Comic Book: The Astounding Wolf Man aka: The Astounding Wolfman
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!