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‘Werewolf By Night #1’ (review)

Written by Taboo & Benjamin Jackendoff
Art by Scot Eaton
Published by Marvel Comics

 

Good news, monster geeks! Marvel has brought back Werewolf By Night just in time for Halloween.

It’s always funny to me that we don’t have so many monster comics.

Monsters are damn near perfect on comic book pages, with the ways exaggerated posing and dramatic inks can really sell the nightmare while still being at some remove, unlike the movies.

And while monsters do show up plenty in superhero comics – and some supers would even count as monsters themselves – we’re still far away from the EC heyday.

That said, let’s get into Werewolf By Night #1. This incarnation of the lycanthrope has some 2020 dust on him, you can wager.

From the cover alone, the hulking monster stands behind a Native American man.

Things are going to be different this time around. As they should be, when your comic book is co-written by Taboo from The Black Eyed Peas. Yes, you read that correctly. Creative jack-of-all-trades Benjamin Jackendorff joins Taboo on writing the book, after working on Marvel’s Masters of the Sun with Taboo’s bandmate will.i.am.

(Side note: Did you know the Peas are back in 2020, sans Fergie, with a Latinx pop dance album with today’s hot artists such as J. Balvin, Becky G and Maluma? It’s straight Zumba, y’all.)

Taboo himself is Mexican-American and has Native American heritage, and there’s much care in trying to naturally and accurately depict Indian country and reservation issues. Those topics are woven into the plot and drive the action: economic exploitation by the pharma firm that essentially is re-colonizing the rez dovetails with a story of Natives gone missing, a timely note on a terrifying problem with missing women on reservations.

The story opens in the Arizona desert with some drunk bros firing high-caliber weapons on a quote-unquote hunting trip. A hip-looking young woman on a dirt bike is quickly identified as a Native by the bigoted bros, and she warns them about hunting on tribal lands and warns them of a creature “come to get all the crazy drunk jerks who don’t respect other people’s property.”

Enter the werewolf, who scares off the men, Scot Eaton and Scott Hanna’s monster artwork fluid and confident. Soon after we find out he’s Jake, a 17-year-old Hopi kid who inherited the wolf powers as a family curse. Molly is the hipster with radical dreams, Jake’s Gal Friday.

The comic splits time with Red Wolf, a Native American hero that Taboo and Jackendorff visited in a previous story appearing in Marvel Comics #1000. Red Wolf’s now working with the federal government tracking superpowered teens as an offshoot of the “Outlawed” storyline. Just as Jake is paired up with Molly, Red Wolf is partnered with JJ, who’s giving off strong Jessica Chastain-in-Zero Dark Thirty vibes.

It’ll be interesting to see where Red Wolf and Jake’s stories converge, because you know they will, once we see Jake working as a janitor at Life Pharmaceuticals, the big employer/current encroacher on the reservation. And battles involving nature, technology, magic and monsters will ensue.

This issue is a fine start. I’m a little shaky about where the politics of the series will go – we’ve already got a rant about food additives and video games in here – but this is a fun read from a perspective you don’t see a lot of in pop culture or anywhere else.

 

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