The story of werewolves begins with the ancient Wolf God/Demon, believed to be one of the Elderspawn, the children of the Elder Gods. Millions, possibly billions, of years ago, the Wolf Demon spawned a race of Wolf-Men who warred against other Elderspawn such as the Bird-Women, Harpies, Bat-Men, Flying Fiends, Demons, Goblins, Serpent Men (spawn of the Elder God Set), and Spider-Men (spawn of Omm). Some of these races enslaved the developing humans, but by 20,000 B.C., most of the Elderspawn had been slaughtered or driven into seclusion, briefly rising to challenge societies such as Valusia and Atlantis. The Wolf-Men could assume human form, and humans scratched or bitten by them became Wolf-Men in turn. They could survive most injuries, but were vulnerable to silver and fire. Many Wolf-Men died in the Great Cataclysm of 18,000 B.C., and their ultimate fate is unknown.
Following the Cataclysm, the Fortisquian colonizers from the planet Arcturus came to Earth to investigate the fate of the Savage Land, which had been created by the alien Nuwali for the enigmatic Beyonders. A trio of colonizers based in the Savage Land acted as humanity's Caretakers. Amongst many other activities, they created the modern incarnation of werewolves: combining advanced genetic re-engineering science with earthborn magic (apparently tapping into the Wolf-Demon's power), they bound the spirit and DNA of the captured wolf Windracer into a humanoid. This hybrid, later known as Greysire, spread this gift to humanity via scratches and bites, and then by heredity. The resultant race was known as brethren by wolves and werewolves by humanity, but the gift became a curse as man fell out of harmony with his primal self.
While reports of lycanthropy (becoming a werewolf) in the Russoff line stretch back many centuries, the first confirmed manifestation is Grigori Russoff in 1795. Dracula slew Grigori's wife Louisa after he refused to acknowledge Dracula's primacy upon his return to Transylvania. Grigori then ambushed and destroyed Dracula, but was turned into a werewolf by Lydia, a werewolf formerly imprisoned by the vampire lord. Grigori took a second wife, but accounts vary as to why lycanthropy failed to pass to his descendents. Sometime prior to May, 1930, Grigori's descendent, Gregor, obtained the legendary Darkhold scrolls, binding them back into book form. Reading lycanthropy's origins in the Darkhold under a full moon triggered the dormant curse, turning Gregor into a werewolf. Gregor further transcribed much of the Darkhold into Grigori's diary, essentially creating a Darkhold copy, which he used as his own diary.
Perhaps seeking a cure, Gregor sold part of his estate - including Wundagore Mountain - to Jonathon Drew, who shared it with partner Herbert Wyndham (the future High Evolutionary). The Russoff werewolf slew Jonathon's wife, Merriem, and Wyndham designed a suit of silver-coated armor to protect himself, enabling Russoff's capture. Russoff stayed with the Evolutionary, who kept the werewolf safely contained for decades. Russoff eventually used the Darkhold to summon Chthon to cure him, and the Elder God nearly broke through the earthly plane; but the sorcerer Magnus forced Russoff to banish Chthon, who lashed out with a parting blast that slew Gregor. Despite contrary accounts, the Gregor Russoff who stayed with the High Evolutionary seems to have been the grandfather (or great-grandfather) of Jack Russell. Having the same name and presumably using the same diary contributed to earlier confusion. It would seem more likely that the elder Gregor was the one who transcribed the Darkhold into the diary.
Decades later, another Gregor Russoff married Laura, the former girlfriend of his younger brother Philip. Jacob (later Jack) was born soon after, and Laura was pregnant with Lissa within two years of marriage; however, when lightning struck Russoff's Transylvanian castle during a full moon, the werewolf Gregor escaped confinement and began attacking villagers, who tracked down and killed Russoff with silver bullets. Gregor's mother, Maria, was stoned and driven from the village, living with Gypsies and learning magic. After Gregor's death, Laura found Philip - who had moved to Los Angeles, anglicizing his name to Russell - and they married after a year; Jack and Lissa remained unaware of Philip's past.
Approximately fifteen years later, the criminal Committee learned of Gregor's curse and blackmailed Philip, threatening to reveal his secrets. To protect Laura's name, Philip paid them but had second thoughts and cancelled payment, causing the Committee to send Max Grant to kill Laura. Critically injured in a car crash on Jack's 18th birthday, Laura barely had time to tell Jack about his true father and the curse of the werewolf, making Jack promise not to harm Philip, before dying. Having inherited lycanthropy the night before, Jack slew Grant, but also wrongly blamed Philip for some time. Laura left Castle Russoff in Jack's name, but Philip, the trustee, sold the castle to Miles Blackgar, who had it moved to an island off California's coast.
Jack spent the next few years transforming on the three nights of the full moon into savage werewolf form. He learned of the Darkhold from Nathan and Agatha Timly, who briefly kidnapped the Werewolf and met grisly ends. Befriending writer Buck Cowan, Jack sneaked into Blackgar's castle and stole the Darkhold, encountering Miles Blackgar and his daughter Marlene, whose petrifying power slew both Blackgars. After fighting off the deformed Cephalos' plot to drain his power to stabilize Cephalos' form, Jack had Father Ramon Joaquez translate the Darkhold. The priest died after being possessed by the Darkhold's former custodian, 12th century Mad Monk Aelfric, and the indestructible Darkhold vanished. Jack encountered Joshua Kane, who hunted the Werewolf, and his brother, Luther Kane, who offered to prevent Lissa from becoming a werewolf in exchange for Jack kidnapping billionaire recluse Judson Hemp; he also met mentalist Swami Rihva, who sought the Werewolf's blood to reveal the treasure-map of the ancient sorcerer Kaman-Ru on his "Bloodstone"; the possessing demon Krogg; and Spider-Man and Moondark the Magician. Jack then fought the sonic-weapons of Sarnak, his first brush with the criminal Committee who wished to enslave the Werewolf.
After fighting the sociopathic Hangman (Harlan Krueger), Jack was entranced by Topaz, the familiar of the sorcerer Taboo, who sought the Darkhold. Taboo had used the tome decades before to grant his son, Algon, a golden touch, but had lost the book in mid-spell, trapping Algon in a mindless state. Lacking the Darkhold, Taboo transferred Philip Russell's mind into Algon, but both Algon and Taboo died, restoring Philip, who explained Laura's death and reconciled with Jack and Lissa. Traveling to Transylvania alongside Topaz, with whom he had bonded, Jack discovered the Russoff diary/Darkhold copy, the Werewolf battled Dracula, and the book was lost in the Alps. Jack and Topaz encountered the kyphotic Half-Mad before returning to the U.S., and Jack fought the Committee's Behemoth robot and then Ma Mayhem, assisted by werewolf Raymond Coker. Jack joined the newly-mutated Tigra against Hydra, battled vampires Louis Belski and Liza Pyne, opposed Ma Mayhem and her ally Baron Thunder, and joined Coker against Lou Hackett (a policeman transformed into a werewolf by a magic ring), who was killed in the struggle. The Werewolf joined Frankenstein's Monster against the Satanic Brotherhood of Baal (who had abducted Lissa), then fought the disfigured Atlas and the Jekyll/Hyde-like DePrayve. Jack briefly returned to Transylvania following Topaz's psychic summons and encountered Maria Russoff, who used Gypsy magic to raise zombies to slay the villagers who had driven her off. Maria sacrificed herself to save Jack from her zombies upon learning he was her grandson.
In Blackgar's Castle, Werewolf, Topaz, and the repentant spirit fragment of Taboo battled the necromancer Glitternight, who transformed Lissa Russell into a were-demon; the process of curing Lissa also purged her of the threat of lycanthropy, though she would still pass it on to her children. After battling Morbius the Living Vampire and slaying the demon worshipped by Brad Wrangle, the Werewolf was briefly transported to the divided dimension Biphasia by Satanist Joaquin Zaire, and he aided Paingloss against the sorcerer Sardanus. During a subsequent ski trip, the Werewolf nearly slew Buck Cowan, after which he was captured by the Committee-paid mercenary Moon Knight, who set him free when he realized Jack's humanity and the Committee's intentions. The Werewolf joined the Ghost Rider, the Man-Thing and Morbius in unwittingly slaying the benevolent alien Starseed, who intended to cure them all.
The Werewolf, Topaz, and others then battled and were nearly driven mad by the ghost of 19th-century black magician Belaric Marcosa, but they freed the trapped spirits of Marcosa's enemies, who destroyed him, and the grateful spirits healed Buck. The enigmatic Three Who Are All (Burning Snake, Goat Child, and Hooded One) - an ancient extradimensional group who had formerly included Glitternight and a fifth member, Fire-Eyes - sent Jack, Topaz, Raymond Coker, and Brother Voodoo to Haiti, where the Werewolf and Fire-Eyes destroyed Glitternight. In the process, Jack gained control of his Werewolf persona, though he still only transformed under moonlight and still lost control during the three nights of the full moon.
The Werewolf joined with Iron Man against the Maggia's Masked Marauder and his Tri-Animan, and he teamed with Spider-Woman against Morgan Le Fay, who sought the Darkhold; the mercenary Enforcer; and mad scientist Dr. Karl Malus, who briefly controlled Russell against her. Russell also joined Spider-Man and Ghost Rider against the Tatterdemalion, former agent of Sarnak. After being temporarily captured alongside a number of costumed adventurers by the Locksmith, Russell began mutating into more savage and lupine form, a late effect from Malus' treatment. He fled Satanists Morning Star (Schuyler Belial) and his Left Hand Path, who wished to use his blood to become werewolves, then sought aid from the now-human Michael Morbius in controlling his savage self, leading to a battle with the West Coast Avengers. With assistance from Iron Man, he later saved Lissa from Morgan Le Fay's attempt to possess her.
Subsequently mind-controlled into joining the mostly criminal Night Shift by Dansen Macabre, Russell stayed with them, allowing Macabre to keep the Werewolf tractable. Russell was the only member who knew their leader, the Shroud, was using the group to oppose other criminals and to prevent them from harming innocents. After encounters with Captain America, Moon Knight, and the Avengers, the Werewolf eventually developed resistance to Macabre's powers and turned on the Night Shift, after which he went solo. After battling the Hulk in the Midwest, Jack contacted his father Gregor's spirit to cure his lycanthropy, but was told he would die unless he accepted his beast. During the ensuing battle with the religious zealot Silver Dagger and the Braineaters, a cult of werewolves transformed in the past by Russell, Jack fully accepted his wolf-self, granting him full control and the best of both selves.
Russell assisted Dr. Strange against the alien Possessors, the Night Shift against an L.A. street gang, and Ghost Rider against a new group of Braineaters; Jack also narrowly survived a battle with Sabretooth and fought an unidentified Wendigo in Canada. Russell was captured by criminal scientist Nightshade who used his blood to create the Night Patrol, a group of werewolves in Starkesboro, Massachusetts. Captain America - also transformed into a werewolf - freed Russell and led the werewolves to defeat Nightshade's master, Dredmund Druid, who had used the Godstone (former gem of the Man-Wolf) to briefly become the powerful Starwolf. The Night Patrol was cured, after which Russell was drawn into a conflict involving the Midnight Sons and was slain by Switchblade (the insane Darkhold-powered Blade), but Jack was revived once Professor Louise Hastings broke Switchblade's spell. Russell befriended the again pseudo-vampiric (and now demon-possessed) Morbius, had a vision of advertisements on the moon causing mass insanity, and fought the Lilin Goblins, Mr. Hyde, and the sadist Morphine. Jack also had an affair with Morbius's possessed former girlfriend Martine Bancroft.
Jack again began losing control of the Werewolf, locking himself in a cage under full moons, and even glimpsing visions of Hell as he transformed. From the Cult of the Third Moon's dying leader, Walter Clark, Russell learned that only the legendary Wolfblade could control his lupine self. With the aid of Smedley, a mysterious benefactor, Russell recovered all three parts of the Wolfblade, battled the original Wolf Demon in a branch of Hell, completed the puzzle by reaccepting both selves, and seemingly regained control. However, after Jack visited friends Freddie and the disfigured Lump, Smedley sent him to investigate a series of killings, and evidence pointed to Jack as the killer. As Russell began to mutate further, Smedley said Jack just hadn't been careful enough in his wish to be freed from the wolf demon and that he must embrace the disease or it would destroy him. Uncertain how to accomplish this, Jack found a confidant in Lump, who cared for the Werewolf as he hid out in the sewers. While Jack's new girlfriend, Roxanna, remained blissfully unaware of his dual existence, the Werewolf was tracked down by a pair of detectives, escaping only after they were slain by the Cult of the Third Moon. Though Jack's subsequent fate is unknown, he was later seen sensing the arrival of the mystic assassin Hellphyr.