In the Halloween spirit, Marvel has released a complete collection for Man-Wolf, the sometimes Spider-Man foe and son of publisher J. Jonah Jameson.
The volume collects John Jameson’s first appearances as Man-Wolf from Amazing Spider-Man #124-125, along with the characters’ appearances in later Spider-Man issues, Creatures on the Loose, Savage She-Hulk and more. Frustratingly, one of the complaints I have with this volume is that the back cover that summarizes everything within is rendered almost entirely unreadable thanks to the choice of the blood-red font and the glossy paper.
While I understand the choice of the font for a horror-volume, better care should have been made to make sure this was more easily readable, especially since it is the only place that the creators are credited on the exterior of the book.
Once you delve into the volume, things fare better. The volume features some heavy hitters like Gerry Conway, Gil Kane, and George Pérez. The collection begins with the Amazing Spider-Man issues, giving readers a good sense of who John Jameson is. For a superhero story, this still plays pretty heavily into the horror aspects as both Spidey and J. Jonah Jameson try to work out just what is going on with John. Once Jonah learns the truth, it’s harrowing to watch as he tries to cover for his son while also refusing to trust Spider-Man. In all, writer Gerry Conway and artist Gil Kane do a great job in utilizing John to draw out new dimensions in that long-running conflict.
Man-Wolf: The Complete Collection then transitions Man-Wolf into his own story. After a brief team-up with fellow Spider-Man foe, Morbius, Man-Wolf finally takes the center stage in the Creatures on the Loose issues. These stories start off firmly in the horror genre with writer Doug Moench and artist George Tuska introducing Simon Stroud as a Special Agent assigned to investigate a series of attacks. The story continues with this monster/mystery theme and then… things take a turn into the fully bizarre.
Writer Dave Kraft and artist George Pérez abandon the more standard werewolf fare and play into the cosmic origins of Man-Wolf’s condition – yes, the volume goes to space. These issues are beautifully done (you can’t give me enough of George Pérez), but they are so tonally different from what precedes them that it really did make me stop and recalibrate my sensors. In fact, while the cosmic adventure only takes up a few issues in the volume, it completely affects the tone for the rest of the read. While some of the later Man-Wolf appearances try to revert back into “horror-ified” versions of superhero stories, it’s hard to let go of the image of this werewolf fighting a cosmic viking.
Is it Good?
Man-Wolf: The Complete Collection is an absolutely bizarre volume. On one hand, it’s great to see Marvel assemble a volume like this for such an obscure character, especially when many of the issues collected are likely hard to come by on their own. From a preservation perspective, this is fantastic. On the other hand, this captures some of the weirder stories in Marvel’s pantheon, and while I’m sure there’s an audience for that, I also feel like potential buyers should flip through it – this isn’t strictly horror like one might assume.
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