Comic Book: Werewolf by Night
"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 was cancelled before it could reach 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
, 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
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.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer:
- Sarnak's base of operations in vol. 1.
- 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 even with that nose of his.
- Alien Sky: Biphasia has two moons.
- And I Must Scream: Being turned into a stone statue for all eternity, but still being able to think. “The agony of life was over… the nightmare of hell was just begun!”
- Artifact Title: It's been quite a while since Jack was restricted to transforming at night.
- Badass Longcoat: Most prominently seen in volume 2. In Wolverine First Class #11 Jack pulls one out of a dumpster.
- Badass Normal: Even though he's regularly tied up and/or knocked unconscious, Buck Cowan deserves credit for willingly going head to head against super-powered beings for Jack's sake.
- Bears Are Bad News: Jack had to once battle a bear that had silver claws on its front paws.
- Beneath the Earth: Crawl down through the mist near Devil's Grotto and you'll end up in space.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: Off-screen in Legion of Monsters: Werewolf by Night.
- Blasphemous Boast: It got Aelfric burned at the stake as seen in WbN vol.1 #3.
- Breaking the Bonds: Jack is tied down regularly, but easily breaks free when the moon rises.
- The Bro Code: Averted. Jack sleeps with his best friend Morbius' ex but nothing is made of it.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: In Shadows & Light #3 Jack's face gets obscured by shadows; his eyes are glowy white dots.
- Character Title
- 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 Bike: Jack rides one.
- 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.
- Cross Over: Many, most frequently with Morbius, Spider-Woman, Moon Knight and Ghost Rider. The werewolf has fought the Hulk on at least two occasions.
- 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.
- Damsel in Distress: Lissa, Jack's sister whom he often has to save.
- Dangerous Eighteenth Birthday: The werewolf curse present in the Russoff bloodline comes into effect on the bearer's eighteenth birthday.
- Deathbed Confession: Jack’s mother tells him the truth about his father right before she dies.
- Death Is Cheap: Jack dies in Morbius #12; by #13 he’s already been resurrected.
- The Deep South: The setting of Legion of Monsters: Werewolf by Night.
- Depending on the Artist:
- 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.
- Depending on the Writer:
- 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 hotheaded Jerk 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?
- Destination Defenestration / Super Window Jump: “Window smashing is [the werewolf’s] specialty.”
- Disabled Snarker: Freddie in WbN v2.
- Disappeared Dad: Jack grew up without his biological father, who died when he was a child.
- Dream Within a Dream: Midnight Sons Unlimited #7 is this.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Leading up to his 18th birthday, Jack has dreams of himself as a werewolf that get increasingly worse.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Jack has a habit of this in WbN v2, often seen with a bottle of bourbon. Apparently he has promised his girlfriend Roxanna many times he'd stop drinking, but doesn't.
- Eldritch Abomination: Topaz’ soul; the creature near Devil’s Grotto.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Many cars featured throughout the series blow up upon crashing. One even explodes upon hitting a couple of trashcans.
- Fainting: All women in volume 1 are prone to this.
- A Friend in Need: Jack toward Morbius, and vice versa. Very notably in Morbius the Living Vampire #12-15, when Morbius is resurrected without his soul.
Jacob: I—I have to separate myself from this madness.
Jack: Coward! I guess we see who Morbius's real friends are now. I'm going after him. He needs help.
- Fully-Embraced Fiend: Jack is this to Morbius in Morbius v1 #12, going so far as to say the vampire should just go with the hunger, not against it. Morbius shoots back Jack is the one who needs help, not he. Several years later, it seems Morbius was right.
- 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.
- I Am What I Am
Rhona: How do you live with it? With—being what you are? How can you stand it?
Jack: What's the other option? Trying to be something I'm not?
- I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Averted. Jack loves his father, even if he passed the curse onto him.
- I Kiss Your Foot: Jack kisses Martine Bancroft's foot after a romp. It's definitely meant as erotic.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Buck tries this occasionally, to little avail.
- I'm Having Soul Pains: Part of the transformation; see Painful Transformation below.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Played with in that Jack doesn't die but turns into an undead instead, in Marvel Zombies.
- Intergenerational Friendship: 19-year-old Jack and 40-something Buck.
- Interspecies Romance: All of Jack's longer-term girlfriends are human.
- 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.
- Let's You and Him Fight: When Jack runs into Iron Man, he is mistakes for a criminal and they start to fight.
- Like Father, Like Son: “Ah, Jacob—you’re a big lad, eh? Big like your father—bright like your mother!”
- Love at First Punch: Martine burns Jack's hand with a cigarette; he transforms, ready to rip her apart. The scene cuts away and the next time we see them they've just had sex.
- Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Marlene, Miles Blackgar's daughter.
- Magical Land: Biphasia, an alternate time/world/dimension (even Jack isn't sure). It's split in two: on one side it's perpetually day, on the other perpetually night.
- Major Injury Underreaction: After being run through with several silver katanas in Punisher vol.7 #13: “Acupuncture. Tickles.”
- 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.
- Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Committee, which seeks to create an economic boom by causing incidents and fear.
- Nephewism: Jack's mother remarried her late husband's brother, meaning Jack's stepfather is also his uncle.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Hippies pop up here and there in volume 1 as Acceptable Targets.
- 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.
: “You mean they’re zo—” SKRASH
- Off with His Head!: Werewolf Super Strength enables Jack to rip off a mook's head with his bare hands, as seen in Punisher v7 #11
- 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.
- People Jars: After being infected with the undead virus, Morbius keeps Jack in one, as seen in The Amazing Spider-Man #622.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: What the intended movie adaptation was going to be. Robert Nelson Jacobs' (writer of Chocolat) script was about Jack "falling in love with a beautiful but deadly Bounty Hunter".
- Precision F-Strike: Jack uses "stinking" for the longest time, and if he swears, it's mostly Symbol Swearing. So when he finally drops his first all-out F-bombs (albeit in the Alternate Universe of Dead of Night featuring Werewolf by Night), it's pretty significant: "You fuckers. You lousy, lousy fuckers."
- Psychic Powers: Topaz uses them to keep the werewolf in check.
- 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.
- Shout-Out: To some of the Hollywood horror greats, like Lon Chaney Jr., Boris Karloff and Maria Ouspenskaya, as well as the Marx Brothers, Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart and The Rolling Stones. In Ghost Rider vol.2 #55 Jack wears a shirt of The Howling.
- 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.
- Stealth Pun: Jack is said to own a place on Landon Road. The late Michael Landon starred in I Was a Teenage Werewolf.
- Strapped to an Operating Table: Very common.
- Stock Shout-Outs: A poster reading “See you next Wednesday” appears in Jack’s room in Midnight Sons Unlimited #7, which is director John Landis’ Creator Thumbprint. Landis directed An American Werewolf in London.
- Suicide by Cop: Jack demands Morbius kill him during their Suicide Mission in Marvel Zombies 4 after he has been infected with the zombie virus. Morbius refuses.
- Suicide Mission: It’s implied the risk was one of the reasons Jack joined Morbius’ Midnight Sons mission in Marvel Zombies 4 in the first place.
- Taken for Granite: Everyone on the island is eventually turned into stone statues by Marlene.
- Taking the Bullet: Maria Russoff throws herself into the path of a silver knife meant for Jack.
- Tap on the Head: All. The. Time.
- These Hands Have Killed: After waking up next to a dead body in WbN v2 and telling his father he thinks he's killed someone.
- Threatening Shark: When Jack dives into the sea to hide from the cops in the earlier issues, he is attacked by a shark.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Darkhold, originally Satanic scrolls that Jack’s father had bound into a book. Reading it was the catalyst that awakened the werewolf curse in his blood.
- Transformation Sequence: It comes with the trade.
- 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.
- Who Writes This Crap?! / Self-Deprecation: Jack takes a jab at Morbius, another comic book character owned by Marvel Comics: "Ha! You're such a cliché. So emo all the time about the tragedy of bloodlust like some bad Twilight fanfic."
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Going by the number of full moons that appear in WbN vol.1, several years must have passed, but Jack remains 19.
- You Killed My Mother: Jack suspects Philip Russell is responsible for his mother’s death. He’s not.