Much like Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf by Night is an absolute classic horror comic book series that fans of the genre should, at the very least, explore for several issues. And while others have tried, no one writes werewolf stories quite like comic book legend Gerry Conway. So if you’ve had the itch to read some fur-covered horror stories, you’re in the right place.
So, what’s Werewolf By Night: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 about? From the publisher:
Jack Russell stars in tales to make you howl, as Marvel’s very own Werewolf! Learn how Jack became one of the grooviest ghoulies of the seventies in this classic collection of his earliest adventures! Afflicted with his family’s curse, Jack’s on a search for answers – could they lie in the terrible tome known as the Darkhold? But Jack’s quest is fraught with danger -from mad monks to big game hunters to a traveling freak show! Then there’s the terror of Tatterdemalion, the horror of Hangman and the torment of Taboo! But few encounters can compare with Krogg, the lurker from beyond – except, maybe, a Marvel Team-Up with Spider-Man…and a supernatural showdown with Dracula himself!
Werewolf By Night: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 collects Marvel Spotlight (1971) #2-4, Werewolf By Night (1972) #1-15, Marvel Team-Up (1972) #12, and Tomb of Dracula (1972).
As I began to say earlier, writer Gerry Conway is a legend in this industry. Having written for both Marvel and DC, Conway has worked on some amazing projects throughout the years. The same guy not only scripted the death of Gwen Stacy, but he also co-created the Punisher. Hell, Conway first began writing Amazing Spider-Man at just nineteen-years-old! Why am I telling you all this? Gerry Conway wrote almost everything found in Werewolf By Night: The Complete Collection Vol. 1; the man is a great writer, and I want you to know that in picking this mammoth collection up, you’ll be in good hands.
One aspect of Conway’s writing that is worth mentioning — as it relates to Werewolf by Night — is his focus on inner-turmoil and the unavoidable struggles that plague mankind. Being a werewolf is a curse. There’s nothing romantic about a fur-covered man-beast; hell, even the transformation from man to wolf is terrifying. Conway constantly reminds readers of this throughout the collection–he showcases Jack Russell’s (the werewolf) human side and how it is negatively affected by his curse. Every full moon is a struggle for Jack, and the struggles are sensational.
Artist Mike Ploog — another comic book legend — illustrates the majority of the issues found in this book, and he too manages to connect with Jack Russell’s human side and the torment brought on by the curse. Ploog, who worked under yet another icon, Will Eisner, fills each panel with emotion and intensity.
Interestingly enough, readers who pick up Werewolf By Night: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 can watch Ploog’s style develop throughout the collection as he continues to draw Jack/the Werewolf. As the collection progresses, the Werewolf design becomes more refined as, perhaps, Ploog became more comfortable — more focused — with the beast’s design.
Aside from all of the talent in this book — aside from all of the depth — Werewolf By Night: The Complete Collection Vol. 1 is an incredibly fun and entertaining read. Jack Russell takes on a slew of awesome villains(?) and unworldly creatures like Krogg, the Lurker from Beyond, and teams-up with/runs into Spider-Man and Dracula. There’s a comic in this collection for every type of horror-loving comic book reader.