Comic Book: The Astounding Wolf Man
When Gary Hampton is mauled and left for dead, his life takes a drastic turn! Gary is cursed -when the moon is full he transforms into a beast of the night - a werewolf! This curse will not be used for evil - witness the birth of the world's most unlikely new superhero.
Created by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard, this comic book
begins with a fairly simplistic concept: a werewolf superhero. What most product descriptions don't tell you, however, is that over its short-lived 25 issue run (July, 2007-November, 2010), the book quickly veers all over the place into multiple unexpected (and arguably darker
) territories very early in the series. Written by Robert Kirkman, famous for The Walking Dead
, the series is tied into the larger Image Comics
superhero universe, and features frequent recurring characters from Kirkman's other work, Invincible
This comic book series provides examples of:
- Adaptive Armor: Mecha-Maid can transform into this to awesome effect.
- The Adjectival Superhero / Something Person
- Alas, Poor Villain: The Elder. He turned Gary into a werewolf effectively ruining his life. Then he proceeds to toy with Gary's life before challenging him to a duel to the death. But in the series final moments we learn The Elder's motives and they are a bit more humanizing than one might expect.
- Ambiguously Gay: Agent Hunter and his partner are... close, and they can be seen embracing after the assault on Dr. Kleaver's lab.
- And the Adventure Continues: The series ends with Gary commanding a new task force made up entirely of werewolves, now presumably under the employ of the U.S. government.
- Art Evolution: Jason Howard was a new artist at the time of starting the book, and he and Kirkman both note in the collected editions how his style changed and improved over the 25 issues.
- Audible Sharpness: Thrill Kill's blades pop out with a "SHUKKT!"
- Berserk Button:
- BFG: At various points characters tote these. Also Mecha-Maid can become one.
- Blood Is the New Black: It's often easier to count the times we see Gary without blood on him, than with. Just part of the gorn.
- Body Horror: The Face's ... faces.
- Bolivian Army Ending: The series ends with one.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: Being a werewolf is cool. Being trained specifically to kill vampires is 20% cooler.
- Brought Down to Normal: The time Gary was confronted at sunrise (and thus unable to take wolf form), he had to fend for himself in human form.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Remember the old man Gary attacked on his first night as a werewolf in Issue #1? Well, he was a retired CIA agent who becomes a werewolf as a result and later works with Wolf-man after returning to government work.
- Chest Insignia: - of a styled wolf on Wolf-man's bulletproof vest.
- Cooldown Hug: Gary with Chloe when they are finally reunited and talk things over.
- Covers Always Lie: The cover of issue #22 has Wolf-Man and Mecha-Maid about to kiss each other. They do not kiss in that issue, or anywhere else in the series. In fact, no romantic interest between them is ever implied.
- Cross Over: Quite a few with Invincible. Supporting Invincible character Cecil is even pretty much a main character for the latter half of Wolf-Man's run.
- Recurring Capes villain Vault and some actual members of Capes Inc. also make an appearance. Kid Thor offers Gary a job at the company — night shift, of course.
- The Actioneers show up in Invincible a while after the end of their home series' run, with reformed Invincible rogue Powerplex as a new member.
- Cry into Chest: Chloe to Gary.
- Downer Ending: The first compiled volume of the series ends with issue #7, which has Zechariah accidentally but brutally murdering Gary’s wife, and when Gary finds her mutilated body, his daughter walks in and believes he did it...as does pretty much everyone else in the world.
- Darker and Edgier/Growing the Beard: The first seven or so issues of the series, though gory at times, are fairly light and standard superhero fare. After Gary’s wife is murdered, however, the story becomes much tighter and more serialized, the pace improves, the twists are huge and the stakes are constantly raised.
- Depending on the Writer: Wolf-Man and Invincible have an odd case of this happening between two series by the same writer with the character of Cecil Stedman, who appears in both series. In Wolf-Man, Cecil is shown to be much nicer than in Invincible; for example, he's willing to believe the best about Wolf-Man (that he didn't kill his wife), whereas he always believes the worst about Invincible (that he's a bad guy working with his father). On the other hand it's fairly well-known that Cecil tends to hold grudges (by his own admission) and Gary has never given Cecil a reason to doubt him, unlike Omni-Man or Invincible.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Gary tries to do this while on the run but can't bring himself to and throws away the bottle unopened.
- Duel to the Death: Two epic ones. Wolf-man v. The Elder. Wolf-man v. Zechariah would have been to the death if Zech hadn't lucked out.
- Face-Heel Turn: Zechariah.
- Furry Comic: Naturally.
- Good Thing You Can Heal: Wolf-man, Zechariah, and Hunter fall prey to this very often. Their injuries include Hunter being ripped completely in half, Zech having his head lopped off, and Wolf-man having a giant clawed hand through his entire midsection.
- Gorn: Compared to that other series Kirkman is famous for, there's not much gore. There is however a good deal of it here.
- Hates Being Touched: Besides being a technological genius (she's the one who finally gets Wolf-Man's gauntlets to work so he can stay a werewolf for some time during the day), this is Construct's most known trait. The first time we see her, she freaks when Wolf-Man destroys her robot and is near her, and later we see that in her secret headquarters, she has a laser defense system designed specifically to shoot off next to her if someone tries touching her.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: Justified with Chloe. She was misinformed and misled all over the place before returning to Gary's side.
- Heroic BSOD: Truly the whole series is sort of an extended one of these. But a critical moment would be when Gary's wife is killed by Zechariah.
- Heroic Fire Rescue: As with many heroes this is one of Wolf-Man's first heroic deeds.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Very averted. Gary is out to KILL Zechariah for what he's done. When he finally finds the chance he takes it. Cecil has a different plan unfortunately.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Zechariah
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: The 'Moon Rage' that overtakes werewolves on the first night of the full moon. They can learn to control the transformations on any other night.
- It Always Rains at Funerals: Dunford's funeral
- Left Hanging: Dracula is introduced...in the last issue ever.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Wolf-man and an ensemble of Badasses have one of these before storming a research center.
- Look What I Can Do Now: Gary when he fights Zechariah and uses his training to bite off Zech's arm for good.
- Millitary-Rank Superhero/villain Names: Sergeant Superior, one of the Actioneers.
- Mr. Fanservice: Gary/Wolf-man goes shirtless many times in all his muscular and perfectly sculpted glory. And as a werewolf he naturally suffers Clothing Damage often.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Gary goes through this when he realizes Zechariah has been lying and keeping things from him.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Several fights, but particularly the final duel.
- Oh, Crap: When Gary is caught at sunrise while he's mourning over Rebecca's grave.
- Our Vampires Are Different:
- Zechariah's vampiric powers come straight out of typical lore, including being able to turn into bats and mist, but his personality is much more layered and he appears to be more compassionate than common vampires, as he takes on a mentor role with Gary in the early issues. Until he turns into a straight-up villain after his Face-Heel Turn anyway.
- Justified with Chloe. She's got some powers of a vampire due to using vampire blood, but she's not an actual vampire herself.
- Appears to be COMPLETELY averted with the final issue's ominous introduction of Dracula. Not that we'll ever know... (Though Hickman has hinted the rebooted Guarding The Globe/Invincible Universe title just may see some further development of that thread.)
- Our Were Wolves Are Different: In this universe werewolves can come to control their transformations on all nights except for the first full moon of the month where they fall into a bloody rage. Werewolves also survive as a race proper, outside of normal society, and are ruled by a more potent strain of werewolf called an elder.
- Power Limiter: Gary is placed in one when he goes to jail. It keeps him from using his wolf form.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The general undertone of the series from #7 on.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: Invincible mentions this during a crossover with The Astounding Wolf-Man. When Wolf-Man asks if Invincible will get in trouble for breaking government property and beating up superheroes, Invincible shrugs it off, saying that as long as he's strong enough to save the earth, he gets a pass.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Gorgg. More like "Sealed Evil In a Stonehenge"
- Ship Tease: Wolf-man and Mecha-Maid started to get really close when they were working together. The cover for #22 really takes the cake though because that never happens in-story.
- Silver Bullet: An assassin explains that even if the story about silver bullets wasn't true, silver bullets should at least hurt as much as regular ones. As it turns out, there are a few elements harmful to werewolves, but Silver is the most commonly known one.
- Sparkling Stream of Tears: A touching example when Gary returns to his secret base for the first time since Rebecca died there.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Hoo-boy, trademark example with Gary's wife, Rebecca. Chances are your most prominent memory of her is her head turned almost backwards as she lies in a big pool of blood with vampire bites in her neck. That haunts Gary and drives the remainder of the story throughout the entire run.
- Tell Me About My Father: Not that Chloe asks for it... Dunford explains to her how truly dedicated and good her father is and always has been despite his lycanthropy.
- Terrible Trio: "Triple Threat" Construct is supposed to be the most competent one (but her arrogance often gets in the way), the other two are goons.
- Training from Hell: Gary's vampire-killing training is pretty awful. Particularly the training of his healing powers which involves being DISEMBOWELED by the Elder!
- Unhand Them, Villain!: A hilarious example. The villain, trying to be genre savvy, insists that if he drops the hostage off of the ledge he will be able to get away because Wolf-man will be too busy saving the hostage. So when villain drops the hostage Wolf-man lunges over the edge... and brings the villain with him!
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Gary/ Wolf-man has an exceptional number of these.
- Wham Issue: Issue #7, mainly for its ending. The entire premise of the series changes completely after this issue. This is also the moment things get Darker and Edgier.
- You're Not My Father: Deconstructed a bit in that Chloe actually believes her father's lycanthropy has changed him into a new 'person,' the 'person' who killed her mother.