be "Go ask Alice..."
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 25, 2017 12:25 AM
Completely agree with Cecil on his assessment of this series. Though I would add that once Ploog bolted to work with Ralph Bakshi and various other Hollywood projects that followed, Tom Sutton would have been the ideal choice to fill the artist's chair (the letterer's as well if he were so inclined).
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 25, 2017 12:33 AM
Krogg is actually an agreeable sort of summoned demon in the Marvel Universe. He thanks you for freeing him, he regrets having to kill you... seriously, Krogg's thoughtfulness makes him stand out!
Posted by: Wis | January 16, 2018 5:07 PM
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