Werewolf By Night: In The Blood – Book Review

  • Written by: Duane Swierczynski
  • Artist: Mico Suayan
  • Colourist: Ian Hannin
  • Letterer: Blambot’s Nate Piekos
  • Cover Artists: Mico Suayan & Frank D’Armata ( issues #1+2), Patrick Zircher & June Chung (issue #3) and Rafael Grampa (issue #4)
  • Assistant Editor: Alejandro Arbona
  • Editor: Warren Simmons
  • Collects: Dead of Night featuring Werewolf By Night #1-4 plus the two part story of Jack Russell’s first encounter with Dracula in 1974’s Tomb of Dracula #18 and Werewolf By Night #15

Intro:

Werewolves have been depicted in movies and television shows for years, from the early years of cinema to the modern day Hollywood blockbusters, people love a good werewolf story. However, the werewolf is often knocked to the side these days, to play second league against some of the more popular monsters such as Vampires, Zombies, and Demons. There was a time though when the big two monsters in the industries, were Vampires and Werewolves.

In the 1930’s and 40’s, Hollywood began releasing multiple films about Vampires, Werewolves and all sorts of fun terrors. The biggest films of which came in the form of the classic Universal Monsters collection from Universal Pictures, which included Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf-Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and more. These films were hugely popular with audiences and paved the way for fictional monsters for years to come.

After the success of the films, it would come as no surprise that eventually these monsters would make their way into the comic book industry. In the early 40’s and 50’s, around the same time as the success of the Universal Monster films being released, the comics industry brought the horror of the films to the pages of the comics, and Marvel eventually got in on the action as well in the 70’s with the Tomb of Dracula series, The Monster of Frankenstein, and Werewolf By Night. Along with other parallels to the gallery of monsters from the film franchises and their original source materials dating back decades and even centuries. Today these Marvel Comics are still popular for readers and collectors alike. With many of them being adapted into more modern forms of story telling, as well as reprints of the classic issues, for both physical and digital distribution.

Plot:

Michael Shepard has been living a lie his entire life. For starters, his name isn’t really Michael Shepard, it’s Jack Russell, and he has a dangerous secret, that puts not only his life at risk, but the life of his fiance and the child growing within her.

As a baby, Jack was the sole survivor of a vicious massacre that took the lives of fifty seven people in Wisconsin, 1983. However, his life wasn’t the only thin he was left with that night, for when Jack turned 18, he learned a terrible truth about who he was inside; a monster. Now living in Philadelphia, every time the cycle of the full moon rolls around, Jack, or rather, Michael Shepard, tells his fiance that he must leave for a few days on a “business trip”, but really, he never even leaves the state. Jack must lock himself away to avoid letting the creature out.

Jack returns home to find his fiance murdered, her stomach ripped open by what seems to be a vicious creature, with a message written in her blood left on the wall. Jack wants to believe it wasn’t him, but who else could have performed such a horrific act of violence besides his other self, the one that appears on the night of the full moon?

Unbeknownst to Jack however, he has been hunted and monitored for his entire life, and whilst the organisation looking for him lost track of him at one point, it isn’t long before they find him again. They say they’re here to help, but Jack soon learns more horrifying truths to the mystery surrounding these strangers.

Why I love this book:

What I love about this story is that it’s dark, bloody and violent but it’s also very emotional, very psychological in it’s thinking, but more importantly, it doesn’t portray our protagonist as any sort of hero. Living a life as a werewolf would be torturous for any decent human being to handle, and this book portrays the real struggle of wanting to keep the creature locked away so that it can’t hurt anyone, so that Jack doesn’t have to wake up and smell the stench of the torn flesh and dried blood beneath his nails, or the taste of it in his mouth.

I enjoy the idea of Jack and the Werewolf being two separate entities in a way, with their own minds, and whilst many would think the werewolf to be simply animalistic, it shows signs of intelligence beyond all doubts, especially as it leaves Jack messages.

Later on however, the story turns into one of acceptance. Jack and the Werewolf within him are two separate entities that fight for control over the body they both live in but in the end they learn to accept one another for the greater good, and this is a journey that we go through with them.

Art:

There is a lot of dialogue in this book, but the panels and pages don’t feel overwhelmed with text because the incredible story is brought to life through the incredible art in each frame. The design of the werewolf is much more horrifying and threatening than it’s original design in the 70’s. You can sense that each muscle seen on this creature is a painful transformative state from the human design.

You can see the emotions of each character whether Man, Woman, Child or Beast, the realism is there on every page and truly makes this story stand out from the somewhat cartoony designs of the original comics, and of other comics of this age. This is truly a horror comic and that feeling of terror is brought to life thanks to the art.

The colours also give us that sense of horror, by using heavy shading and dull colours that help separate the background from the characters. The glowing eyes of the werewolf really jump from the page and the beast feels like it’s staring right at you!

Overall:

This book is gripping, horrifying, and truly extraordinary for it’s compelling story and interesting twists that leave you wanting to know more. Jack lives his life by lying to everyone, but discovering that he has also been lied to really changes the perspective of how we take in this story. This is an instant classic in my opinion and I really hope we get more stories like this in the future.

This book also features two of the classic stories from the 70’s which gives us the two-part story that sees Werewolf By Night Crossover with Tomb of Dracula for the first time ever, but leaves us on a cliffhanger that continues Dracula’s story in the Tomb of Dracula series. I love books that give us these re-prints of older issues as it gives readers a chance to experience what the original comics were like, and compare them to the newer stories and designs.

Check out my reviews for them by following the links below:-

Tomb of Dracula #18: https://bcrdonline.home.blog/2020/09/02/tomb-of-dracula-18-enter-werewolf-by-night-1974/

Werewolf by Night #15: https://bcrdonline.home.blog/2020/09/02/werewolf-by-night-15-death-of-a-monster-1974/

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KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life

Keith R.A. DeCandido's mad ramblings

The Joker’s HQ

News, reviews and opinions on all things geek!

DCs Earth-9

Travelling the Multiverse

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