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Published October 24, 2023

Who Is Werewolf by Night? The Official Marvel Guide

Everything you want to know about Jack Russell: A werewolf hero with a strange family curse.

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LEGION OF MONSTERS: WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2007) #1
LEGION OF MONSTERS: WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2007) #1

In 80-plus years of stories, many creepy characters and nightmarish creations have made a name for themselves in Marvel Comics. But few have done it like Jack “Werewolf by Night” Russell! One of fans’ favorite lycanthropically gifted heroes, Russell started out as a teen who had to cope with a furry alter ego while dealing with his family’s dark and arcane ties to the Darkhold.

With over half a century of history in the books, this Werewolf has got as many stories as buried bones in a backyard. For newcomers to Werewolf by Night, here are the entry points and questions you’ll want to know.

WHO IS JACK RUSSELL?

Jacob “Jack” Russell was born to Gregory and Laura Russoff in his father’s homeland of Transylvania. In the first years of Jack’s life, the family lived in Gregory’s ancestral home, but once it was revealed he was a werewolf, Gregory was killed by hunters the following day.

Reeling from her husband’s death and armed with the knowledge of his curse, Laura gathered Jack and youngest daughter Lissa and took them to the United States where she married Philip Russell and established the family in California. Jack lived a comfortable life thanks to his stepdad’s money, but everything changed in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #2 on the cusp of Jack’s eighteenth birthday. Later, it was revealed that Philip is Jack and Lissa’s uncle because he is Gregory’s brother. And if you think that’s complicated, wait for what happens next...

Jack Russell’s first appearance in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #2.
Jack Russell’s first appearance in MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #2.

HOW DID JACK BECOME A WEREWOLF BY NIGHT?

The history of lycanthropy—or the ability to turn into a werewolf—stretches back centuries in the Russoff family. This was revealed after a good old-fashioned monster mash between Jack and the world’s most famous bloodsucker in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (1972) #15. To seek out the truth about his family history, Jack traveled to the Russoff’s Transylvanian manor. After a run-in with Dracula, Jack found his father’s diary which explained how, back in 1795, his ancestor Grigory succeeded in staking Dracula and tossing his coffin in a nearby river.

Afterwards Grigory ran into a mysterious woman named Lydia who soon revealed herself to a be a werewolf, passing the curse on to him—and his entire lineage—with a single bite. In the wake of World War II, another Russoff attained the magical tome called the Darkhold and read it by moonlight which reactivated the curse of the wolf. Jack knew nothing of this when, on his eighteenth birthday, he first became the Werewolf by Night.

[RELATED: The Darkhold: Explained]

The beginning of the Russoff family curse in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (1972) #15.
The beginning of the Russoff family curse in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (1972) #15.

HOW DID BECOMING A WEREWOLF IMPACT JACK’S LIFE?

Upon first becoming a werewolf, Jack used his abilities to get revenge on the man his stepfather hired to kill his mother. After that, his sole mission became recovering any information about his unusual family legacy. In 1972, Jack Russell’s popularity with readers earned him a solo series, WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, that ran for 43 issues until 1977. During that time, he also headlined GIANT-SIZE WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (1974). Along the way, Jack dodged attacks launched by The Committee, met the mischievous mage Taboo, and began dating his daughter, Topaz.

At first, Russell transformed during the full moon and the days before and after. He traveled the world encountering many new faces, all while undergoing the transformations he was subjected to by the curse. Early on, Jack became aware of his family’s history and even ownership over the Darkhold, a relationship that has only deepened since.

The Werewolf versus the mercenary Moon Knight in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (1972) #32.
The Werewolf versus the mercenary Moon Knight in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (1972) #32.

NOTABLE TEAM-UPS?

Though he mostly skulked around the darker corners of the House of Ideas, Russell did encounter his fair share of more traditional heroes. Moon Knight made his debut in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32 before branching off into his own solo series. And, in 1973, the wolfy wonder had a run-in with Spider-Man in the pages of MARVEL TEAM-UP (1972) #12 before they worked together against the evil magician Moondark. To finish out his own solo series, Russell teamed up Iron Man to take down the Masked Marauder.

Since the end of his ongoing solo series, Werewolf by Night has been called upon by a variety of heroes to deal with more monstrous threats. He fought alongside the Sentinel of Liberty during Jack’s time with the Night Shift in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #330-331. Russell also showed up to take care of Rahne Sinclair—also known as the New Mutant Wolfsbane—leading up to the birth of her were-child in X-FACTOR (2005) #222-224. When Daredevil needed to learn more about the Darkhold, Doctor Strange passed along Russell’s name leading to a meet-up in DAREDEVIL (2011) #32-33. Werewolf by Night is well-known to the heroes, but only called upon when darkness threatens the light.

Werewolf by Night assists Wolfsbane in X-FACTOR (2005) #222.
Werewolf by Night assists Wolfsbane in X-FACTOR (2005) #222.

SO, LONE WOLF OR TEAM PLAYER?

While Jack Russell might operate on the fringes of the super hero world, he is a mainstay of the monster community. Notably, he’s mixed it up with Dracula ever since their first crossover in TOMB OF DRACULA (1972) #18 and WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #15, and the two have crossed paths many times since. In MARVEL PREMIERE (1972) #28, Jack joined up with Morbius, Ghost Rider: Johnny Blaze, and Man-Thing to form a loose knit group called the Legion of Monsters. This name was coined for a black-and-white anthology magazine in 1972, however the gang got back together with a few new members in LEGION OF MONSTERS (2011). This run co-starred monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone, one of Jack’s former flings.

Also, during the Punisher’s time as a patchwork monster known as “Franken-Castle,” Russell helped introduce the former Frank to the Monster Metropolis community in PUNISHER (2009) #11-16 and FRANKENCASTLE (2010) #17-21. A whole city under Manhattan for supernatural creatures, Monster Metropolis is now an established corner of the Marvel Universe, often protected by Werewolf by Night and his ilk.

Elsa Bloodstone and Jack Russell meet again in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2023) #1.
Elsa Bloodstone and Jack Russell meet again in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2023) #1.

MEET THE OTHER WEREWOLVES BY NIGHT

Many other werewolves exist in the Marvel Universe—heck, even Captain America was briefly turned into one—but a few others have also gone by the Werewolf by Night moniker. In LEGION OF MONSTERS: WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2007) #1, Jack met a fellow werewolf named Rhona who he rode off with after taking out some attackers. But she has not been seen since.

More recently, in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2020), readers met Jake Gomez, a 17-year-old from the Hopi Reservation. His lycanthropy was passed down biologically, but his transformation is triggered by intense emotions, not the changing cycle of the moon. He came out the other side of a conflict with Life Pharmaceuticals but gained several new enemies in the process. Today, Gomez continues to hone his skills as the new Werewolf by Night, all while learning how to better control—and adapt—his animal instincts.

Jake Gomez shares his origin in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2020) #1.
Jake Gomez shares his origin in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2020) #1.

LATEST SIGHTINGS?

Even with a new Werewolf by Night out there stalking the streets, Jack Russell is still out on the prowl. He recently caught up with an old acquaintance in MOON KNIGHT ANNUAL (2022) #1, though the reunion was less than pleasant. This issue did reveal a new aspect of Jack’s life: He is now considered the King of All Wolves, though you’ll have to read the issue in full to learn about the full scope of that role!

Russell also returned to the spotlight in this year’s WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2023) #1. As it happened, both he and former flame Elsa Bloodstone independently stormed Doktor Nekromantic’s castle to save a girl named Charlotte. Instead, they fought off extradimensional beings called the Kings of the Suffering Wastes who wanted to take over their bodies and rule Earth. You know, fairly standard stuff for a werewolf and a monster hunter!

Werewolf by Night and Elsa Bloodstone fend off a new enemy in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2023) #1.
Werewolf by Night and Elsa Bloodstone fend off a new enemy in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2023) #1.

For more Werewolf by Night appearances, keep your eyes adjusted to the darkness… or join Marvel Unlimited today to read all of his adventures in full.

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