Superman #422 (1986)

Superman #422 (August, 1986)
“Dark Moon Rising!”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Penciller – Curt Swan
Inkers – Larry Mahlstedt & Tom Yeates
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.75

While I’m still relatively new to the comics blogging world, it’s not often I get a whole lot of feedback… much less that of the critical variety.  I have received a handful of critical messages… which really comes down to how it seems like I enjoy everything I discuss and review.  I’ll admit to the fact that there are very few negative reviews here at the ol’ blog… not due to my being a DC “homer” or anything… just for the fact that I’d much rather revisit and discuss stories that I enjoy.  There’s plenty out there that I don’t dig… as well as a bunch that I think is just plain lousy.

That brings us to today’s Boo, Haunted Blog feature… a just barely pre-Crisis offering from the Super-folks.

We open with a man being chased down a back alley.  He is injured and bleeding, and the mob grows closer.  He cuts down into the subway tunnels and onto the tracks… the mob is still hot on his trail.  He suddenly undergoes a transformation… his teeth grow sharp, and the bottom half of his face forms into a monstrous lupine muzzle.  Our man is a werewolf.

He lashes out at his pursuers… but of particular interest, it does not appear as though he is trying to harm them (though the hunger is there)… he simply wishes to get away.  A train comes barreling down the track, and our werewolf friend leaps though the conductor’s window to facilitate his escape.  Again… although his instinct is to feed on the poor conductor, he does not harm him.

The conductor radios for help… a call which is overheard by Superman.  He soars down to the subway, and before ya know it… he’s standing before the werewolf… who promptly whups his big blue butt.  I’ve never been completely clear on Superman’s magic weakness… with my admittedly-limited pre-Crisis knowledge, it always felt as though they used it in whatever way best served the story.  Anyhoo, during the fight, the werewolf scratches Superman’s cheek… actually drawing blood.  With Superman down and out, the werewolf flees.

Superman pulls himself together just in time to realize that the train is a runaway… something he’ll most certainly have to address.  In the periphery, he notices a woman about to be struck by a car… before he can decide which event to deal with first, the woman is rescued… by the werewolf.  Very curious… Anyhoo, Superman rights the train, setting it down gently without any injury or harm coming to the passengers.

Later, Superman takes some blood from his facial wound and tests it on the Super-Computer at the Fortress of Solitude.  He has a sneaking suspicion he just had a run-in with a werewolf… like, duh… but performs the analysis just to be certain.

Meanwhile in Metropolis… the werewolf attacks an armored car, stealing it’s loot and murdering the driver.  We shift ahead a bit to find the werewolf huddled in a corner where he changes back to his human form… while at the same time, we get a glimpse of a crew of scientists who, fearing for their safety, are dead-set on tracking the werewolf down.

The following day we rejoin Clark at the Daily Planet.  Lois is getting ready for her big date with famous movie-star Jonathan J. Wyatt.  Jimmy’s impressed… and calls J.J. a hunk.  Clark is… less impressed, and refers to J.J. as a “wolf”… and, no… spoiler alert… he ain’t the werewolf.

Superman returns to the Fortress for his test results, and wouldn’tcha know it… he was in a tussle with a werewolf.  Before he can think on it much more, Inspector Henderson calls in a video S.O.S. directly to the Fortress.  Apparently, a group of scientists from… ahem… Lupus Labs have information on the werebeast.

Meanwhile in Metropolis… a jeweler leaves his store carrying $300,000 in jewels in a briefcase.  The werewolf is laying in wait… and when the time is right, springs into action… killing the man and stealing the loot.  Superman arrives just in time to “call it”, and proceeds to pursue the werewolf thief.

In the chase, he just happens to run directly into the scientists from Lupus.  They are quick to spill the beans on our werewolf pal… ya see, they were trying to cure blood diseases and began experimenting with radiated blood.  They learned pretty quick that lycanthropy was a result.  One scientist, Lawrence, had just gone through a messy divorce and decided it would be a wonderful idea to steal the serum and use it himself!  As luck would have it, there is still time to cure him… just so long as they do so before tomorrow night’s full moon.  Superman strokes his chin pensively… he appears to be on to something.

A bit earlier, we saw the werewolf enter an electrical plant… we now check in with him again, only to find that he is trying to electrocute himself to rid himself of the wolven curse.  Before he can seal the deal, Superman swoops in and socks ‘im in the jaw.  Well, this don’t make ol’ Lawrence happy… and so, he thrashes Superman again.  This time, however, he adds a bit of insult to injury in that he… get this… steals Superman’s costume… leaving him completely naked!  Whaaaaaaaat?

The Superwerewolf takes his leave, and Nuderman bee-lines it to a sporting goods store where he… I’d have to assume… super-speed-steals a tracksuit.  The following morning, we get a bit of Lois drama.  She thinks she’s been stood up by J.J., however receives two-dozen roses as an apology for his being “fogged in” in Los Angeles.  Lois is so excited she promises that she’ll be “howling” that night.  A-hem.

Clark asks Jimmy to do some digging on Lawrence Thomas, and Jim is able to provide him with the new address for the ex-wife and their two kids out in Santa Monica, California.  Superman high-tails it west, and gets the deets on LT.  It isn’t long before Superman tracks his man… who is really very apologetic for all he’s done, and is ready and willing to spill the beans on everything.

We check in with the scientist again… and everything comes to a head.  We learn that the scientists are ALL werewolves, and Lawrence was the only one still with-conscience.  They wanted him “cured” so he would not be their equal.  It was they who murdered the armored car driver and jeweler.  Lawrence has not killed anyone.  Superman claims to have noticed that Lawrence is left-handed… while the murderers were right-handed.  Yeah, that’s the ticket, Mr. stripped-naked.

And so, a battle rages.  Superman is overwhelmed by his magical foes… it is left to Lawrence to figure a way out of this one.  As luck would have it, Metropolis is in the midst of a lightning storm.  LT yanks an… antenna?  flagpole?  long metal pole out of the roof of the building and uses it as a makeshift lightning rod… taking out all the evil wolfmen, and curing himself in the process.  Superman informs him that he was the hero on this day… and we close out the pre-Crisis Superman with a corny “wolf” joke.  Which, I suppose may be apropos, considering the surname of the fella writing it…

Yeah… not Marv’s best work.  This was kind of a dud.

I suppose this may be due to this being the, for all intents and purposes… final issue of this volume of Superman.  The following issue would be part one of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? and the issue after that picks up with the Man of Steel continuity.  Maybe that’s why this one is so weak… just filling time until the shift.

This story didn’t even seem to need Superman in it.  The “good” werewolf neutralized the threat with his makeshift lightning rod… all Superman did was, um… get scratched in the face… and, uh… get stripped naked.  I mean really, the dude was stripped completely naked after a fight.  Definitely not his finest moment, right?

Not a whole lot more to say on this one.  It’s got an amazing (and scary) Brian Bolland cover… which nothing on the inside has any hope of living up to… both written and drawn.  Again, it just feels like an inventory story that they had to roll out before Man of Steel… or hell, maybe Bolland just drew an awesome picture of a werewolf Superman that DC wanted to use, and had Marv write a story around that?  Who knows… I’d say sure-fire skippable if it wasn’t for the cover.

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