Dude, You’re Getting a Dell Werewolf!

October 3rd, 2009 by | Tags:

A few weeks ago, I looked over Dell’s Dracula. Due to the pressure to be a more wimpy, G-rated company back in the 60’s, Dell had to take its classic monster properties and reinvent them into a more superhero fare. Another one of these properties was The Wolfman, which received its own movie-to-comic adaptation in 1964.

When Dell made their attempt at superhero comics, they took the concept and made a series called Werewolf, which lasted for three issues. If it wasn’t for the name and the fact that it came out around the time of Dracula and Frankenstein, it would have fallen into even more obscurity. See, the Dell take on Dracula was still a guy from a European country who lived in a dark castle and could turn into a bat. Frankenstein was still a big, strong guy with a green face and flattop. Werewolf, meanwhile, has absolutely nothing to link him to being a werewolf.

When you hear “Werewolf”, you think of Warren Zevon songs, Michael J. Fox movies, Jon Talbain, superheroes by night, Jason Bateman sequels to Michael J. Fox movies, furries, Joe Estevez movies, nards, Rahne Sinclair, Sabrewulf, John Jameson, Adam Sandler covers of Warren Zevon songs, and that episode of Real Ghostbusters where vampires and werewolves started biting each other and becoming hybrids. That episode ruled. What you don’t think about is Noob Saibot punching out enemy soldiers alongside a wolf.

Again, there are no credits listed, but it’s assumed that the creative team was Don Segall and Tony Tallarico. At first I was disappointed in finding out that Werewolf is in no way monster related like its brother comics. Then I delved deeper into the title and discovered that it is balls-out insane. As you see on the cover, the guy is a super spy, which means we’re going to be getting all sorts of James Bond shit, only because it’s a comic book from the 60’s, it’s going to be absolutely ridiculous!

On page one, we meet with Wiley Wolf of the US Air Force. He’s flying his plane through Canada and everything’s gone wrong. His plane is going to crash, his radio isn’t working and he can’t eject. His plane crashes into the snow below, but he is able to walk out of the wreckage nearly unscathed.

Unfortunately, he also has amnesia. He can’t remember who he is or how he got there. He finds himself surrounded by wolves, including one injured from the landing. He picks up the wolf – who he names Thor – and carries it with him into a cave so they can warm up by a fire.

It’s like he knows he’s in a comic book origin and is teasing us.

Major Hartley, Wiley’s friend and superior, notices that he’s gone and sends search parties to find him. He continues the search for months and never gives up hope.

As the months pass, Wiley remembers who he is and prepares to trek towards civilization. He talks to Thor about how human beings aren’t so great, but the wolf continues to follow him. Oh, you poor little fool. Just then, a plane finds him. Wiley and Thor are driven to headquarters, where Thor proceeds to scare the hell out of Major Hartley.

Sometime later, Wiley tells Hartley that he’s done with the Air Force. He relays his experiences living among the wolves towards his decision.

Although he knew he was different, he thought like the wolves in order to survive. He noticed that wolves know when they have had enough in terms of hunting. If they’ve eaten enough to get by, they’ll stop and won’t go around killing with no reason. That would be a nice enough foundation for his motivation, only he then goes into how a lot of the time wolves WOULD start killing for the fun of it. So really, I don’t know what the fuck his point is.

“Yeah, those wolves are pretty cool guys. They won’t go on killing rampages… except for when they go on killing rampages.”

Wiley figures that someone needs to take care of the greedy assholes of the world and he can’t do it in the Air Force. With Hartley’s blessing, he leaves and goes to live in Washington DC. Once off the plane, a woman greets him.

Whoa, is that Fife Magazine? The monthly rag that covers the exploits of Don Knots? I hear that issue had a crackerjack story about nipping things in the bud.

Whoever that mystery stalker is, he gets in a cab and follows Wiley and the woman Judy Bowman. They casually lose him and he’s never mentioned ever again. Judy works for the CIA and they want to make Wiley an agent. Why? Because nobody knows he’s alive, except Hartley, who suggested the idea to the CIA. If he’s completely off the radar, then nobody could identify him in the field.

Already, this doesn’t work. One, Hartley certainly wasn’t the only guy around to see Wiley brought back to civilization. Not that it matters, but still. And two, what about that guy who was just spying on them? If that guy is there to keep an eye on him, then I guess he isn’t so secretive after all! Even if the guy was there to tail Judy, she probably shouldn’t have been identifying Wiley Wolf by his fucking name!

But I digress. They go to the secret headquarters of the CIA subgroup Unit One. See, this whole group has been sitting on their hands for God knows how long, waiting for someone EXACTLY LIKE Wiley Wolf to show up so they can convince him to be their agent. That’s where our tax dollars are going. I’d love to see the meetings where the guys at Unit One have to convince their higher ups to give them any sort of a budget.

Wiley Wolf agrees to become their patsy under the codename Werewolf. We get a montage of him going through all sorts of training with Thor looking on. He learns understandable things like fighting, target practice and holding his breath for long periods of time underwater. Then he learns ridiculous shit like putting together a radio while blindfolded and opening two combination locks at the same time.

Then they get to one of Werewolf’s most cockamamie abilities.

That’s right! Werewolf can make pretty much any face he wants via hypnosis! I really should rant on this right now, but I’ll save it for when it gets even sillier later on.

A doctor operates on Thor the wolf and implants a radio receiver into his head, as well as putting a microphone of sorts in Wiley’s throat. Now anything Wiley says or even quietly mumbles can be heard by Thor. That poor, poor creature.

Adding Thor to the equation is pretty stupid too. They go through all this work to make their agent untraceable by the enemy, but no matter how wrinkled he’s hypnotized to make his brow, people will probably notice a guy who always has a wolf around him.

Now that he’s more or less ready, they outfit him with his Werewolf Suit. It’s a black stocking that covers his entire form with zero shading. He appears as nothing more than a living, breathing shadow. They go over the specs and almost everything makes enough sense. It’s mostly bulletproof. It has a bunch of gadgets in the belt. The soles of his feet can make them adhesive or slick depending on what the story calls for. That’s fine. I can buy that.

It’s this paragraph that gets me. “The material is one molecule thick and permits transfer of oxygen into and carbon dioxide out of the suit. A self contained breathing unit.”

I’m not scientist and I didn’t pay attention through most of high school, but even I know this is epic bullshit. He’s wearing tights that have vastly less volume than the air surrounding him and not only is it completely opaque, but it stops bullets? Even if you can accept the whole “one molecule thick” idea, was that really necessary? How much time and effort was put into stitching this together on the assumption that it would work? And don’t get me started on how his “adhesive or slick” feet work in conjunction with this.

Now Wiley and Thor are ready for action. The two spend all their free time in a beautiful home in the middle of nowhere, meaning that Wiley is cursed with a complete lack of human interaction outside of his missions. How much that would suck is never touched upon. The phone rings and he gets his first mission, or – as they refer to it – his first howl. Russians are hiding rockets in Cuba and it’s up to Werewolf to find them and do something about it.

When Wiley and Thor need to leave their home for a mission, they don’t simply walk out the front door and get in a car. No, that would be too simple. They jump into the pool and swim through an underwater tunnel until they reach a shack with a hole underneath a long distance away. Yes, this is no problem for Wiley and his special breathing suit, but what about Thor? This poor creature is forced to swim underwater for probably like a quarter mile! And that’s being generous! This is sickening!

Hold on just a fucking minute. That entire building in on a pier! How did he… I mean… Did he just… There’s no way he could… Forget it. FORGET IT!

I need some Advil.

Their trip to Cuba involves flying a plane and then crashing it into the ocean, but first jumping out with parachutes on Werewolf, Thor and a life raft. Then they get closer to shore, ditch the raft and swim to the beach. They come across some Cuban soldiers, so Werewolf has Thor bark at them as a distraction. The soldiers exclaim, “Que?” and “Perro!” at the sight of him, which allows Werewolf to throw an exploding gas pill. The gas knocks the two of them out for a minimum of 24 hours and Werewolf doesn’t even consider the damage that may have done to Thor, who was right there with them. Whatever.

Notice that those soldiers were speaking actual Spanish right there. Contrast that with this.

He’s like John Travolta in Phenomenon only incompetent and lucky! Yeah, his plan actually works and the guy picking him up doesn’t notice anything’s wrong.

The rest of the comic is in English anyway. Werewolf meets up with his contact, who is nothing more than a little boy. Under the guise of a Cuban farmer, Werewolf is shown that the missiles are hidden amongst the camouflage of trees. The two are quickly caught by Fidel Castro. Or, well, what’s supposed to be Castro. His name in the comic is El Jefe, the Chief. Werewolf lets it slip about how he knows the rockets are nearby, getting he and the boy tossed in prison.

Werewolf wants to be caught, as it lets him get closer to the rockets. He brings up how US planes are on their way any minute, which leads me to believe that they were just writing this as they went. I mean, the Russians were mentioned in the mission briefing and never again.

He tells the boy to run and then is able to call over Thor, who disarms the guy holding a gun behind his back. These Cubans sure are a sporting bunch, I tell you.

Almost human. Riiiight.

Everybody’s starting to hightail it, so Werewolf figures the area is set to self-destruct. If that happens, there will be no evidence for the UN to look at. He skates towards a random house, somehow knowing that that’s EXACTLY where the bomb is. Unfortunately, after deactivating the self-destruct switch, an enemy soldier sticks him up with a rifle and has him tied up. Werewolf uses his transistor radio in his throat to tell the US planes to home in on his signal.

Then he proceeds to break out of his binds as they randomly set on fire with zero explanation. A later issue makes mention of him having a mini blowtorch in his outfit, which really shows how much you can fit into one molecule. It’s spacier than you think!

He tells Thor to get to the detonation shack and, on his call, pull the switch to activate the self-destruct process.

Haha! Why is Thor there in the third panel? Really, why is he there? And why does the boy look like he got picked last in kickball?

And it’s “too”, not “to”!

The place explodes and we see Werewolf and Thor watching TV. “The incriminating photos proved the existence of the rockets, forcing their removal.” What did they remove? The whole area exploded!

Wiley ponders to his pet wolf about what next is in store for them.

Yeah, great idea. Create a character with a pet wolf and almost immediately put them in a situation where the wolf is completely worthless.

This issue gets one of those 60’s/70’s style preview splash pages that shows our hero in peril while the narration asks about how this came to be. It’s pretty badly written. You see, after a paragraph about Werewolf’s current situation, it says, “But first, who is Werewolf… and how is it he finds himself facing extinction alone beneath the waves?”

On the very next page, the first piece of narration says, “But first, who is Werewolf… Where did he ‘come from’?”

We get a refresher course on Werewolf’s origin, only when he meets up with Judy, they retcon away that dumb stuff about a guy following them that made no sense.

Wiley gets a new mission. The “Red Chinese” have somehow figured out a way to track the whereabouts of every single US nuclear sub. The FIENDS! How dare they want to not die a horrible, radioactive death? Wiley’s directions are to pretend to be an industrialist and get a ride on an American sub in Scotland. Sounds fun.

Cool. I didn’t know you could be hypnotized into having a gigantic nose.

There’s a rather pointless scene where Wiley – in his brilliant hypno-disguise – waits for the sub to be ready. He sees a Chinese dude walking around and figures he’s probably an enemy agent. Then a blond guy in a knit cap hits him in the back of the head with a club. He backs down after getting attacked by Thor and admits that the Chinese guy hired him to club anyone who follows him. In other words, racial profiling really does work!

The main Chinese villain Sing Lo (sweet chariot) hangs out in a sub, laughing at how he’s able to track all the American subs. How? He has dolphins trained to swim around, locate submarines and then tell him. That would be a good plan if they could speak dolphin, I guess. I don’t think they ever explain that part.

The disguised Wiley jumps off the submarine while it’s surfaced. The sailors want to save him, but they really have a schedule to keep to, so fuck that guy. Wiley changes into his Werewolf duds and swims downward.

He sees the dolphins swimming around and talking to each other and immediately pieces together Sing Lo’s plan like it’s the most obvious thing ever. Sing Lo apparently wants to watch for this specific sub, as it’s about to test a new polaris missile. He plans to steal it upon fire and use it for themselves.

Werewolf is quick to be caught by the enemy. He’s dragged onto Sing Lo’s sub and smacked around. It isn’t until a while later that he remembers he has his ridiculous mini-flamethrower in his tights and gets rid of the ropes. He commands Thor to cause a commotion on the American sub so they can’t fire the missile, but it doesn’t work. The missile is fired and the bad guys get their hands on it.

And that’s how Norman Osborn keeps Ares and Bullseye in line. With double portions of rice.

The sailors discuss chloroforming Thor in retaliation for scaring the shit out of them earlier. Man, that poor wolf.

Boring stuff happens and we end up with Sing Lo’s sub hidden below the American sub. It appears on the radar, but the sailors think it’s just wreckage from a World War II ship. Werewolf has Thor run up a ladder, out the top of the surfaced sub and into the ocean just so the sailors would be able to look down and see that there’s an actual submarine underwater.

Meanwhile, Werewolf works on removing the missile from the bottom of Sing Lo’s sub.

Yes, that’s right. He’s using his flamethrower underwater.

Sing Lo needs to hide the missile inside the sub or the Americans will see it, but those dolphins take up too much space. He has his men fire at them until they escape through a hatch. Soon after, Werewolf is overwhelmed by enemy Chinese frogmen. When it looks like certain death, the dolphins get their revenge by saving his hide. The missile is delivered back to the American sub, as is one of the henchmen for the sake of evidence.

Oh, and Sing Lo’s sub accidentally gets some of its cables tangled in its propeller. It sinks downward and the hull breaches. Werewolf figures that they’re pretty much dead. He gets back to his industrialist disguise, gets on an inflatable raft, gets rescued and then gets chewed out for causing so much trouble.

Days later, Wiley has lunch with Judy and fills in the rest of the mission. The dolphins are now in Florida, being studied as potential weapons for peace. Wiley also wonders if Sing Lo is truly dead… but come on. He’s dead. Move on with your life.

That guy in the back is so disinterested in what’s going on. “Stick ‘em up. I guess.”

Wiley visits Judy at Unit One headquarters. She gets all paranoid about a guy sneaking around, as if he’s a spy. Turns out he’s just a salesman, is soon on his way and laughs come from all over. Oh, the hilarity!

Wiley’s briefed on his next mission. General Frank Fracas has been captured by Chinese soldiers. Is Werewolf a bad enough dude to save the General? Soon after the briefing, he and Thor are in a plane on their way to China. They’re spotted and a missile is fired. Werewolf casually shoves his pet wolf into a bag and jumps out of the plane with him before the plane is blown to kingdom come.

Then he shows yet another skill from his hypno-face-changing repertoire. SECRET… ASIAN MAN!

He made his face remember what it’s like to look like a Chinese dude. He should have just bought those novelty glasses. Those work way better.

Too bad this had to take place in China. If he was turning Japanese, I’d have a joke ready for it. At least, I really think so.

He’s quickly discovered by some soldiers, but easily outfights them. He realizes that if he’s a prisoner, he has a better chance of finding their leader and saving General Fracas, so he surrenders after handily handing them their asses.

The rest pretty much writes itself. He comes across Fracas, puts on his black tights, escapes, has Thor attack the evil Chinese general without the wolf getting shot, and they get on a plane to escape. Then he mows down the Chinese with bullets just because.

Not much is said about what became of Fracas, other than that he was delivered to safety. From the safety of Japan, Wiley sends a letter home as a signal to his higher ups that the mission is accomplished. Look at him, all on the ball like that. Sent on an important life-or-death mission and his bosses won’t find out about his survival and success for however long it takes to deliver a letter from Japan to the US.

The issue features a second story. Wiley gets a message from his boss about how a cruise ship, the SS Safehaven, is secretly transporting a gigantic box of nuclear warheads. It’s up to him to watch over it, as he’s the only one who knows about it. The warheads are inside a huge crate labeled “BOWLING BALLS” and Wiley suggests that they’re enough to blow up the world if they went off at once. So that’s our government in action. Central Intelligence my ass.

The whole thing about Wiley being the only one who knows about the warheads is bullshit anyway. Some arms dealer named A. N. Arkist is also on the cruise and makes his pretty apparent that he’s there for the warheads from the beginning. The government is dropping the ball like it was covered in hot butter here.

Werewolf believes Mr. Arkist to be up to no good and by the time he investigates, Arkist has already stolen a warhead. Werewolf busts into the captain’s office. He tells the captain that they have to abandon the ship and there’s no time to explain. The captain’s like, “Well, I guess I’ll take your word for it. You are wearing a body stocking and all.”

So everyone leaves the ship except for Werewolf and Arkist. Arkist has the upper hand because he has a warhead in his hand. If he sets it off, it’ll kill a huge chunk of humanity, I’d imagine. Werewolf lets him get his way and guide the ship wherever, but then remembers that he has his whipping-wolf nearby. Thor is sent to create a diversion, which works.

Is that… Is that really a good idea? I used to have a sheltie, a dog with very wolf-like features. He could barely hold a football-shaped squeak toy in his mouth for more than two seconds before dropping it.

Since there are a few pages left and they need some more conflict, Werewolf discovers that they’ve sailed right into the range of a French atomic testing site. A mushroom cloud has gone off in the distance and the shockwave is capable of setting off all the warheads.

Werewolf releases Arkist from his bindings and tells him to sail the ship in the opposite direction as fast as possible. You can tell that they’re desperate to fill up space, since they dedicate a couple pointless panels towards Werewolf discussing his route to the warheads.

And by God, it works! The shockwave still reaches the ship and nearly turns it over. Hours later, Werewolf comes to and finds that A. N. Arkist is gone. He also finds Thor buried under a huge pile of debris, but he’s completely okay. I swear, between this, the plane accident and the underwater swimming, I’m wondering if Thor isn’t really some kind of otherworldy creature. Possibly the god Thor himself, transformed into wolf form by the trickster Loki.

There are still four more pages, so we get Wiley at home, breaking the fourth wall. He talks about how his fans ask him about who he is and where he comes from, so he goes into a flashback of his origin.

The hell? No, none of your “fans” would be asking you about your backstory because it appears in every single issue of your comic! I think you’re confusing your so-called fans with people who ask, “Which one are you, again?”

Unlike Dracula, once this comic ended, it was gone for good. No reprints or anything. Not that it truly deserved better.

Dracula is history and the Werewolf is in the can. Later this month, I think I’ll give Dell’s Frankenstein a try.

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4 comments to “Dude, You’re Getting a Dell Werewolf!”

  1. Robert Kanigher, I owe you an apology.

    This work is proof you could have written less logical comics.

  2. […] loosely based on the source material and wasn’t quite as fun a concept as it could have been. Werewolf had literally nothing to do with its source material and despite the utter insanity of the story, […]

  3. ya know, underwater blowtorches and attack dolphins exist these days.

  4. I was a fan of this very-short-lived series as a kid. MANY comics had writing this bad in the early-mid sixties, including such as Charlton’s Blue Beetle and DC’s The Flash.
    To paraphrase John Cleese, “They got better.”