Contents: Werewolf by Night #22 (October 1974) to #43 (March 1977); Giant-Size Werewolf #2 (October 1974) to #5 (July 1975); and Marvel Premiere #28 (February 1976)
Key Creator Credits: Doug Moench, Don Perlin, and others
Key First Appearances: Marc Spector/Moon Knight, Frenchie
Story Continues From: Essential Werewolf By Night Vol. 1
Overview: Every 28 days, give or take, the full moon rises and lights up the night sky. Some people love those three nights that the full moon is visible. For other people, like Jack Russell, those nights of the full moon are the worst days of your month. See, Jack is a lycanthrope, which means that his body transforms into a werewolf with the start of the full moon. This is Essential Werewolf By Night Vol. 2.
Not much has changed since we read the last volume. Jack struggles with the transformations. His friends help him out, sometimes at great risk to their own lives. But a new threat emerges as Jack’s sister Lyssa approaches her 18th birthday. Will she be affected by the family curse? The short answer is yes. Unfortunately, during her first transformation, she is also imbued with a dark evil energy, making her a more ferocious threat. Thankfully, the group finds a cure for her condition, but Jack is still bound to the werewolf.
The highlight of this collection comes in Werewolf By Night #32 and #33, as a new villain is introduced to stop the Werewolf – the Moon Knight. It’s interesting to see mercenary Marc Spector contracted to bring in the Werewolf for a mysterious group known as the Committee, and they provide him a special suit with silver weapons to stop him. At the time, he seemed to almost be a throw-away character, as were most of the characters created in this run. But something took hold with this character, as we will see soon in a future Essential review.
What makes this Essential?: I want to like this more, but these issues just do not hold up. The two biggest items in this volume are the introduction of Moon Knight and the ability to will his transformations regardless of the moon phase. With Moon Knight, you get the full context of those issues by reading it here, but you could also just get Essential Moon Knight Vol. 1 if you want to see Marc Spector’s first appearance. The ability to revert to the werewolf at will should actually help the story-telling process, but by that point, the book had moved to bi-monthly status, and the popularity of the character appears to have been declining. For the completist, by all means, pick up this volume. I think the bookshelf would look great with two Werewolf By Night volumes, along with the four Tomb of Dracula, the Frankenstein, the Zombie, and the two Marvel Horror Essentials. I’m glad that Marvel reprinted this era of their books, but that still doesn’t make them essential.
Footnotes: Werewolf By Night #32 and #33 were also reprinted in Essential Moon Knight Vol. 1.
Giant-Size Werewolf #2 was also reprinted in Essential Monster of Frankenstein Vol. 1.
If you like this volume, try: the Legion of Monsters mini-series from Marvel in 2011. Getting a group of monsters together is not a new concept. Universal did it repeatedly with their monster films of the 1940s and 1950s. DC had their take with the Creature Commandos. We saw Marvel’s take in this collection with the Legion of Monsters story from Marvel Premiere #28. That concept was recently revisited in a story written by Dennis Hopeless. The monster hunter, Elsa Bloodstone, is on the trail of a killer… a trail which leads right to the hidden home of the monsters. But the monsters refuse to go down without a fight. Morbius, Werewolf, the Living Mummy and Manphibian defend themselves against Bloodstone in a fun romp that harkens back to so many of the monster mythos, both within Marvel Comics and in the pop culture lore.