Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Classics - Werewolf by Night #32 and #33

    It's interesting to note that very few of the new individual characters / heroes Marvel introduced in the 1970s actually started out as heroes - or in their own comic.

   Off the top of my head, there are only a few - Luke Cage and Ghost Rider had their own titles, but Wolverine, the Punisher and Moon Knight all made their first appearances as villains - sorta (and both Luke and Ghost Rider has shady beginnings - Luke as a convict and the Rider, after all, was a demon).

   Wolverine was first an opponent for the Hulk, and the Punisher took on Spider-Man.

   Moon Knight was a bit more low profile, appearing in 1975 in two issues of Werewolf by Night.

   The comic was written by Doug Moench, who demonstrated remarkable ingenuity over the course of the series, creating adventures for Jack Russell, a young man cursed to become a werewolf when the moon is full.

   The art is by Don Perlin, who was never a fan favorite, but was a genuine workhorse, with clear storytelling, solid designs, and a Ditko-like way of representing people and environments.
   Marc Spector was quite different in this first appearance from his later incarnation. Here he's depicted as a mercenary with a helicopter pilot assistant named Frenchie.

   But instead of being inspired by a mystical Egyptian encounter, Marc gains his name and costume when a cabal of businessmen hire him to track down the werewolf - and provide him with the silver costume and weapons.

   Of course, it all makes sense - silver being a problem for werewolves - and he manages to give the beast a heck of a fight.

   I was still somewhat surprised when Marvel brought Moon Knight back, but I enjoyed the revamped version, and the character certainly went on to bigger and better things, including a long distinguished run by Moench and artist Bill Sienkiewicz.

   While he doesn't have a series of his own right now (neither does the Werewolf), of those new character from the '70s, Moon Knight has exhibited staying power - he was a featured player in Age of Ultron, for example.

   Only Wolverine (and arguably the Punisher) have achieved lasting success - but with a great costume design and a unique origin, hopefully we'll continue to see Moon Knight making regular appearances - somewhere.

Grade: B+



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