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Comic Book / The Astounding Wolf-Man

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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.



  • 0% Approval Rating: The Elder has no illusions that other werewolves despise him for everything he's done and only follow his commands out of fear, not any genuine loyalty.
  • Adaptive Armor: Mecha-Maid can transform into this to awesome effect.
  • The Adjectival Superhero / Something Person: Right there in the title.
  • 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.
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  • 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:
    • Go ahead, try to harm Gary's daughter Chloe.
    • Alternatively see what happens when you disrupt the Elder's forest.
    • Never ever badmouth Chloe's parents in her presence. Especially when she's currently holding something hard or sharp.
  • 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. Oh, and he also had a terminal cancer. Gary turning him into a werewolf literally saved his life.
  • Chest Insignia: Of a styled wolf on Wolf-man's bulletproof vest.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Gary suffered from this even before he became the Wolf-Man. He is a Self-Made Man who built his company from the ground up, but he always acted as if he was somehow guilty for the fact that many other people are not as fortunate. Therefore, he did his best to help the poor, gave a lot of his wealth to charity and even rendered aid personally (in a flashback, he's shown giving a bag of groceries to a homeless man, and there's also the way he resolved the rivalry with Dunford's company). However, no matter how much he helped, he always felt he did not help enough. Things only got worse when he's turned into a werewolf.
  • 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.
  • Crossover: 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: 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.
  • Death Seeker: The Elder. He once thought he could lead all werewolves into bright future alone better than council of elders, but his actions brought their race to near-extinction instead. Now he deems himself a failure and has spent quite some time looking for someone suitable to be turned into a new elder — so they would kill him and supplant as a leader werewolves truly need. Even as he's pummeling Gary during their final duel, he urges him to fight back and deal the killing blow.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Of a fashion. Dunford used to be the CEO of a corporation which rivalled with Gary's company and was brought to the edge of bankruptcy. However, instead of driving his competitor to the ground, Hampton — being the inherently good guy that he is — decided it would be better to buy out their assets and merge them with his own corporation, letting many people keep their jobs and making Dunford his associate. It wasn't long before the two became best friends.
  • 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.
  • 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 does pretty much everyone else in the world.
  • 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. However, it takes some time for him to turn from Well-Intentioned Extremist to straight-up villain.
  • Fallen Hero: When Zechariah was turned into a vampire, he decided to use his newfound powers to do good, hunt down criminals and sate his bloodlust on them instead of innocents — making him one of the first (if not the first) superheroes in existence. Currently, however, he is just a scheming bastard, manipulating others and using them as pawns in his grand plan of bringing upon the new world order.
  • False Friend: Chloe's school friends are apparently this. They shun her and treat her like garbage the moment her family's fortune is (temporarily) lost.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Mecha-Maid — a sentient, Ridiculously Human Fembot, living (so to speak) in a world where superpowers, aliens and humanoid hybrids are real and widely known phenomenons — is skeptical about the idea that Wolf-Man is an actual werewolf, chalking it up to really convincing costume.
  • Furry Comic: Naturally.
  • Glass Cannon: For all his power, the Elder turns out to be this in the end. He effortlessly defeats the Triple Threat team when they invade his forest and worfs Zechariah by killing him instantly in a single blow to the heart. However, his body has withered with age, greatly limiting his regeneration abilities (he is even unable to turn into his human form — which would normally instantly heal all his wounds — because he is so old that he would die upon doing so). Thus, when Gary rips his throat apart during their final duel, he is unable to regenerate the damage in time and bleeds to death.
  • 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: There is 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.
  • Hope Spot: In issue #7, things seem to be finally looking up for Gary. He is cleared of embezzlement charges, he regains his position in the company, his assets are unfrozen, and although Rebecca is about to move away (at least for a while), he manages to reconcile with her and make a solemn promise he will make things right. He even locks Zechariah out of his life, having grown fed up with his lies. And then, just when it seems like everything is going to change for the better from now on, Zechariah turns up and murders Gary's wife, allowing the blame to fall squarely on Hampton's shoulders.
  • 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.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Military Rank 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. This only applies to his werewolf form though, as a human he's decidedly average.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Gary goes through this when he realizes Zechariah has been lying and keeping things from him.
    • Chloe also has this reaction during prison break scene, when Gary refuses to fight her even after she's impaled him with her sword. Apparently, this makes her finally realize that even after being turned into a werewolf, her father remained a good man he always was, never turned into a beast she thought he's become nor harmed her mother, and she had been misjudging him the whole time.
      Chloe: [after Wolf-Man has collapsed to the ground] Daddy? DADDY!
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Several fights, but particularly the final duel.
  • Offing the Offspring: At some point, Zechariah euthanises his bedridden and terminally ill son after explaining to him that since he had aged so much as ordinary human, he cannot be turned into a vampire and used in his scheme.
  • 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.
    • Zechariah shares how he'd hoped to join the great world of vampires who move in secret and live in powerful luxury. However, he soon discovered vampires are nothing more than junkies, desperate for their latest "fix" and couldn't organize a picnic, let alone a grand society.
    • 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"
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • Zechariah is this to Gary. Each one of them used to be an ordinary human, but was turned into a monster (a vampire and a werewolf respectively) and decided to use his supernatural abilities to help people and fight injustice. However, while Zechariah eventually got Drunk with Power and decided he would make the world better by actually creating a vampire society that would secretly influence it (with himself in charge, of course), Gary is driven only by genuine kindness and willingness to help others. Ironically, although he never sought to accumulate any power for himself, he still ended up becoming a leader of all werewolves, with intent to use them to make the world a better place — not because he wanted this, but because he was worthy of it. Zechariah, on the other hand, saw himself as a future overlord of a similar society, but his actions prove that he was unworthy of such position.
    • Gary and the Elder share a similar dynamic. They are both werewolves of a rare and potent strain, destined to lead their kin, but when the latter was turned, he quickly got Drunk with Power, murdered all elder werewolves in order to become a sole ruler of entire race and thought he would make it great and dominate the world. However, he turned out to be an incompetent leader and brought the werewolves to near-extinction, which forced them into hiding. Meanwhile, Gary has no intention of enforcing his will on others nor lust for power, which is exactly what makes him a responsible leader material. The Elder lampshades this, explaining that while he was never prepared for leadership and turned out to be a failure because of it, Gary already is an influential man — a businessman in charge of entire company — who is nonetheless driven by sheer goodwill, so he would never let the power get to his head like the Elder did.
  • 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: Agent Hunter uses them against Wolf-Man when trying to apprehend him. He 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.
  • 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!
  • Trauma Conga Line: Gary goes though a hell of one for the most of the comic's run. He gets turned into a werewolf and is having a lot of fun, using his newfound powers to combat crime, but in the meantime, his personal life is falling apart. The media circus resulting from his month-long coma and subsequent blow to his corporation's interests get him locked out of the company, later his assets are frozen due to charges of embezzlement, his family is evicted from their manor and forced to live in an underground bunker beneath a shopping mall. The relations with his wife and daughter deteriorate — especially with Chloe, who grows to hate her father and blame him for everything that's befallen them. And just when you think things cannot get any worse, Zechariah murders Rebecca and Gary is falsely accused of her death. He becomes a fugitive, hunted relentlessly by law enforcers, government agents and even ordinary citizens who report his whereabouts to the police whenever they recognize him. Even his own daughter is out to kill him. In the end, he is captured, deemed guilty of his wife's murder and thrown into prison. In a span of mere days, Gary lost literally everything he held dear.
  • 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.