Archive for the Wolf Man Category

AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Finishing up The Astounding Wolf-Man

Posted in comic books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, werewolf, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2012 by Paxton

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Since this final week of AWESOME-tober-fest is a short week, I’m straying from the movie maniac theme and doing updates to previous Halloween reviews. Yesterday I reviewed the final book in The Strain trilogy which I had previously reviewed the first two books last year.  Today, I’m going to talk about the comic series The Astounding Wolf-Man.

The Astounding Wolf-Man

Two years ago for AWESOME-tober-fest 2010, I reviewed the first 18 issues of the comic that were collected in Volumes 1-3 of the trade paperbacks.  The final fourth volume collecting issues 19-25 had yet to be released.  However, I acquired the final collection earlier this year and read the concluding story.

The last and concluding story arc was called Legacy.  It’s a five-parter that takes place in issues #21-25. So much happens in this concluding story.  Seriously, it’s packed with a lot of action.  We see the main character reunited with his daughter, we see the end game of the Elder Wolf’s plans and we see the final confrontation between Wolf-Man and Zachariah (which is awesome, btw).

astoundingwolf-man21astoundingwolf-man22astoundingwolf-man23

In short, I loved this series. So many great characters written so well. Kirkman really does a great job with so many characters to juggle.  It was actually this series that led me to Kirkman and had me checking out his other work like Invincible, The Walking Dead and Marvel Zombies.  But that’s only half of the whole. Jason Howard’s amazingly dynamic art really sells it. I love the dynamics of Howard’s action and how he designs the look and feel of the universe. Plus, his 2 page action spreads are breathtaking. It really adds a lot of character to the story.

Speaking of characters, several of them are standouts. Gary Hampton/Astounding Wolf-Man is great. Zecariah the vampire is also a great villain. The Elder Wolf is BAD ASS. And in this final run of issues, we really see some good character work with Mecha-Maid. I really enjoyed her character and I want to see more of her.  You can see her in the second comic cover above.  Btw, that scene on the cover never happens.  But it’s a great cover, nonetheless.

Anyway, like I said, I want to see more of these Astounding Wolf-Man characters. I think he and Mecha Maid may pop up from time to time in Kirkman’s Invincible, but I want to see more.  This series was just too much fun not to continue.  However, like I said, as of today, issue #25 was the final issue.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2011: A Story of Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein book and record set (1975)

Posted in Dracula, Frankenstein, monsters, nostalgia, pop culture, vampires, werewolf, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by Paxton

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Welcome to AWESOME-tober-fest 2011.  For those that don’t know, this is my yearly Halloween celebration.  I do it in conjunction with the Countdown to Halloween Blogathon.  Each week I’ll be looking at comics, movies, TV shows and books that feature monsters.  This year’s theme is Dracula/vampires, so the stuff will all feature Dracula or vampires.

Anyway, we begin the celebrations with comic book week. This week I’ll look at a bunch of comic books and comic book stories that featured the character of Dracula. Today, I’ll start with a different type of comic book. A Power Records book and record set. Dracula book and record This is the book and record set of A Story of Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein.  It was released in 1975 and features awesome artwork by Neal Adams.  Somewhat of a long and awkward title, isn’t it?  I thought this book would be appropriate to look at today because it features the monsters in reverse order of how they appeared in the last three years of AWESOME-tober-fest.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2011 – Dracula/vampires (NOW)
AWESOME-tober-fest 2010 – Wolf Man/werewolves
AWESOME-tober-fest 2009 – Frankenstein’s monster

The book contained one long story incorporating all three monsters.

Frankenstein 01
The story starts as a man and woman are discovered in the woods by a blonde Dracula with a Ted Nugent mustache.  The guy is revealed to be Vincent, the nephew of Baron von Frankenstein and the girl his fiance, Ericka.  He survived the murder of his uncle by villagers (saving the knowledge of his uncle’s work) and is being chased by those very same villagers.  Dracula offers his castle as refuge.  But as soon as the couple settle into the castle, Dracula takes Ericka hostage and forces Frankenstein to create a slave using his uncle’s lab equipment.  Frankenstein builds the monster and imbues it with life.  However the monster goes apesh*t and tosses the fiance out the window (I’m not kidding).  Frankenstein begs Dracula to save her and so he calls The Werewolf.

The Werewolf
The werewolf attacks Ericka, then takes her to a gypsy camp run by Maleva and her son Bela (the two gypsies from the original Universal Wolf Man movie).  Ericka discovers a pentagram on her hand and remembers a werewolf poem, “Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night may be become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the moon is shining bright”.  Yes, apparently Ericka has been turned to a werewolf.  Of course, at that moment, the full moon comes out from behind some clouds and Ericka turns into a wolf and engages in a battle with another giant werewolf.  Bela shoots the other giant wolf and it turns back into Maleva.  As a wolf, Ericka flees and somehow finds her way back to the Castle Dracula.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Watching Universal’s Wolf Man movies

Posted in monsters, movies, reviews, Universal Studios, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by Paxton

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So here we are, Day 19 of AWESOME-tober-fest. We are in the middle of werewolf movie week. Yesterday I discussed The Howling and on Monday I talked about Silver Bullet. All of these were books I read and reviewed during werewolf novel week. Today, I go back to the beginning. The Universal Studios Wolf Man movies. This is where the current model for the modern werewolf was born. Universal made three werewolf centric movies. Although the Wolf Man would appear in several other “monster rally” movies, there were only three movies starring Wolf Man and included the Wolf Man in the title. Here are those three movies.

Werewolf of London
Werewolf of London (1935) – Contrary to what you might think, this was actually Universal Studio’s first “wolf man” movie (and widely considered the first mainstream werewolf movie).  It was released a good 6 years before the now famous Lon Chaney Jr vehicle, The Wolf Man, and starred Henry Hull as the title monster.  The legendary Jack Pierce created the wolf man makeup for use in this movie, however Henry Hull hated it and refused to wear the full wolf makeup (pansy).  Pierce would create a “less hairy” version for Hull, but then go back to the “full hairy” version for use with Chaney (who was a badass).
In this movie, Hull plays Dr Glendon, a world renowned botanist who travels to Tibet to find the elusive Mariphasa plant which only blooms in moonlight.  While there, Glendon is bitten by a creature that he leans later is a werewolf.  Glendon returns to London with his Mariphasa sample and then we meet his wife who is WAY too hot for him.  I mean, not only does Glendon look like he could be her father, but he’s also kind of a douche bag.  He doesn’t pay any attention to her and keeps himself locked away in his lab.  While sequestered in his lab Glendon keeps doing all these weird experiments to create artificial moonlight (how useful is artificial moonlight besides causing the Mariphasa plant to bloom?). Anyway, Glendon is visited by another creepy scientist, Dr Yogami, who knows all about the werewolf affliction he keeps calling Lycanthrophobia (which actually means “fear of werewolves” and not “is a werewolf”). Yogami says the Mariphasa plant can temporarily cure Lycanthrophobia (he keeps using that word) so Hull keeps trying to create his “artificial moonlight” when he finally (after about 45 minutes) turns into a damn werewolf (finally!).  This happens a few more times until he finally attacks his hot wife and is killed by police officers.  While dying, Glendon apologizes to his wife (you know, for trying to maul her) and thanks the police for killing him.
Not exactly the most “action packed” monster movie I’ve ever seen. Hull is a bit of an elitist a-hole as the main character, especially to his wife. And his obsession with creating “artificial moonlight” makes little sense. There is a good scene in the middle of the movie during a party at Glendon’s personal botanical gardens. Well, it’s good in that you see some ridiculously awesome plants including one that looks like a miniature version of the Sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi. I read somewhere that this plant was supposed to eat a child during that scene but it was deemed too graphic (or too awesome, maybe).  I say avoid this and start your werewolf journey with our next movie…

The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man (1941) – This is the movie everyone thinks of when you say “Wolf Man” or you are talking about the “original” Universal Monster movies.  Lon Chaney Jr stars as Larry Talbot who returns home after his brother’s death.  While fixing his dad’s telescope, Talbot happens to “peep” on the chick next door, Gwen.  He goes over and puts some creepy stalker moves on Gwen, who at first denies his advances. Later on, for no reason whatsoever, she caves and agrees to go on a date.  So Talbot escorts Gwen and her friend out to some old gypsy’s to have their fortunes read.  Lo and behold, the gypsy turns out to be Dracula!  Well, it’s Bela Lugosi playing the gypsy.  Anyway, turns out Bela is a werewolf, attacks and kills one of the ladies and Talbot beats him to death with a cane, but not before getting bitten.  This, of course, curses Talbot with werewolfism (and having the “werewolf poem” recited to him by every character in the movie every 5 minutes).  Talbot’s Wolf Man goes on a rampage and is finally beaten to death by the same cane that beat the gypsy Bela to death earlier in the movie.  Only Talbot gets beaten to death by his own father, The Invisible Man…or, Claude Rains, who played the Invisible Man.
Comparatively, this movie is much better than Werewolf of London. While Chaney’s Talbot does start off a bit lecherous when he puts the moves on Gwen, for the majority of the movie, he is a sympathetic character. You feel bad that he is cursed with this affliction (werewolfism). And the “full hairy” makeup by Jack Pierce is fantastic. Much better than the version used on Hull six years prior. The lady that plays Gwen, Evelyn Ankers, is really pretty. She makes a perfect scream queen and you like her character very much. It’s easy to see why this movie is still considered a classic and it also reaffirms why Wolf Man is my favorite Universal Monster.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Official Universal Studios Wolf Man books

Posted in books, monsters, movies, Universal Studios, werewolf, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2010 by Paxton

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Welcome to Day 9 of AWESOME-tober-fest 2010.  This is werewolf novel week.  Today, let’s take a look at official Universal Studios Wolf Man books.

Universal Studios has often tried to spread their popular monsters into other media besides movies.  One of those being paperback fiction.  Despite having a stable of very popular monsters, their efforts have been hit or miss.  Here are a group of fully authorized Universal Studios Wolf Man novels.

I’ll review the ones I’ve actually read.

The Wolfman novelization
The Wolfman by Jonathan Maberry – This one is the most recent.  It was released in February 2010.  This is the movie novelization of the recent Wolf Man reboot by Joe Johnston staring Benicio Del Toro and Sir Anthony Hopkins.  I haven’t read this, but I enjoyed the movie enough that I may try to grab this off Paperbackswap.com.  I know the movie had a bunch of script problems and changes, I’d be interested to see how this novel’s story is different.  If you haven’t, check out the movie.  I’ll talk more about the movie, including a review, in the next few weeks.

Blood Moon Rising
Blood Moon Rising (Universal Studios Monsters Book 2) by Larry Mike Garmon – Released in 2001, this was book 2 in a Juvenile Fiction series. I mentioned Book 3 during AWESOME-tober-fest last year because it features Frankenstein.  When I stumbled across this book at the annual library book sale this year for less than a quarter, I decided to pick it up.  And I read it.  And it sucked.  They aren’t kidding when they say JUVENILE fiction.  This book was like one of the bad Scooby Doo episodes.  The story revolves around three teens who mistakenly release the Universal Monsters into this world and must chase them all down and trap them back into their movies.  Book 1 featured Dracula.  This book features Wolf Man and the story takes place down south in the Florida swamps.  The whole book and storyline is a pale imitation of a Three Investigators or Hardy Boys book.  It may work for late elementary and junior high kids, but it’s really bad for anyone that’s any more mature than that.  I was really disappointed at the cheesiness of this book.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: The Legion of Monsters plus The Creature Commandos

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, monsters, werewolf, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by Paxton

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In the ’70s, Marvel had several “monster” characters that were fairly popular. I talked yesterday about Werewolf by Night, but there was also Man-Thing, Morbius the Living Vampire and Ghost Rider. They decided to team these guys up to see if a super team of monsters would be popular with readers. The team up would happen in 1976.

In Marvel Premiere #28 (Feb 1976), Werewolf by Night would join forces with the aforementioned Morbius the Living Vampire, Man-Thing and Ghost Rider to form the first Legion of Monsters.

Marvel Premiere #28Legion of Monsters intro

At the time, all four of these characters were very popular, so this was an interesting exercise by Marvel.  However, the story, doesn’t really live up to the idea.  In this horribly zany story a giant mountain appears in the middle of LA on the same day that Morbius, Werewolf, Man-Thing and Ghost Rider all happen to be passing through. Ghost Rider and Man-Thing are somehow drawn to the mountain while Morbius and Werewolf also make their way to the mountain, but not before they get into a fight because Morbius tries to drink Werewolf’s blood.  While investigating the mountain, some giant golden guy on a horse shows up.  This guy.

StarSeed

He calls himself StarSeed (I am not kidding, he seriously calls himself that) and in the middle of a long convoluted story about his origin, Morbius attacks and tries to drink his blood (you sense a pattern here?). Ghost Rider is hypnotized by the golden StarSeed’s beauty so he tries to fight off Morbius.  Man-Thing tries to help but Ghost Rider thinks he’s also attacking.  Goldie and all the monsters get in a fight, Ghost Rider freaks out at Man-Thing and totally runs away on his motorcycle and Werewolf is given a vicious back hand across the face. While trying to help, Man-Thing takes the giant dude down with his “touch of fear” and after conceding defeat, StarSeed uses his cosmic powers to transform everyone back to their alter egos thereby giving Morbius, Werewolf and Man-Thing a brief respite from their curses… only to change them back again 30 seconds later (what a dick). The monsters head out of town sad because they’ve killed their only chance at curing themselves and we never see anyone resolve the giant f’n mountain in the middle of LA. So, like I said, ZANY.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Dell’s Werewolf (1966)

Posted in comic books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, werewolf, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2010 by Paxton

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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.

Dell Werewolf 1

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).

Werewolf Costume

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 Werewolf #2 Dell Werewolf #3

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 1 underwater
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.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: The Astounding Wolf-Man

Posted in comic books, monsters, werewolf, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2010 by Paxton

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Here we are, Day 2 of werewolf comics week.  This year’s Halloween articles are focusing on werewolves.  I’ll be looking at werewolves in comic books all this week. Yesterday I discussed Image’s Dracula Meets The Wolf Man. Today, I’ll look at another Image comic book, The Astounding Wolf-Man.

Astounding Wolf-Man 1 Astounding Wolf-Man 3

The Astounding Wolf-Man is a comic book written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Jason Howard.  It was launched in May 2007, the first issue being given away during Free Comic Book Day. I actually talked about reading this series back in April.

The story revolves around Gary Hampton, a corporate CEO, who is violently attacked by an animal while on vacation with his family and barely survives.  Gary later learns that the animal was a werewolf and he now is cursed to turn into a werewolf during the full moon.  Gary meets Zechariah, a vampire, who teaches him to use his newly acquired werewolf abilities for good.  Gary gets a costume and starts patrolling the streets for crime as The Wolf-Man (a-la BAT-man or SPIDER-man).  Gary can change into his wolf form whenever he wants and has complete control over that form except during the full moon when the wolf completely takes over.  He also has heightened strength, speed, senses and a highly accelerated healing ability which is nearly instantaneous when he reverts to human then back to wolf.

Astounding Wolf-Man 14 Astounding Wolf-Man 5

While training with Zechariah, Gary’s home life starts to deteriorate.  His wife resents his late night adventures and his daughter is afraid of him.  After confronting a gang of werewolves one night, Gary learns that he is not an ordinary werewolf.  The wolf that attacked him was an Elder Wolf.  Centuries old and much more powerful than the mixed breed werewolves running around today.  As a result, Gary is also much more powerful than normal werewolves.  Gary is left to ponder why an Elder Wolf would attack him as they apparently haven’t been seen in hundreds of years.  Many believe they aren’t even around anymore.

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