Werewolf By Night #1 Review

by Charles Martin on October 21, 2020

Werewolf By Night #1 Review
Writers: Taboo & B. Earl (AKA Benjamin Jackendoff)
Penciller: Scot Eaton
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colourist: Miroslav Mrva
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Monster mini-series, launching in October, one of Marvel's cheesiest legacy titles, featuring a pair of industry-outsider writers. My expectations could not be more modest.

To say that they got blown away by Werewolf By Night #1 is the understatement of the week.

For a start, wipe the slate clean if you were expecting this series to revisit Jack Russel, the OG WbN and general sad sack. Taboo and B. Earl deliver an all-new protagonist, Jake Gomez.

He's a Native teen living on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. And for some years now, he's been grappling with a hereditary werewolf curse that turns him into a big-shouldered wolf-monster on any night when his emotions act up.

Thanks to his faithful sidekick Molly, he's found ways to control and canalize the curse, avoid harm, and even do good with it. The creators have picked the perfect time to drop into Jake's werewolf story -- well after the initial shock of discovering the curse, but just before he breaks through into big-time heroism. 

It helps that the region is gripped tight in the claws of a capital-E-Evil corporation, Life Pharmaceuticals. We're talking "kidnap locals for use as lab rats in monster-making experiments" evil, so there's not a lot of ambiguity as to who the bad guys are.

Also in the mix is everyone's favourite time-displaced Native shaman/sheriff/US Marshall, Red Wolf. He's tracking down Kamala's Law violators in the Southwest, and his path will inevitably cross Jake's in the future. They're already perfectly primed for some initial antagonism, leading to the inevitable team-up.

Rounding out the cast is Jake's Granny Rora, a lovable elder with an edge. She's equally likely to dish out sage ancestral wisdom or to complain about the drain-destroying realities of living with a werewolf. 

On the artistic front, Scot Eaton and Scott Hanna do an outstanding job of bringing the desert to life. Even more impressive than their settings are their characters; they have a knack for striking designs that is positively necessary for a "tabula rasa" story like this. Their werewolf is immediately memorable, as is their design for Molly.

Miroslav Mrva capably answers the challenge of a story that has to take place mostly in the night-time desert. He works wonders with pale blues and his colours for the werewolf are especially impressive. He gets amazing mileage out of grey and brown, using subtle colour shifts to indicate different lengths of hair as well as shadows and highlights.

Taboo and B. Earl have provided an all-around amazing script, and there are two features I have to hold up for particular praise. First is the density of the dialogue and ideas. They inject a tremendous amount of compelling content, but at no point does the prose feel forced. These characters talk fast, but they always sound natural. They do a remarkable amount to define themselves, build their world, and push the plot forward -- and their words are engaging every step of the way. 

The other praiseworthy bit of writing is the formidable connection to the wider Marvel universe. As noted above, Red Wolf is explicitly hunting teen heroes in connection to the Outlawed event. (And Granny Rora also notes that Jake and Molly's activities are extra-illegal thanks to Kamala's Law.) The respect for continuity also shines in the authors' portrayal of Red Wolf. Without beating the reader over the head, they drop subtle clues that indicate they're thoroughly familiar with the character's timey-wimey history.

Werewolf By Night #1 bursts onto the shelf with a surprisingly dense, surprisingly thoughtful tale of teenage lycanthropy on the Hopi Reservation. Dynamic art, compelling characters, a rich new world, and a nice, creepy monster-mystery all serve to suck in even the most disinterested of readers. "Werewolf By Night" might not be the kind of title that normally grabs you, but I urge you to give it a shot -- I doubt you'll be disappointed.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
I admit I need some clarification on Jake and Molly's relationship. Siblings? Cousins? Boyfriend/Girlfriend? Crime-fighting BFFs? Granny Rora thinks they'll get married, but Lord, you can never trust a granny.