The final Complete Collection trade paperback of Werewolf By Night is arriving in comic book shops today, detailing the harrowing adventures of a man who is also a monster. This volume details an interesting reality where night and day are divided, has superhero team-ups with Iron Man and Spider-Woman, and throws in some new with the old Moon Knight adventures.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Complete your collection of the classic adventures of Marvel’s legendary lycanthrope! But can even Jack Russell survive when he battles the silver-clad stalker known as Moon Knight? There are plenty more candidates lining up to wrestle the Werewolf — including Hangman, Brother Voodoo, Iron Man and Fire-Eyes, the man with the gaze of doom! But will Spider-Woman be a friend or a fearsome foe? Jack has faced super heroes and supernatural threats; now he and Spider-Man — and Ghost Rider, too — will learn that no villain is more vile than…Tatterdemalion! Plus: Witness the savage rematch between Moon Knight and the Werewolf!
Why does this matter?
This is third and last volume in this complete collection series so if you’re a completist you’re going to want this. This book also has some fun classic hero appearances from Spider-Woman, Iron Man, and Ghost Rider just to name a few.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Jack Russell is a reluctant hero who learns how to control his powers even though he doesn’t want them. In this collection, he goes on some insane adventures including a team up with Iron Man and a battle with Moon Knight (who share themes in a way). There are also cosmic battles including a strange exploration of another world where night is always going and day too. This is a very wordy trade that will be a must for folks who have purchased the previous two volumes, but it’s more of a slice of history and still a totally enjoyable experience if you dive in here first. The art is good — the Spider-Man issue in particular — and there are plenty of pulpy moments that capture the era.
A chapter that is possibly worth the price of admission alone involves a caper with Ghost Rider (who makes two appearances in this volume), Morbius, and Man-Thing confronting a golden man who is human perfection. This tale is an interesting story as it reveals humankind split off and was kidnapped by aliens and sent into space where they evolved. The twist on this, that Los Angeles once housed a separate society torn away from our ancestors, is a clever tale and it brandished an interesting twist as the human/alien reveals the true selves of each monster. Its classic sci-fi meets supernatural in a fun way.
The Moon Knight issues at the back of this collection were published originally in 1982 and are drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz. These issues are clearly much more modern visually, with a striking style that is actually quite scary. It has a dark style similar to later Maxx artist Sam Keith. They’re gritty and modern, playing with the wild nature of the Wolfman and have a dark tone newer readers will appreciate. It’s hard to believe much of the earlier issues collected here were published in the ’70s, not too long before Sienkiewicz’s work, yet they harbor an overused and somewhat boring style in comparison. Moon Knight has a much closer look at what we know and love too and he looks very cool in this story.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is a dense read. There are issues within that are difficult to get through because characters are so verbose or the minutiae of the internal monologue is never-ending. It can be especially monotonous when the story retreads the character’s fear of turning and frustration of his burden. I can imagine these comics were hugely popular at the time, but werewolves really aren’t in fashion anymore. That said, it’s interesting to see a wolfman integrated into normal MCU stories. Unfortunately, he’s rather boring with little development and serves as a cliched reluctant hero over and over rather than an interesting character. Some of the predicaments he’s thrust into in this volume are fun though, and you can’t deny the supernatural elements as unique all their own.
Is it good?
One of the coolest clashes between pulp horror and superheroes I’ve ever read. It definitely shows its age with its art and slow pace, but it makes up for that with fun supernatural twists and turns. There are at least three must-read stories in this collection, which is a win in my book. That said, at 464 pages there may not be enough value here for many.
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