Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at pop culture mammoth Marvel Comics’ long(ish) running horror series Werewolf by Night.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #1 (September 1972)
Title: Eye of the Beholder
Villains: Marlene Blackgar, whose horrible gaze turns people to stone, and her monstrous creation Strug
Comment: After a few issue tryout in Marvel Spotlight, 18 year old Jack Russell (really Russoff), the titular character, got his own title. He was the son of a European nobleman and the latest inheritor of the family’s curse of lycanthropy. A curse he sought a cure for.
His adventures were often like a comic book version of Paul Naschy’s Waldemar Daninsky werewolf movies from Spain.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #2 (November 1972)
Title: The Hunter and the Hunted
Villain: Mark Cephalos, a dying inventor wanting to steal the werewolf’s life-force.
Comment: The werewolf battles surfers, police, a shark and the aforementioned mad inventor while Jack’s girlfriend Terri (no last name ever given since she wasn’t around long) helps him seek a cure for the family curse.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #5 (May 1973)
Title: A Life for a Death
Villain: Luther Kane, wealthy brother of werewolf hunter Joshua Kane
Comment: The werewolf goes up against the brother of the werewolf hunter slain by the beast in his previous adventure.
A lunar eclipse temporarily turns Jack back into human form at a very convenient moment.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #6 (June 1973)
Title: Carnival of Fear
Villains: Mr Calliope’s Carnival
Comment: A traveling carnival full of freaks and supernatural monsters features a mystic who wants to use the blood of a werewolf to activate a bloodstone which will lead him to a treasure.
This bloodstone is not the same one lodged in the chest of the 1970s Marvel Comics monster hunter called Ulysses Bloodstone. Nor the one later used by his daughter Elsa Bloodstone.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #8 (August 1973)
Title: The Lurker Behind the Door
Villain: Krogg the demonspawn
Comment: Jack Russell inadvertently frees a demonic creature called Krogg, which has been imprisoned in a cave in California. (?)
Naturally the werewolf clashes with Krogg and emerges triumphant.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #10 (October 1973)
Title: The Secret of Sarnak
Villains: The Committee, a cabal of ruthless businessmen who seek out supernatural beasts to use to do their killing for them.
Comment: The Committee will frequently plague Jack Russell, his lupine alter ego AND the future Marvel Comics character called Moon Knight.
The Sarnak of the title was a hireling of the Committee who fell to the werewolf this issue. Jack’s sister Lissa is depicted on the cover.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #12 (December 1973)
Title: Cry Werewolf
Villain: The Hangman, a masked madman who used a scythe plus a noose to kill people who preyed on women, then would imprison those women in his lair to “keep them safe.”
Comment: The Hangman was sort of a cross between a deranged vigilante, a slasher and a run of the mill stalker or sexual predator.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #13 (January 1974)
Title: His Name is Taboo
Villain: The sorceror called Taboo
Comment: Taboo’s reluctant female familiar is Topaz, a blonde white woman in the original Werewolf by Night series but later retconned into a woman from India. Topaz becomes Jack’s new love interest and her mystic powers help him in his adventures.
Taboo and Topaz resurrect Taboo’s monstrous son Algon (shown fighting the werewolf on this cover) with the life-force of Jack Russell’s evil stepfather Philip.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #14 (February 1974)
Title: Lo, the Monster Strikes
Villains: Taboo and Algon
Comment: In this story the werewolf defeats Algon, Taboo is crushed to death and Topaz, who sided with Jack against her evil master, joins the regular cast of characters.
Jack also learns that his stepfather is really his uncle – his late father’s brother – and that it wasn’t him who caused the death of Jack’s mother but the Committee.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #16 (April 1974)
Title: Death in the Cathedral
Villain: The (latest) Hunchback of Notre Dame
Comment: While Jack and Topaz are passing through Paris, the werewolf winds up clashing with the latest incarnation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame Cathedral.
Even more of a Paul Naschy movie feel than usual this time around.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #18 (June 1974)
Title: Murder by Moonlight
Villain: Raymond Coker, a fellow werewolf
Comment: Jack and his furry alter ego wind up in a battle royal with Raymond Coker, a fellow sufferer of the curse of lycanthropy.
The Committee is back, too, hiring a witch called Mother Mayhem. (Actually “Ma Mayhem” but that’s just plain too silly.)
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #19 (July 1974)
Title: Vampires on the Moon
Villains: Two vampires named Louis Belski and Liza Payne
Comment: The werewolf clashes with two vampires at a Hollywood movie studio. Their running fight takes them onto various movie sets around the studio.
As the title would indicate, this story is a partial salute to the kind of B movies which generations have loved. A lunar setting is one of the movie sets the monsters fight on, as depicted on the cover.
GIANT-SIZE WEREWOLF Vol 1 #2 (October 1974)
Title: The Frankenstein Monster Meets Werewolf by Night
Villains: The Frankenstein Monster and the Brotherhood of Baal
Comment: The evil machinations of the cult called the Brotherhood of Baal pit the werewolf against the Frankenstein Monster. After fighting each other the two monsters team up to defeat the Brotherhood.
This was at a time when Marvel was trying out a series about Frankenstein’s Monster to go with its many other horror titles.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #27 (March 1975)
Title: The Amazing Doctor Glitternight
Villain: The sorceror called Dr Glitternight (no relation to Glitternight.com)
Comment: An old rival of Topaz’s former master Taboo surfaces. Called Dr Glitternight, he taps into Topaz’s powers to help him create a monstrous servitor.
Needless to say the werewolf battles that creation, as seen on the cover.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #28 (April 1975)
Title: The Darkness From Glitternight
Villains: Dr Glitternight and the ghost of Taboo
Comment: Jack’s sister Lissa Russell’s 18th birthday occurs during the ongoing supernatural war between Dr Glitternight and the ghost of Taboo.
On the night of the full moon, when she starts to undergo her very first transformation into a werewolf, dueling eldritch energies from Dr Glitternight and Taboo combine with the moonlight to turn her into a new creature far deadlier than a werewolf.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #29 (May 1975)
Title: A Sister Born of Hell
Villains: The Lissa Russell Werebeast and Dr Glitternight
Comment: A horrific battle is waged between the werewolf and his transformed sister. Topaz and Jack’s author friend Buck Cowan manage to capture Dr Glitternight in hopes of getting him to cure Lissa.
This multi-part story would have made an ideal 2nd movie in a Werewolf by Night film series if Marvel had introduced their horror figures into their cinematic universe.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #30 (June 1975)
Title: Red Slash Across Midnight
Villains: Dr Glitternight and the Lissa Russell werebeast
Comment: Dr Glitternight escapes captivity, taking Lissa with him. The next time she transforms into her odd werebeast form he controls her via a mystic soul-chain around her neck and unleashes her on the werewolf and Topaz.
In the end Dr Glitternight is killed by the werewolf, and Lissa – due to the atypical nature of the beast she kept turning into – is cured of the Russoff family curse for good.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #33 (September 1975)
Title: Wolf-Beast vs Moon Knight
Villains: The Committee and their hireling Moon Knight
Comment: Last issue and this one made up the very first story featuring the Marvel character called Moon Knight. His origin and powers would undergo many retcons in the years ahead, but in these early appearances he was a mercenary named Marc Spector who was hired by the Committee to capture the Jack Russell Terrier, I mean werewolf.
To that end they gave him the Moon Knight uniform, including silver cestus-gloves and silver crescent-moon projectiles.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #34 (October 1975)
Title: Not All the Shades of Death, Nor Evil’s Majesty
Villain: Belaric Marcosa and his vile Marcosa House
Comment: Jack, Topaz, Lissa and others mount an expedition to uncover the secrets of Marcosa House, the haunted mansion of an undead figure whose depravity and crimes were legendary.
Obviously this haunted house of “Belaric Marcosa” is a nod to Belasco House from the novel and movie The Legend of Hell House.
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Vol 1 #36 (January 1976)
Title: Marcosa in Death
Villain: Belaric Marcosa and his vile Marcosa House
Comment: This third part of one of the most memorable Werewolf by Night stories ever was very impressive and featured many horrific moments. Unfortunately, as eagle-eyed readers will have noticed, the title had lapsed back to bi-monthly status instead of monthly status due to poor sales.
The fourth and final chapter of the Marcosa House saga – titled The End – was originally set to be the very last story of the werewolf. Unfortunately from the storytelling angle, sales revived enough that the title got a few-issue reprieve, so the Marcosa House finale was robbed of its finality and any potential impact. The cover was more like a superhero story than a horror tale, which is why it did not make this list of Halloweenish covers.
At any rate, the sacrifice of finality in the Marcosa House storyline was basically for nothing, since the series petered out to a blah cancellation a few issues later anyway.
FOR MY LOOK AT FIVE INTRIGUING MARVEL COMICS HORROR CHARACTERS CLICK HERE