Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Captain America: Man & Wolf Review (Mark Gruenwald, Rik Levins)


As weird as the Superior Spider-Man pitch must’ve been – Peter body swaps with Doc Ock and becomes a ghost in his mind – it’s turned out to be a really amazing, well-written story arc, thanks in large part to Dan Slott’s talent and vision. Marvel are clearly happy to push the boat out with nutso storylines, and I’m happy to read them (what, you read superhero comics for “realism”?) but sometimes they can go a bit wrong, like they did with Captain America: Man & Wolf, the storyline where Cap becomes a werewolf and punches a druid!

Cap goes looking for John Jameson, J. Jonah Jameson’s son, who was also the Avengers driver at the time (!?) and has gone missing. Cap discovers that he’s been captured by a group of villains called Dredmund, Moonhunter, Deadly Nightshade and Doctor Druid. They’re creating an army of werewolves and Dredmund is trying to become an ultimate cosmic werewolf called Starwolf! This book is so 90s…

The story is good as an idea but is written in a stupid, boring and predictable way and the characters are just awful. Dredmund?! Hmm, how do we make this nerdy druid sound evil… I know, let’s pun-up the name Edmund! Moonhunter?! He doesn’t hunt moons so… I have no idea. I guess the moon and werewolves are connected and he’s the werewolf wrangler but really what a terrible name. I suppose Werewolfhunter was a bit too on the nose? “Moonhunter” is just dumb though and reeks of Liefeld. He does have a flying motorcycle though so that’s very cool in a Saints Row way. 

Do you know how to spot a 90s Marvel villain? Look at their outfit – is it black and covered in spikes? They’re a villain. Deadly Nightshade is a doctor (!?) yet wears an insane S&M outfit decorated with spikes and barbed wire! How would such an outfit benefit her medical work?! Are they sterilised? 

And why an army of werewolves anyway? Are they some kind of perfect killing machine? They can still be stopped by silver bullets. Pit them against a Sentinel and let’s see who wins! And Dredmund – a cosmic werewolf called Starwolf?! Was Gruenwald on drugs when he wrote this drivel? 

Man & Wolf isn’t bad because it’s Captain America becoming a werewolf, you can do whacky comics and still make them enjoyable; it’s crap mainly because Gruenwald’s writing is so flat and dull and the story plays out in such an uninspired way. Characters’ thought bubbles are constantly describing what we’re seeing on the page and reminding the reader what their (often bizarre) motivations are, villains are always announcing their evil plans aloud to no-one in particular – it’s the kind of writing straight out of the Chris Claremont school, and it reads in such an amateurish way compared to today’s more sophisticated comics writing. The art is ok but Levins’ style isn’t that different from a dozen other artists drawing at this time. It’s basically John Byrne-lite. 

Captain America: Man & Wolf is basically a cheesy b-movie featuring Marvel characters (why the hell were Wolverine and Cable in this again?!). It’s got camp value and is ridiculous throughout so if you like bad comics (like some people enjoy watching bad movies), I suppose as a curio it’s worth a look. But besides the stupidity factor which made me laugh several times, I didn’t enjoy reading it and can’t recommend it to anyone. Want to read a great Captain America book? Check out The Winter Soldier and Living Legend. 

Dredmund… hehe! AHAHAHAHAHA!! (Brain starts melting out of nose)

Captain America: Man & Wolf

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