AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Dell’s Werewolf (1966)
Welcome to Day 4 of AWESOME-tober-fest 2010. I’ve been discussing werewolves in comic books this week. Today, I’m looking at Dell’s super spy, Werewolf. He isn’t literally a werewolf, but he is called Werewolf and he’s a somewhat reboot of the Universal Wolf Man into a crime fighting super hero. Let’s take a look.
In 1966, Dell would attempt to reboot the classic Universal Monsters into super hero comics. I talked about Dell’s ridiculous super hero Frankenstein last year during AWESOME-tober-fest. Dell also tried this with Dracula. Anyway, since The Wolf Man was a trademarked title, they had to go with the more generic “Werewolf”. And so they created their new super agent, code named Werewolf and his wolf companion, Thor.
In the first issue of Werewolf, pilot Wiley Wolf, while flying experimental aircraft in the Arctic Circle, crash lands in the Canadian wilderness. The crash causes Wiley to lose his memory. He even forgets he’s a man and thinks he’s a wolf (cause that’s how amnesia works). Of course, he is taken in and cared for by a pack of wolves, because that’s what they do. One of these wolves, Thor, becomes his constant companion because he feels he owes Wiley some sort of “life debt”. Eventually Wiley gets his memory back and is rescued, after which he immediately resigns from military duty. Literally five minutes after resigning from the military, he is “recruited” by a shady covert government agency (along with Thor) to become a super spy. I say “recruited” because he is not really given a choice. He is taken directly from the airport to the agency’s hidden headquarters and begun his training before he can even take a leak. And he goes right along with it. He is trained to physical perfection and given special hypnotic abilities to allow him to assume several different “facial configurations” to help facilitate his undercover work. He is given an all black suit (see pic below) that, while being only one molecule thick, is built with advanced technology making it virtually bulletproof and has boots that can change their tactile surface for sliding (slick) or climbing (gripped).
Properly trained and clothed, Wiley sets out to fight the enemies of democracy and freedom as a cross between Batman and James Bond. When not on assignment he lives in a hidden mountain retreat (of course it’s hidden) and has a beautiful CIA contact Judy Bowman (of course she’s beautiful).
Dell’s Werewolf only lasted two more issues before it was summarily canceled (see issues #2 and #3 above). A similar fate to it’s Frankenstein brother. However, as ridiculous as the Frankenstein super hero concept was, this one was actually good. The problem lies in the writing. This book is poorly written. It is hokey and ham fisted and makes little sense. Some examples? Of course.
Werewolf’s lair, as I said, is hidden. It has a secret entrance and exit, but instead of implementing some hidden tunnels underneath said lair like Batman, the “backdoor” is actually a man made pool/lake that he swims in and out of to get out. Yes, he has to SWIM out of his lair if he wants to sneak away. Logistics aside, that just seems like an overly complicated solution to a simple problem. Not only that, but his wolf companion, Thor, also has to swim out. Werewolf’s suit helps him breathe. What about Thor? That looks like a pretty long underwater tunnel in the last panel. How long can Thor hold his breath? Again, this solution seems needlessly complicated.
Read this page. In the upper right panel, Werewolf mentions that he had an accelerated language course. Makes sense since he’s infiltrating Cuba and needs to know the language to fit in. However, in the panel below that when he starts to use his “Spanish” to flag down a vehicle, he speaks English to the native Cuban. He. Speaks. English. Did I miss something? Apparently. In the bottom left panel he exclaims that his accent is perfect. Ok, so he took an accelerated language course to learn an accent. Got it. WTF?!
Werewolf is supposed to be able to think a command and Thor, implanted with a mini-radio receiver in his brain, will hear it and obey. Werewolf has a transmitter in his throat to facilitate this. Yes, that is cool. But, again, the transmitter is in his throat. How are Werewolf’s thoughts getting from his brain to the transmitter in his throat? I don’t think the brain works that way.
And all of those are only in the first issue. The second issue deals with the Chinese tracking our submarines. Werewolf must find out how. And he does it by suspecting the first Chinaman he sees as being Communist. Shockingly, he turns out to be right and discovers that the Chinese are training dolphins and porpoises to track and report US submarine routes. Werewolf even contemplates arresting the dolphins and porpoises for a split second. It’s awesome. The third issue has Werewolf go into Red China to rescue a general. Upon landing over the Chinese border Werewolf again mentions his “accelerated language courses” before speaking plain ‘ol English to Chinese farmers. Plus there’s a villain in the issue that is actually named A.N. Arkist. They seriously named him that, you guys. And Werewolf manages to silently and discreetly evacuate a passenger liner of hundreds of people without the terrorist who took it hostage knowing. It’s f’n hilariously absurd and ridiculous. Oh, and they re-tell Werewolf’s origin story in all three issues. You know, in case you forgot.
Despite the increasingly goofy dialogue and absurd situations, the premise is interesting and could have become a lot better if given the chance to mature. However, like I said, it only lasted two more issues.
After reading this comic, I’m wondering if this is where Hasbro got the basic idea for GI Joe’s Snake Eyes. The two are eerily similar, even down to the outfit and gray wolf companion (see below).
Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.