Saturday, October 29, 2016

In Search Of The Man-Wolf! Featuring the color premiere of David Anthony Kraft and George Pérez

Origins Of The Man-Wolf
John Jameson first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #1! He was the astronaut in distress, aided by Spider-Man's emergency rescue.

John comes back, affected by space spores to have super-strength and an aggressive new personality, when he tussles with Spidey in Amazing Spider-Man #42!

John's a supporting character around the time Doctor Octopus steals the Omni-Wave (and Spider-Man loses his memories!). Those issues start with a story in ASM #53; John appears a few more times. He's glimpsed talking with Captain George Stacy about the nature of ---Spider-Man! Peter and those secret identity worries.

In Amazing Spider-Man #124, written by Gerry Conway, our hero sees JJJ attacked- by a werewolf? (It starts happening to Spidey rather a lot during the stories of 1973!) JJJ recognizes something in his attacker, who communicates something human in a returned gaze, too. While Spider-Man's knocked out, Jonah realizes just who the Man-Wolf is! Here and the next issue, we meet John's fiancee Kristine- completing our eventual cast for Man-Wolf's own stories. I won't spoil the gruesome conclusion.

John's first transformation's triggered by a piece of moon rock he essentially stole from quarantine and made into a necklace. Who can steal a simple piece of rock? But it's grafting itself to his skin. The first change begins an occasion cool, dangerous habit of wrecking his vehicle- in this case, the car he's driving to meet Kristine Saunders for dinner!

EVeryone John knows and loves is in danger. He comes looking for help, in his confusion.
Spider-Man puts "two and two together!" The fabric worn by the Man-Wolf tips Spider-Man off. He finds the address for John- just in time!

Like Morbius The Living Vampire-to whom he becomes an unwilling ally in Giant Size Superheroes #1- Man-Wolf's metamorphosis relies on scientific means, the lunar radiation and parasitic moon stone, rather than supernatual causes. Still, he only have a werewolf variation on Spider-Man's perennial foe The Lizard. His distinction as a character from, say, the supernaturally-cursed character in Werewolf By Night will get further attention after the launch of his solo appearances.

Creatures On The Loose by Kraft and Peréz

In flashbacks, we see an ex-CIA agent named Simon Stroud (now a police detective) pursues the Man-Wolf across New York City. After the Man-Wolf fell from the Statue of Liberty, there was no sign of the monster until later.
When he catches up to Wolfie in Creatures On The Loose #33, Jameson, Kristine Saunders, and John have all become hostages of Kraven The Hunter! Jonah's given a rifle to defend them. Soon, Kraven will unleash the Man-Wolf- presently, his prisoner, John. Agent Stroud's hot on the trail of the werewolf, too.

Tony Isabella had brought the villain created by Steve and Stan to first appear (working with The Chameleon) in Amazing Spider-Man #15 (1964) to clash with Man-Wolf in Creatures #32. He and Kraft plot, and DAK writes, a story that holds up to the editorial idea of keeping characters familiar to readers of Spider-Man present in each issue.
From the earliest color Perez!

Man-Wolf might've had some good stories further crossing over with Spider-Man's world, but a unique direction lay in the fertile mind of the cycle riding new Marvel freelancer. First, he'd make the character his own, with a plot heading straight back the way DAK himself had come: the mountains of Georgia, near the North Carolina border in the Blue Ridge.

Resolving Kraven's twisted hunt pitting Jameson and Sanders against the Man-Wolf, DAK writes the rest of the story of this man in desperate need of help's fugitive rebellion. John Jameson, a.k.a. the macabre Man-Wolf, now was all Kraft and Per éz, telling their earliest stories quite well. Klaus Janson inks George, as I recall from having one time recently seen it. The letters page has a welcome from the writer, telling how his budding friendship with new artist George gave Creatures a solid, enthusiastic creative team who could launch Man-Wolf into orbit.

Kraft also followed Steve Gerber on The Defenders as regular writer- keeping things weird! His final regular series at Marvel was (except for the quick Stan Lee origin) the entire first run of The Savage She-Hulk.

Kraft would go on to a diverse number of professional creative writing outlets in the 1980s and 90s, before stopping a while to soak in life a spell, work on his home, and live there.

Peréz has great early runs on The Avengers and The Fantastic Four,

before moving to DC with Marv Wolfman (another wolfman!) to create and design the book, The New Teen Titans He became the principle story-teller on Wonder Woman at her 1987 relaunch, and would later do more terrific Avengers work for Marvel. He presently self-publishes a comic called Sirens.

What a great cover!

This adventure's got criminals with a bizarre, techonlogically-advanced base hidden in Tallulah Gorge, a kind young couple who follow John into the middle, and begins with a rather awesome train wreck off a bridge overpass hundreds of feet high. The train first nearly runs over the hirsuite apparition; then the aforementioned-criminals blow up the tracks, sending all but Man-Wolf to their doom.
A time of tranquility ends with John stumbling onto the criminals' activities. We haven't yet found out exactly what's their plan. The Man-Wolf hostage by night becomes a fearful, disoriented Colonel Jameson by day. The climax ends tragically; we can only wonder if John must remain friendless on his lonely path, tied to the mysteries of the moonstone- and cut off from humanity.

You get cool expressions like the splash page's Confusion: Moon-Triggered Mind Burn and other pulpy, vibrant captions, and a dense level of story without losing the thread- practically an hour-long TV program. At this phase, the artist is answering with a great multitude of panels to the service of story-telling over eye-popping visual, but the new guy's got some nice sequences, like the transformation amid the shadows. A lot of Kraft's career work depends on one foot firmly planted in reality, so it's nice to see the loving couple and a real-world locale correctly portrayed outside New York. Looking ahead, it's possible that couple was not what they seemed, but I'm enjoying what could've been a throw-away series and eager to see what potential it'll accrue even in a short while.
Peréz uses tiny panels to move the plot along- perhaps his layout choices to provide a sense of time cost him a chance to shine as an illustrator. Frank Mclaughlin's inks suit young George well.

A story that ends with a Man-Wolf transforming on a motorcycle is badass, indeed.

Hey, this article continues here: An interview with the writer's just waiting to be transcribed- I had to move in an emergency.

Editor/co-writer Kraft and series originator Onrie Kompan have just held in their hands the double-sized conclusion to their second Yi Soon Shin volume, Fallen Avenger. CongrATULATIONS!

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