Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Werewolf by Night vol. II

I've been a huge Paul Jenkins fan for a while now. He has yet to disappoint me and his work on Sentry and Inhumans are some of my favorite stories of the last few years. Instead of taking superheroes in the more traditional direction, he has always given them a more grounded feel. Werewolf by Night isn't really a superhero tale, but Jenkins still keeps his grounded storytelling tone and also adds a little of the occult.

The story starts off by presenting us with Jack Russell, a man who turns into a werewolf during every full moon. He has hit rock bottom and is living his life simply out of obligation, that is until he is presented with a way to confront the curse of the wolf and possibly control it. With this newfound knowledge, he has a new purpose to living his life.

The first four issues of this six issue series are devoted to his quest to gain control over the curse of the wolf. I was really drawn in to this story as Jack confronts many demons (some person and some actual) on his quest for control. Once he reaches the point where he has wrestled control of his werewolf nature from the demon, it appears that his life is in order. In fact, the entire fifth issue is dedicated solely to him dealing with his newly found "normal" life. This issue was by far my favorite of the series as it explores Jack's friends and why it is they've stuck by him through the thick and thin. It was truly refreshing to see what actually happens after a climactic battle, such as Jack's with the demon that controlled him.

But then there's the sixth issue. I get the feeling, after reading it, that this series was meant to run longer but Marvel pulled the plug on it quite quickly. In the first half of the issue, a new story arc seems to be being set up. There's been gruesome murders in Jack's home city and he's been asked to find the culprit. As he starts his investigation, he goes to a club for the undead where he meets Ghost Rider. It would appear that this was the start of his quest for the killer, but in the last few pages a hackneyed ending is tacked on. Jack, on his way home, sees the full moon and is again turned into a werewolf and kills someone. It turns out he is the killer and the status quo is reset, possibly for future use of the character. It was really a terrible, terrible end to such a strong series start.

If you're going to grab this series, get all of the issues except the sixth. Pretend it ends at issue five and you'll be happy.

As for the art, I was very impressed by Leonardo Manco's heavily inked linework and the muted colors used on top of them. The art was very rough and gritty while remaining very detailed, which suited the story perfectly. I couldn't have really imagined a better artist for this story.

Art: 4
Story: 3.5
Overall: 3.5

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