"In most every way but one, I’m just your average Californian teenager—but it’s that one way in which I’m not that’s the kicker. Some fellows are shy with chicks; others have trouble with trig and senior-year calculus. Me, I’m a werewolf… A bona-fide werewolf-by-night."
Werewolf by Night (Jack Russell, birthname Jacob Russoff) is a comic book character and star of the series by the same name, created by writer Gerry Conway and artist Mike Ploog as a direct response to The Comics Code Authority's 1971 rule revision that allowed werewolves to be portrayed. The character debuted in Marvel Spotlight vol. 1 #2 in February of 1972 and was granted his own title which ran for 43 issues (September, 1972-March, 1977). In 1998 Werewolf By Night was given a short-lived revival, which sadly wascancelledbefore it couldreach a conclusion.Outside of his own titles, Jack has weaved his way through a number of other Marvel comic books over the years, such as Spider-Woman, Moon Knight, West Coast Avengers, X-Factor, Marvel Zombies and Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme. In 2009 there was the the four-part Dead of Night Featuring Werewolf by Night as part of Marvel’s MAX imprint, providing an alternate and mature take on the character.On his eighteenth birthday Jack Russell finds he has inherited the curse of the werewolf, and has to battle an array of villains, ranging from vampires to gorgons to circus folk, most of which need him in some way or another for the execution of their Evil Plan. During The Dark Age of Comic Books, he turned into a bit of an anti-hero, Walking the Earth and fighting rogue supernatural creatures who give the rest of them a bad name. As of the 2010s Jack mainly serves as a member of the Legion of Monsters, protecting other monsters from being killed and providing a safe haven for them.See this page for a full list of Werewolf by Night’s comic book appearances in chronological order, up to 2008.The werewolf appears in the Super Hero Squad universe: in The Superhero Squad Show season 2 episode "This Man-Thing, This Monster", and as a playable character in Super Hero Squad Online. He is also seen in Jill Valentine's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man TV-show as the leader of the Howling Commandos. A film adaptation was in the works in 2005 with cast and crew to be announced "shortly" and filming to start somewhere in 2006, but for reasons unknown nothing was heard from it again.
Werewolf by Night provides examples of the following tropes:
Aborted Arc: WbN vol.1 ends with Buck being attacked and his house burning down, setting up for a new storyline. After the book was cancelled, this was hastily resolved in Marvel Team-Up #93.
In WbN vol.2 Jack uses them to lock himself up during the full moon. May be justified in that Jack works as a sanitation engineer and thus has knowledge of where to go, along with the access to it. Still, it means he stands knee-deep in Grimy Water for three nights a month but doesn't experience any drawbacks. Not evenwith thatnose of his.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Jack’s girlfriend Terri last appears in WbN vol.1 #2, and is then never seen again. Most characters from volume 1 are never mentioned after the series' end, like Buck, Philip and Raymond Coker.
Comic-Book Time: Lissa and her daughter have aged much quicker than Jack. Lissa, about a year younger than her brother, has an 18-year-old daughter. Yet Jack still looks like he is somewhere in his early/mid thirties.
Cool Old Guy: Buck, although he is only ‘old’ in comparison to the other characters.
Couldn't Find a Lighter: Downplayed in volume 2 #6. Jack asks Ghost Rider if he's got a light and it looks like he's going to use the other's flaming head — but then lights his cigarette with the candle on the bar table.
Cursed with Awesome: Zig Zagged. At their creation, werewolves weren't "cursed" but merely given a useful ability; it later became a curse when humans got out of touch with nature and the way to control those abilities got lost over time. So when Jack becomes a werewolf on his eighteenth birthday, it really is a curse: forced to painfully transform three times a month with no control. But when he finally does learn how to control it, he starts to enjoy the abilities it gives him, seeing it as being given the best of both worlds: "Your curse can be a blessing." Unfortunately, the curse seems to have a way of striking back. You can transform any time you want? Your uncontrolled werewolf form during the full moons will become stronger and more violent. You're happy you won't have to change at all anymore, not even during the full moon? You'll lose the ability, and from now on you'll be forced to have visions of hell when you transform.
Cut Short: WbN vol. 2 was canceled due to poor sales; the story was continued in Strange Tales, which was canceled as well after two issues. This leaves many plot threads that are never resolved, most notably the ramifications of the cure gone wrong.
Jack’s hair is stated to be a light red, but it’s frequently shown as blond, dark red, auburn, brown or even black. Likewise, his eyes are blue in writing, but frequently green or brown in print.
How good-looking Jack is varies wildly as well. In Legion of Monsters: Werewolf by Night he could pass for a male model, while in Marvel Zombies 4 he looks like a ragged bum you wouldn’t want to run in to after dark. Put them together and they're hardly recognizable as the same character, even though the issues are only two years apart.
Two storylines published near-simultaneously feature two very different versions of Jack: in Punisher v7 #11-14 and Legion of Monsters #1-4 he’s a hotheadedJerk Ass who’s usually in for a fight; in X-Factor #222-224 he’s a mildly funny, well-mannered guy protecting others.
Jack speaks without an accent up until Morbius the Living Vampire #12, where he suddenly start using colloquialisms like the contraction “ain’t” and dropping g’s at the end of words. From there on out his accent fluctuates between ‘school book’ and ‘street thug’.
How werewolves act, think and function can vary from issue to issue. Are they creatures that just want to find a forest to run in and be left alone by everyone? Killing machines with an insatiable lust for blood? Predators simply looking for something to eat? Or wild humans with certain primal traits amplified? Can they think or not, talk or not, and do they remember their full moon actions the following morning or not? How much control does Jack have over his actions when transformed, with or without a full moon?
Funetik Aksent: Many characters have them in volume 1, most notably Joshua Kane, who speaks with a Southern drawl. Jack develops one after Morbius the Living Vampire v1 #12.
Fur Against Fang: Averted. While Jack does occasionally fight them, his best friend is a vampire(-ish), and his niece is a half-vampire.
Gentle Giant: Elmo, who was part of the circus sideshow that kidnapped Jack.
Glowing Eyes of Doom: The werewolf’s eyes are usually a glowy red or yellow, but sometimes a combination of the two or pure white as well. (According to the Marvel Handbook they should red.)
Hereditary Curse: The werewolf curse affects every descendant of Gregory Russoff, Jack's father. In reality, the curse is even more widespread: every descendant of the 18th century Grigori Russoff carries it in their blood, but with them it remains dormant.
Heroic Sacrifice: Buck nearly dies protecting Buttons from Jack during a full moon, shielding her body with his own and taking all the blows.
Humans Are Morons: For a while Jack sees normal people as monkeys and going to places as bars as going to the zoo. At least he admits it sounds egotistical.
Hybrid Monster: Lissa is transformed into a were-demon after being simultaneously hit by the light of the full moon and Glitternight’s light.
Hybrid Overkill Avoidance: Jack gets infected with the zombie virus, but because his biochemistry changes when he transforms it remains limited to his human form. So hitting the human zombie with magically created moonlight gives back a healthy (but feral) werewolf.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Raymond Coker seems like an antisocial loner with a personal vendetta against Jack, but it turns out he has a good reason for it: he’s a werewolf as well. After he has been cured, the very first thing he thinks is wanting to be turned into a werewolf again, just so Jack would be able to kill him and be cured as well.
Kind Restraints: Buck locks up Jack on several occasions to keep both him and everyone else safe, but it's usually to little avail: either the werewolf breaks out or Buck opens the door to check on him. Later Jack takes to locking himself up, but sometimes still requests others' help — like Bruce Banner's.
Messy Hair: In volume 2 it's a good indicator of Jack's state of mind.
Mirrors Reflect Everything: At the end of WbN vol.1 #1, Marlene and her father are turned to stone when she looks into the mirror.
Monster Mash: The werewolf has fought vampires, the Hunchback of the Notre Dame, gorgons, zombies, golems, the monster of Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde and more. Jack is part of the Legion of Monsters; taken up to eleven when the Legion governs Monster Metropolis.
Moral Dilemma: In WbN vol.1 #5 Jack is promised a cure that may prevent his sister from becoming a werewolf too – but he’ll have to kill a senile old man for it.
My God, What Have I Done?: Maria utters these words almost exactly in Giant-Size Werewolf #3 after the insanity is cleared from her mind and realizes she nearly killed her grandson.
Name of Cain: Joshua Kane, hunter of big game who decides it’ll be fun to hunt Jack, and his brother Luther.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Many villains (accidentally or intentionally) kill their accomplices, leaving Jack with at least a little less blood on his hands.
Nonhumans Lack Attributes: In the few occasions that the werewolf isn't wearing any pants he doesn't have any genitals. Averted in the Franken-Castle storyline, where the werewolf's nipples are visible even despite the fur.
Not Using the Z Word: The zuvembies are very obviously zombies, but due to the Comic Code’s restrictions they couldn’t be called that.
Our Souls Are Different: Souls pop up regularly in the series. They can be transformed, for example into chains or Eldritch Abominations. Topaz lost part of her soul, but it doesn’t seem to change her at all. Lissa loses her soul as well, but it is replaced with the soul of Taboo, again seemingly without consequences. In WbN vol.1 #42 it’s implied Fire-Eyes now inhabits Jack’s soul.
Pædo Hunt: Jack goes after a pedophile in Shadows & Light #3.
Parental Abandonment: Jack’s biological father died when he was a child; his mother dies in the very first issue.
Purple Prose: Some of the descriptions in volume 1 are definitely… unique.
Rape and Revenge: In Shadows & Light #3 it’s revealed Jack was molested as a boy; he goes after a pedophile partly out of revenge.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: According to the Marvel handbook, this should be the case: the werewolf's eyes are yellow when Jack is transformed and fully in control of himself; when he transforms involuntarily and becomes a dangerous, wild animal, they are red. Unfortunately the colorists don't quite adhere to this and the two colors often get switched around.
Religion of Evil: The Brotherhood of Baal in Giant Size Werewolf #2, among others.
Rescue Sex: Subverted in Midnight Sons Unlimited #7. Jack steps in during a robbery on a grocery store; afterwards the girl behind the register asks how she can ever repay him. He gets free groceries.
Scenery Censor: On the rare occasion that Jack is naked before or after his transformations, he is covered by shadows or objects.
Series Continuity Error: In Spider-Woman vol.1 #49 it’s said six years have passed since Jack’s inherited the curse, meaning he’s 24. But in Marvel Comics Presents #57, which takes place later in the continuity, it’s said Werewolf by Night vol. 1 #6 was only 2 years ago, which would make him 20.
The Seventies: As WbN vol.1 was published between 1972 and 1977, what did you expect?
The Shadow Knows: In several panels in Shadows & Light #3 a human Jack casts a werewolf shadow right before nightfall.
Speech Bubbles: Occur in many variations, changing from series to series. For example, in WbN vol.1 #42-43, Jack’s speech bubbles get thick, jagged edges when in werewolf form (a police officer describes it as "Mercedes McCambridge in The Exorcist"). In X-Factor his speech bubbles are black with white lettering.
Überwald: Transylvania, Jack’s birthplace, visited on several occasions.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Jack can be rather harsh towards Morbius, yet Morbius still refers to Jack as his best friend. He even goes against direct orders and tries to save the werewolf after he has become infected with the zombie virus.
Voodoo Zombie: Although in volume 1 they’re called Zuvembies due to the CCA’s restrictions of that time.
Weird Moon: The moon is full three times a month – on one occasion even four.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sarnak has gathered an army of mind-controlled beings and has been after a werewolf for years... to fix the economy.
Weirdness Censor: Averted for the most part. While a lot of people think the werewolf is a guy wearing a mask, they do catch on after they get a good look. And a lot of people suspect something weird is going on with Jack shortly after meeting him.