Marvel Spotlight #2, Marvel Comics, February 1972
This week’s Spotlight came to me while I was chatting with some friends about Sherlock Holmes. We were talking about the latest BBC TV episodes starring Benedict Cumberbatch (the Marvel Doc Strange).
We talked about how Sherlock was a public domain character but was never successfully adapted into comics. The conversation ended up over at the old Universal Monsters for some reason and we talked about Marvel’s Bronze Age foray into the Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf characters.
Did you know those Marvel comics and the likes of Ghost Rider, Son of Satan others were in part made possible thanks to Amazing Spider-Man #96? I digress with this blatant nod to the old Nelson de Rocha Spotlight #197.
Anyway it was Spotlight time so I revisited those old Bronze Age Marvel macabre books and as a result I can present this week’s Undervalued Spotlight as Marvel Spotlight #2.
Marvel Spotlight #2 features the 1st appearance of Jack Russell (Jacob Russoff) and the Werewolf by Night.
Of the three classic monsters Marvel chose to introduce Werewolf by Night first, followed by Dracula in April 1972 and Frankenstein in January 1973. Werewolf by Night appeared in Spotlight #3 and #4 before getting his own title in September 1972. Werewolf by Night lasted 43 issues and famously introduced Moon Knight in issue #32.
In my opinion Werewolf was the most removed adaptation, the one that best stamped his own unique identity. Perhaps this was easy considering the fact that Dracula and Frankenstein were the more defined characters and Marvel tried to stay close to the source material. Maybe that’s why the Werewolf character feels the most “Marvelly” to me. “Marvelly”? Yeah as in the way Marvel takes characters and makes them their own like Thor, Conan etc.
I think it’s the alter ego that makes it work. Jack Russell can be written into contemporary times and flushing his character out makes the Werewolf more unique by being closely tied to his alter ego. I’m not sure I’m explaining this right but for me it works and for me Werewolf by Night was the most “Marvelly”.
The talent that put this comic together is impressive, Roy Thomas and Gene Conway wrote and scripted while Mike Ploog did the art, and Neal Adams did the pencils on the cover.
Marvel Spotlight #2 officially belongs in that most beautiful of Marvel collecting strains, the November 1971 issues or more accurately the 25 cent Giant issues that bridged the cover price rise from 15 cents to 20 cents. These books range from October 1971 to February 1972, have a read of the comments section in Spotlight #94 for more.
There has been talk of Disney/Marvel starting up a macabre universe for future movies and while we can’t be sure that Werewolf by Night would fit in there somewhere we can be sure that speculation on the book should heat up with any announcements.
The book has been flat for the last 5 years but I think it’s poised to gain some value. I’d concentrate on at least a 9.0 but a nice tight 9.2 would be a keeper for this comic.
The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $126/$281/$435 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.
Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.
- 1st appearance of Jack Russell/Werewolf by Night
- Part of the massively popular Marvel November 1971 25 cent issue collecting strain
- The most “Marvelly” of monsters!
I already put my money where my mouth is on this one, Walt. About a year ago, my LCS called me to say a they got in a high-grade batch of bronze keys. The owner started naming off books; when he got to this one, I changed direction and drove immediately there. Upon arrival, I found two copies to choose from, so I bought both.
I like all your actual reasons (Adams, square-bound, ’71 price transition, 1st bronze Marvel monster) and speculatives (Jack Russell could be recycled easily, supernatural universe to screen, etc.) and I’ll add one: I CANNOT believe no creator has decided that a recycled Jack Russell isn’t a perfect fit for the new Defenders they are defining via Netflix — but if all the Moon Knight speculation eventually pans out, could Russell be far behind?
these can be had for less than guide. 9.0’s low $200, and 9.2’s low $300
but there’s a big jump in 9.4/9.6 prices.
they are a steal all things considered
Good call on Russell and the Defenders Gene. Loads of potential on this book, the things it has going for it now surely assure current value,, not much downside to jumping in on this one especially at the prices Nestor has quoted.
I picked up two high grades and a mid 8 for a song about twelve or so years ago. I love this era of comics and Marvel in particular and love the Universal Monsters, so Werewolf by Night, Frankenstein, Tomb of Dracula and Ghost Rider have all been the biggest part of my collecting (along with my precious 80’s X-MEN.) Even now at current prices I think you’re absolutely right, it’s undervalued. There are some hurdles to collecting the series though, as I’m sure you are all well aware Werewolf by Night #32 introduced Moon Knight and is one of the most overvalued bronze keys in my opinion. Great post as always.
Sorry Walt, but I have to correct you here. The other writer, along with Roy (and also, I believe, Jean) Thomas, was Gerry Conway, not Gene. It’s interesting to note too that Ploog would go on within a year to do Frankenstein, so he must have been doing something right. And…don’t forget Tom Palmer’s first-rate inking on that Adams cover. No wonder they picked him to ink Gene Colan’s Tomb of Dracula a couple of months later.Great pick!
By the way, I do think you’re right about the connection to Amazing Spider-man #96. The end of the Comics Code restrictions on horror in the title was probably directly responsible for the creation of Morbius only a few issues later, and then the floodgates opened.
Yes of course! Thanks for the corrections and additions Mel.
Mike Ploog had a real nice Will Eisner feel happening on both Werewolf by Night and Frankenstein.The whole Tomb of Dracula run seems undervalued to me.I just picked up a tight TofD #1 CGC 7.5 signed by Neal Adams for $132. Unreal!
That is one sweet deal you made on that TofD#1. I had forgotten that Neal Adams did the cover for that one, yet another connection to Werewolf by Night and the other horror titles. I was crazy enough to sell my complete run during one of our cross-country relocations a few decades back. Those books cemented my love of Gene Colan’s work even more so than his Daredevil run. Sadly through the years my Colan holdings have dwindled down to just a couple of Daredevils ( including #44 with that beautiful Steranko-inked cover). Colan truly is one of the all-time greats of comics, and by the Marvel Universe phase of his career he had already been in the field for 20 years, having started with Fiction House in 1944!
Your comment about the Eisner feel of Ploog is spot on!