Marvel Spotlight 4, 1972 “Island of the Damned!”

During the 1970s, there were a few different things that were hot commodities. In comics, one of them for sure was horror. Vampires, monsters, demons, mummies, witches, and of course, werewolves! In 1972, Marvel decided to create their own werewolf character that would be not only a creature of destruction, but one of tragedy as well. Jack Russell would turn twenty-one years old, and turn into a werewolf under a full moon from here on out.

Early on, the book centered around Jack trying to figure out why this happened to him. He very quickly realized that a certain book was involved, and that unless he finds The Darkhold, he may never get any answers. In what’s basically a werewolf dropped in the middle of the Island of Dr. Moreau, Jack is confronted by a strange island full of surprises, and by the end of the issue, he’ll be between a rock and a hard place.

In this early second age of horror for Marvel comics, Gerry Conway (writer) is one of the men that was tasked with writing these titles off and on (between his epic Spider-Man run and other superhero titles as well). Not to belittle Conway’s efforts, but Mike Ploog (cover and interior art) was outstanding during this period with his horror work. He had runs on this title/character, Monster of Frankenstein, Man-Thing, and Ghost Rider, and they were all exquisite. The creative team is rounded out by veteran Sam Rosen (letters).

*Note- there was also a lot of input on the early issues of the horror books by Writer/Editor Roy Thomas, and he definitely deserves credit as well.

 

 

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Marvel Team-Up 12, 1973 “Wolf at Bay!”

IS there a video montage out there with Werewolf by Night panels while Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” is playing? If not, could someone get on that asap please? Alright, so October is one of my favorite times of year, simply because it reinvigorates my love of horror comics and gives me renewed energy to blog about them. One of the best from the Bronze Age is most definitely Werewolf by Night. Most of that is thanks to Doug Moench and Don Perlin, but there is also Mike Ploog and a few others that did the hairy side of Jack Russell justice over time.

In this fantastic issue, we see Werewolf by Night and Spider-Man in San Francisco, as the two super-powered characters go at it! Jack is under the sway of Moondark (his first appearance), and maybe with Spidey’s help, he can shake it! Hopefully they can accomplish this before the Werewolf tears Spidey into ribbons!

The credits for this issue are a who’s who from the Bronze Age! Scripted by Len Wein, plot by Gerry Conway, pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Don Perlin, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Charlotte Jetter, and cover by Gil Kane (pencils) and John Romita (inks)!

 

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Giant-Size Werewolf 5, 1975 “The Plunder of Paingloss”

In my time-honored tradition of spotlighting goofball villains, this one is a doosie! When the front cover of a comic book exclaims…”The Peril of Paingloss,” it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re in for something wacky. That said, Werewolf by Night could fight a troupe of clowns and I’d buy it, so maybe I’m not the best measuring stick for this one. Moving on, Jack Russell and his confidant, Buck Cowan, end up embroiled in some mystical mayhem that almost kills the two of them! Yes, by the mighty Paingloss (try to hold back your laughter)!

I didn’t know who the creative team was on this one until I got it home and checked it out. I wasn’t shocked to see the name Doug Moench (writer) in the credits. He did plenty of work on this title and during this period for Marvel. You could always count on a solid script/story with him at the helm. The artist is one that I’ve seen before, maybe once or twice, and Yong Montano (pencils/inks) definitely delivered in this issue. The letterer is another name that doesn’t evoke the Bronze Age feel, but Marcos Pelayo does a fine job. The rest of the cast is the usual bunch of stalwarts in Len Wein (editor), George Roussos (colors), and a wonderful cover by Gil Kane (pencils) and Tom Palmer (inks)! There are a couple of back-ups as well, and one features art by the legendary, Joe Orlando!

 

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Werewolf by Night #17, 1974 “The Behemoth!”

Everyone likes certain comics for a specific reason. The story, the artwork, the characters, and so on. Sometimes it’s as simple as a splash page, as is the case for me and this issue. I enjoy this title from beginning to end, no matter who the creative team happens to be on any particular issue. The work by Mike Ploog is obviously incredible, but by this time, he’d bowed out, and others took the reigns. Speaking of the reigns, in this particular issue, we see Jack and his handler/friend/lover, Topaz, as they’ve bitten off a bit more than they can chew with Baron Thunder! Not only is he the head of the secret group known only as “The Committee,” but he has a new ally on his side and completely under his command—The Behemoth!

Of course people have their favorites when it comes to creators, but I love a few characters so much, I can enjoy them almost all the time, no matter who is behind the steering wheel. It was only four issues long, but “Mischievous” Mike Friedrich (writer) kept the book moving forward. He’s one of those guys that gets lost among the giants of the era, but he certainly did a fine job. The artwork was by veteran “Dapper” Don Perlin (pencils and inks). I’ve always admired his work and when I look deep, I see a man who gave everything he had to an industry that didn’t always treat its creators fairly. Two more of my favorite creators in “Titanic” Tom Orzechowski (letters) and “Genuine” George Roussos (colors) round out the solid team that gave us this eerie read! A book needs a cover, and if you’re going to do it right, get Gil “Sugar” Kane and “Fearless” Frank Giacoia for the job!

 

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Marvel Spotlight #4, 1972 “Island of the Damned!”

Although there’s no specific reference in the comic book itself, Marvel Spotlight #4 (1972) is definitely an homage to the H.G. Wells book “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” That fantastic story has been adapted to the big screen a few times, with varying results, but in this case, it was a resounding success. The issue is only the third appearance of this character (Jack Russell/ the werewolf), and his supporting cast, but you already feel attached to him and his troubled life even in that short amount of time. The story follows Jack to an island, almost like the very same one in the Wells book.

If there was ever any doubt about the talent of Gerry Conway (and just for Spider-Man, there shouldn’t be), read his horror work, and you’ll be hard-pressed to not be impressed by his work. As if that wasn’t enough of a selling point, you get the absolutely eerie artwork of Mike Ploog, that is nothing short of a visual feast! Toss in the letters of comic book mainstay, Sam Rosen, and you’ve got one heckuva comic book!

 

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Werewolf by Night #36, 1975 “Images of Death”

It’s time once again, to bark at the moon! Another tale in the twisted life of Jack Russell is upon us, and this time, we’ll see a beheading, a hanging, skeletons, rats, and a squad of ghost cops! Well, and just to be clear, we’ll see a werewolf as well! I love necromancer type characters, and virtually all magic practitioners in comic books. Why this is, I have no idea, but the sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange is my all-time favorite. The villain in this story, is a man named Belaric Marcosa. The dude wasn’t around very long, but he was a great villain for Werewolf by Night. And besides, the dude was so cool, he had two rubies imbedded in his two front teeth!

The awesome villain was created by Doug Moench, and Don Perlin. These two guys (especially Perlin) get very little credit for their work on this title, but if you really take a long look at their run, it’s chocked full of weirdo characters that made this book so good. Don’t just forsake everything past the early issues, because if you do, you will be doing a disservice to yourself! Written by Doug Moench, art by Don Perlin, colors by George Roussos, letters by Debra James, and edited by Marv Wolfman! Enjoy!

 

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Werewolf by Night #12, 1973 “Cry Monster”

It’s time for some werewolf action! There are very few books that can hang with Werewolf by Night (vol. 1) in the all-time greats of horror comics from the 1970’s (The Tomb of Dracula being the best). This title started out with some fantastic creators on it. The names Ploog, Conway, Wolfman, Kane, and others, brought this character to life and gave him a world to play in, and share with other great characters from the Marvel Universe, as well.  Later (issue #20 or so), you had a different creative team take the reins, and put a spin on the book that was unexpected, but was a ton of fun! That team was Doug Moench and Don Perlin! This issue was a battle between the Werewolf by Night, Jack Russell, and a strange nemesis called “The Hangman.” This kooky guy is all sorts of crazy, and believe it or not, he’s crazy enough to keep the werewolf at bay for a while!

The creative team on this one was nothing short of spectacular. You get ‘Marvelous’ Marv Wolfman writing, Pencils by the great Gil Kane (RIP), inks by the underrated Don Perlin, Mr. Tom Orzechowski lettering, and Linda Lessmann on colors! Of course, we have Roy ‘The Boy’ Thomas editing, as was the norm in the early 1970’s. Sometimes I wonder how some of these creators from that era had time to sleep! Check out this incredible cover by John Romita! Well, without further interruption, let’s take a look at some Werewolf by Night! (Insert crazy howl here)! Enjoy!

 

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Marvel Premiere #28, 1976 “The Legion of Monsters”

As we roll on through October, I thought it would be a good idea to spotlight one of the most iconic covers of the series, Marvel Premiere. Of course, you had many great covers, but this one really stood out from the crowd (they’ve even made it into a t-shirt!). I’ll admit right out of the gate, that the story isn’t the greatest, but it still has a certain cool factor thanks to the four characters that belong to this crazy group. Man-Thing, Werewolf By Night, Morbius, and Ghost Rider, all have a unique background, and mixing them together was a great idea, albeit one that could have also backfired. Luckily for us, the readers, it didn’t backfire, but gave us a groovy little story that shows brawls between these characters, plus all together against ‘Starseed.”

Written by Bill Mantlo (ROM, The Micronauts), pencils by Frank Robbins (The Invaders, Morbius), Steve Gan on inks, Janice Cohen on colors, letters by Gaspar and Karen Mantlo, edited by ‘Marvelous’ Marv Wolfman, and cover by Nick Cardy! When you see this cover, you’ll light up with glee, because just seeing those four characters together is like getting a present on Christmas morning…or Halloween night, in this case I guess!

 

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Marvel Team-Up #93, 1980 “Rags to Riches”

You can try to contain him, but you cannot even hope to stop the Tatterdemalion! Sorry for giving away the villain…as if the cover already didn’t! There were many goofy or one-off villains from the Silver and Bronze Ages, but there’s no doubt that one of my favorites is this guy! Created by the artistic genius of Tom Sutton (RIP), and Gerry Conway, this quirky character didn’t make many appearances, but when he did, it was hilarious! You cannot help but laugh, when a character’s profile page has statements like this in it…”He is an expert tap dancer, and a highly proficient bottle-cap collector” or my favorite…”He wears a long scarf, which is tipped with lead weights, as a weapon” or the coup de grâce…”Due to his lack of proper hygiene habits, the Tatterdemalion emits a harsh offensive odor at all times.” Folks, when you have abilities/powers like that, everyone fears you.

The story was written by Steven Grant, and although I don’t own many stories written by him, I do know that he’s a capable writer that also wrote some good Avengers stories back in the 1970’s/80’s. The pencils are by the exceptional Tom Sutton and the late, great Carmine Infantino, and I love Sutton’s pencils on Dr. Strange from the Bronze Age, as well as his inks on many other books. Speaking of inks, the incomparable Jim Mooney (RIP), inked this issue, and you get the consistency he always brought to the game! Colors by Ben Sean, letters by Rick Parker, and edited by Denny O’Neil! The awesome cover is by Don Perlin and Al Milgrom! Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night, “Cat’s Jazz Club”, and the Tatterdemalion…what else could be asked for in a comic book?

 

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Werewolf by Night #40, 1976 “Souls in Darkness”

Wow, if you can find another decade that had as many off-beat (but crazy cool) characters created in it, please, let me know. In this issue, we see the return of Doctor Glitternight. This wild character is from the minds of Doug Moench and Don Perlin, and their run had some really zany moments that most people can’t even dream of trying to write, let alone make any sense of, but they did it wonderfully!

In this issue, Moench (writing) and Perlin (pencils & inks?), show us how to get down in Haiti with Brother Voodoo! The team (Brother Voodoo, Werewolf by Night, and Topaz) are trying to save the life of Raymond Coker. In doing so, Topaz gets turned into a demon, and tries to kill everybody! You get werewolves, zombies, demons, a sorcerer, and Brother Voodoo to cap it all off! It seems (by the credits) that Perlin inked himself in this issue, and sometimes when artists that normally do a lot of pencils ink themselves, it doesn’t turn out for the best for some reason. But in this case, it looks pretty solid. Actually, the first splash page kind of reminds me  Gene Colan (check it out and see if I’m wrong!). Credits also include – Ed Hannigan & Tom Palmer (cover), Debra James (letters), Janice Cohen (colors), and Marvelous Marv Wolfman (editing).

 

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