Man-Wolf in a typically menacing pose. Artists: Gil Kane and John Romita.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1973
Creators: Gerry Conway (writer) and Gil Kane (artist)
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Marvel Comics already had an ongoing werewolf character when they introduced Man-Wolf. But the Werewolf by Night series featured a …

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… traditional supernatural-style lycanthrope. What their pantheon lacked was one that made a good fit with the superhero milieu their writers and artists had become so comfortable with during the past decade or so. Man-Wolf got the way he was not by being cursed, bitten by another werewolf or any of that stuff, but through his activities as a Moon-walking astronaut.

Like Morbius the Living Vampire, another monster-like Marvel character with a superhero-like origin, Man-Wolf's first appearance was as a menace-du-month for Spider-Man. He first appeared in the wall-crawler's 124th issue (September, 1973), in a story written by Gerry Conway (Ms. Marvel, Firestorm), pencilled by Gil Kane (Green Lantern, Star Hawks) and inked by John Romita Sr. (Captain America, scads of 1950s romance stories for DC). His origin story appeared in the following issue.

Man-Wolf (who, by the way, probably got that name because Universal Studios owned a trademark on "Wolf-Man") was John Jameson, son of Spidey's long-time nemesis, J. Jonah Jameson. Both Jamesons went all the way back to the first issue, the elder as a newspaper publisher who took the position that Spider-Man was a menace to society and the younger as an astronaut who got into a situation where he needed rescuing by a superhero (and when Spider-Man filled that need, it didn't make a dent in Dad's attitude). Years later, moseying around on the Moon, John's fancy was caught by a ruby-like rock, so he took it back as one of his selenological samples.

But his fascination didn't end there. In fact, he became obsessed with it, which led to his stealing it from NASA so he could wear it on a chain around his neck. He had it on when the next full Moon rose, with results that could be predicted by anyone who has ever seen a horror movie. In the process of his transformation into the inevitable wolf-like creature, the stone was permanently fused with his body.

The trend at Marvel just then was to make stars of monsters, so after a few bouts with Spidey, Man-Wolf got his own series. In Creatures on the Loose #30 (July, 1974), he replaced a minor barbarian hero, Thongor of Lemuria, which the publisher had licensed from science fiction author Lin Carter. During the course of his series, it came out that the stone had been placed where he found it centuries ago, by denizens of another realm called The Other Realm. As current possessor of (or person possessed by) the stone, he was successor to an ancient ruler of that realm, called Stargod.

But the Creatures on the Loose series was short-lived, ending when the title itself did, with its September, 1975 issue. After that the story got confusing, as stories crossing from one series to another and written by several different individuals often do. The upshot is, in Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #3 (1981), John was finally cured of his uncontrollable transformations by being separated from the gemstone.

Or as finally as things ever get in comic books, anyway. He's had a couple of relapses over the years, but in occasional supporting roles and guest appearances here and there over the last couple of decades, is mostly depicted as a former astronaut, former monster, former ruler of an alien dimension, etc.


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Text ©2003-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.