Hello, my friends. The Halloween chill is once again in the air as we all prep ourselves for the most terrifying of tricks and the tastiest of treats, all while we’re under the nocturnal shine of the moon. While the associated beast is usually shown under an infamous light, our featured creature will see himself delving into a lore while also locked within the biggest fight of his life. On that note, I welcome you to a featured review series called…
This series was created by Robert A. Multari who initially came up with the idea while constructing his own X-Men team through fan fiction. He did attempt to submit it to Marvel Comics, but his idea was kindly rejected. From there, he decided to rework his concept, stories & characters in order to forge his own self-created universe. Part of the reason behind his creation was that he was a huge fan of werewolves but felt like there wasn’t enough stories of them being portrayed as heroes, as well as them being able to change at will while also retaining their original personalities. As such, it served as the basis for his origin story. Special thanks to Rob himself for sharing this information and with all of that out of the way, it’s time to delve into the supernatural heroics contained within his narrative.
Published in September 2017, Multari came up with the story, wrote the script and even did the lettering as well. Carlos Herrara shared the line artwork with Oscar Choquecota Ale, while also handling the coloring duties alongside Ross A. Campbell. As for the terrifying perils that awaits us, let’s bear our fangs and sharpen our claws as we take part in this critical hunt.
We open on a young man named Rodney “Rod” Marcelli who finds himself in front of a spooky castle while also wondering where he’s at. Just then, he spots a giant bat carrying a young woman he recognizes named Jennifer Conway. As he dashes off to go save her, he slides into a nearby cemetery where he’s suddenly met upon by a trio of female zombies. Fortunately, a white wolf also appears and attacks the undead fiends, allowing Rod to reach the castle. Once he heads inside, he discovers that he’s too late since she’s been mauled by a giant black-haired wolf. Just as it transforms into a human-esque figure, Rod wakes up from what turned out to be a nightmare. Within the Marcelli household located just outside West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, it’s also revealed that he’s sleeping with his girlfriend Jennifer. She tries to ask him what’s wrong, but he doesn’t tell her anything beyond him just having a nightmare. As they head back to sleep, Rod narrates about himself having a dream that’s so real, his senses are actually able to feel the surrounding faux environment, to the point where he can even taste some blood within his mouth.
Meanwhile within a castle located in the Appalachian Mountains, Marcelli narrates about how his dreams have contained “nightmarish” & “supernatural creatures”, alongside “familiar faces” that he’s never noticed before and even “death”. Not only that, but his nightmares also felt real enough to him to the point where the feeling of blood in his mouth is making him uneasy within his stomach. Within the castle, a dark witch named Hecate senses how “the time draws near”, to which her master named Lord Malice comes in and asks her to elaborate. She explains how the full moon is drawing near and that “the time of maturity” is approaching for “the newest Monoki” within their region. While she’s not able to determine “the beast’s nature”, she does discover that its “pelt” is mixed. Specifically, it’s not pure-hearted enough to be a purebred, yet it’s also not tainted enough to reach mongrel status. As such, Lord Malice orders her to send “the twins” to go investigate and for Black Claw to be immediately summoned. We then shift ahead to a Saturday afternoon where Rod, Jennifer and a female friend named Jess are going to hang out with some buddies over at the Hermitage Mall. Once they meet up, it’s revealed that Marcelli is a star player for their school’s football team and that he also has an athletics scholarship to Keystone State University. Jess then tells Jennifer that she’s noticed Rod’s surprisingly quiet nature, despite his potential football future. As the young ladies walk off together, Jen says that he just had a nightmare, but he won’t delve into why it’s troubling him, despite him usually sharing whatever’s on his mind with her. Jess then asks her what she’s planning to do for his upcoming 18th birthday, to which Jennifer says that his parents will be out of town and that his sisters are even away at college. As such, she plans on going to his house following the Homecoming Dance in order to give him an intimately Happy Birthday, especially since she’ll have the excuse of telling her parents that she’s spending the night at Jess’ house. Back with the guys, Joe, John, Tyler & Scott plan on getting some ladies, to which Rod tells them that he’s going to wait for Jennifer and Jess to return. As his friends proceed to goof around, Marcelli is then suddenly approached by a frisky young woman named Janelle. After Rod’s friends introduce themselves to her and even mention that they’re from West Middlesex, she tells them that she just moved into town with her family and that she’s going to school soon alongside her sister. As such, she’s here to do some shopping in preparation for her upcoming classes. While his friends mention how their pal seems to be caught within her romantically interested eyes despite already being in a relationship, she then asks him to show her around in order for them to get closer. Fortunately, Rod tells her that it’s going to be a problem, especially since Jennifer returns and says that she is his girlfriend. As Janelle tells her that she doesn’t know whom she’s dealing with, her sister named Circe comes in and checks up on her, to which she says that it’s nothing that she can’t handle.
Back within the Appalachian Mountain-based castle, Hecate oversees the scene within her cauldron. As Lord Malice takes notice of Jennifer, he suddenly has a strange feeling that it could be the reincarnation of a certain woman. When her assistant comes in and asks her what she wants the twins to do, Hecate informs her that she wants them to stand down, to which Lord Malice adds onto the fact that they should avoid any unnecessary attention. Back at the mall, Jennifer and Circe get into a shouting match with each other. As Rod and Janelle each try to break them up, he narrates about how those unfamiliar ladies actually feel so familiar to him and wonders if he’s seen them within his dreams. As Janelle and Circe take their leave, Jennifer asks Rod why he stopped her, to which he says that he didn’t want to see her escorted away by mall security. From there, they and their group of friends proceed to head out. We then shift to just after midnight over within Lord Malice’s castle as his henchman named Black Claw tells him that he has some company. However, Lord Malice says that he doesn’t want to be disturbed before roughing him up. Just then, the otherworldly visitor named Tartarus comes in and tells Lord Malice that the “Dark Lord” has sent him in order to provide some help with luring the “Monoki Anomaly” to their side, since it can potentially help tip the scales in their favor. When Lord Malice asks why their master didn’t just show up himself and share this information with him if it’s absolutely vital, Tartarus tells him not to question their lord’s motives and that he’s dealing with some urgent business in New York City alongside Azazel & a “new Seraphim Enforcer”. From there, they proceed to get started.
We then shift to Monday morning at West Middlesex High School as Rod is walking through the hallway. Suddenly, Janelle comes up behind him (even touching his butt) and asks him if he’ll show her around. He once again tells her that he’s already taken, but she wraps her arms around him and says that she can help him reconsider that. Fortunately, he forces her off and tells her that they’re never going to be a couple before ordering her to leave him alone. She then says that he’s going to be in a lot of trouble before she calls him “Dog-Boy” and storms off. Afterwards, Jennifer comes in and praises him for turning the opposing lady away. He then mentions that there’s something off about Janelle, to which Jennifer promises to protect him while he narrates about having a terrible feeling that something dreadful is about to occur. From there, we shift to Tuesday evening outside of the Damico household where a young woman named Ann Marie Damico tries to get a barking dog under control. Suddenly, she gets confronted and attacked by a vampire. We then move to Wednesday evening within the parking lot of the Big Beagle Grocery Store as another woman named Rebecca August gets confronted by Tartarus and even has an offer for her. She manages to get out her pepper spray and get him in the face, but he’s able to quickly recover and punches her gut with enough force to make her excessively bleed out. He then tells her that she can either be left to die or join him and get eternal access to her “heart’s desire”. She wearily accepts before he transforms her body into a full-on fiery figure while mentioning that she’ll be giving up her own soul as payment.
We then cut to the Conway household on Thursday evening as Jennifer catches a local news broadcast about the two young girls who’ve recently gone missing. Not only that, but a pair of FBI agents have also heard about this within their Special Investigations Unit Headquarters. In addition, a pair of workers within Fabian’s Auto Garage also catch the newscast where it then mentions that the Craden Corporation has developed a brand-new line of synthetic plasma and that its CEO named Victor Craden will speak at an upcoming press conference at the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny General Hospital. Back in West Middlesex, Jennifer calls up Rodney and informs him about the recently missing girls before she asks him if he’s all right. He tells her that he is before he says that he has some homework to do and promises to talk to her later. After he concludes the call, he narrates about how all of these weird occurrences have popped up ever since his dreams. However, certain elements are starting to make some sense to him. Later that night, a pregnant woman is walking through the city before she’s met upon by Black Claw who tells her that it’s dangerous for her to be out, especially after the recent disappearances of some young girls. She then mentions that she’s single before she turns down his offer to walk her home. Suddenly, he turns into a werewolf before Issue 1 ends with him attacking her.
Overall, this was a wholesome good start for an independent project. It lays the foundation for what it wants to develop moving forward and establishes our initial core cast of characters with professional ease. With our protagonists, Rodney introduces himself as a good-hearted young man who’s faithful to his girlfriend while they also share a solid group of friends. Although his on-field skills are only mentioned in dialogue, his athletic prowess with his school’s football team could be what helps him physically handle the werewolf destiny that slowly awaits him. As for Jennifer, she’s initially presented as a caring and pleasant young woman who’s thankfully aware that Rod would never cheat on her with another lady. As shown when Janelle & Circe came along, she’s also not afraid to go bold and defend what’s rightfully hers. As for her potential historic connection that Lord Malice begins to notice, it does set up a fascinating thread that can be resolved after some slow burn reveal of its details. While I did notice a few more supporting characters towards the end of the book, I’ll save my first thoughts about them until they start becoming essential to the main plot. In terms of our central villains, it sets up our general foe with his core supporters as they cast their eyes upon a key development that they’re hoping to utilize for whatever devious plan they’ll ultimately look to accomplish. Lord Malice does have an initial intimidating command to serve as a primary antagonist, while Tartarus does hint at a bigger boss that Rod could potentially take on after some crucial development. In terms of the eventual journey that Rod will find himself on, it’s already off to a good start since this narrative’s pacing is very well-handled and flows from one scene to another without any egregious initial developments. In addition, it’s initially lax on the action, yet makes up for that with some good chills to bookend this inaugural entry. Not only that, but the artwork looks really good. It’s colorful, detailed and is cartoonish enough to embrace its comic book medium, while also restraining itself just enough to carry its mainly serious tone in a professional manner. All-in-all, this starting point makes for an enjoyable read towards its intended young adult audience and hooks its readers into exploring how this world works. With enough of a horror hint within these pages, it combines its present elements into a wonderful experience that’s worth strolling within its ominous moonlight. So, what kind of upcoming terror awaits Rod, Jennifer and our central cast of characters? What exactly is Lord Malice looking to accomplish? What sort of creepy clash awaits us upon the hallowed grounds of Western Pennsylvania? Come back next time as I continue my Halloween trek by delving into the series’ sophomore chapter. Until then, keep howling with delight.
Night Wolf (created by Robert A. Multari) is owned by Lone Wolf Media Entertainment, Inc.