Hello, my friends. We’ve begun our trek towards All Hallow’s Eve, all-the-while its glowing moonlight slowly gets brighter along the way. During this trek, the perils of our personal hunts have begun to escalate. Never has that been truer for our featured protagonist and his budding destiny. On that note, I welcome you back to another entry of a special review series called…
Last time, we were introduced to Rodney “Rod” Marcelli, a high school student whose life is pretty stable thanks to having a girlfriend named Jennifer Conway. Not only that, but he’s also a star football player with a bright future within the sport ahead of him. However, a demonic group led by Lord Malice and his right-hand witch named Hecate discover him as a budding Monoki who could help them for a malevolent master plan. They initially send their twin ladies named Janelle & Circe out as the former tries to woo him, but he and his girlfriend are able to stop their advances. However, it doesn’t prevent Lord Malice’s forces from slaying three young women. With an escalating situation brewing within this Northwestern Pennsylvania town, we now get to the series’ sophomore chapter.
Published in July 2018, Robert A. Multari takes up the majority of working tasks for this entry. Specifically, he handles the story, script and even lettering duties. As for the artwork for both the cover and within the main pages, that responsibility was given to Bokuman Studio. As for how our main man will deal with a situation that’s becoming a bit more dire, let’s resume my critical hunt and see for ourselves.
Issue 2 begins with Rod and Jennifer driving through town on a Friday afternoon. During which, he narrates about his weird week where he’s been greatly bothered by a recent string of nightmares. His nighttime visions ended up having some familiar faces, some not-so-familiar faces and even a small batch of creatures. During all of this, it’s then revealed that the three young women that were attacked in the prior chapter were actually his ex-girlfriends. He then mentions how he’s glad that the cops haven’t made that connection, since he fears about being brought in for questioning or even being hauled away to a mental institution due to insanity. Either way, he’s fearful that Jennifer could wind up in the same lethal predicament as his former lovers. During the ride, he advises her to stay within a big crowd or near a cop for her own safety. She tells him not to worry since she’ll be with the rest of their school’s Homecoming Court, to which he instructs her to meet up with her parents and immediately head home following his football game. Just as she gets dropped off, he narrates his need to know what’s going on and what this all has to do with his own nightmares. We then shift ahead to later that day as the West Middlesex Chiefs have a narrow three-point lead over the visiting Kennedy Eagles, but their opponent is only three yards away from a huge win. As the Eagles run their last-chance play, Rod makes a huge tackle upon their running back. Despite a clutch play from our featured Defensive End, the tailback was able to deliver a backwards pass to a fellow teammate who’s then able to reach the endzone unopposed as Kennedy ultimately wins.
We then cut to Saturday evening as Rod and Jennifer arrive at their school in order to attend their Homecoming Dance. During this, he mentions in his narration how things are feeling “really weird”, especially since the three ladies (Ann Marie, Rebecca & a finally named Candyce) are still missing and that he’s still tense as a result while everyone else isn’t letting it bother them due to their desire to enjoy the dance. After our young couple manage to meet up with their friends, we then shift ahead to the moment where it’s time to announce the Homecoming King & Queen. From there, Rod & Jennifer end up winning said title before they share a triumphant slow dance. As they share this tender moment, he says that he’s lucky to have “the most beautiful girl in the world” while she tells him that she has something special to give him for their “private After Party”. Just as they’re sharing a kiss, they’re suddenly met upon by Janelle and Circe who’re each with their own guys.
Just as Jennifer is about to erupt into another fierce argument with the two ladies, a teacher named Mr. Tranic comes in and attempts to defuse the situation. However, Circe uses her dark magic to transform him into a demon, despite Janelle telling her fellow century-old sister that their master didn’t give them authorization to do so. From there, Janelle tells their accompanying boyfriends to attack, revealing that they were actually a werewolf and vampire. While all three beasts proceed to slaughter some of the attending students as the rest find themselves locked in, Rod and Jennifer proceed to head down a different hallway before they’re blocked by a security gate. He initially struggles to pull it open, but he inadvertently taps into his inner werewolf and gains enough strength to pry it back for them to get through. With the demonic teacher noticing and pursuing them, Rod tells his girlfriend to head down to the car while he distracts the oncoming monster. From there, he sets his plan in motion as he evades the demon’s initial lunge before he heads into the stairwell. Due to the monster forcing itself after Rod, it unintentionally falls over the railing and dies after hitting the floor.
Afterwards, he reaches the parking lot, only to discover that Jennifer is trapped within Black Claw’s clutches. He then tells Marcelli that while he would personally like to slay him, he’s been ordered by his boss to recruit him into their group known as the Dark Covenant. Rod tells him to let Jennifer go, but Black Claw refuses and even mentions that his master has some plans for her. From there, he forces her onto the ground in order to fight her boyfriend.
The scuffle begins as Rod delivers a successful series of strikes, but Black Claw easily shrugs them off and recovers before he unleashes a severe beatdown upon Marcelli.
Despite taking a big beating, Rod ends up giving into his primal side and transforms into a werewolf, even unleashing a powerful energy burst that forces Black Claw and Jennifer to the ground. Meanwhile, Janelle and Circe arrive back at Lord Malice’s castle as he observes this scene within Hecate’s cauldron. He demands to know how Rod was able to become a werewolf, but Hecate says that she’s baffled by this since his predecessors have never displayed this level of power before. Not only that, but the energy burst is even felt from their end. Over at the Pittsburgh-based headquarters of Gene Storm, an agent named James and a humanoid ram detect the same energy spike on their instruments before they receive the same burst and discover that it came from several miles north of them.
From there, the same energy burst is felt at different locations. Within the Philadelphia-based Club Outcry, a lead singer with a secret identity sees this knocking back his bandmates and the audience while he’s performing there. Over in Arken City, a pair of super figures named Crimson Dawn and Flare are fighting some agents from Jericho, Inc. before they all get knocked over by the same energy burst. Fortunately, the heroic duo is able to quickly recover as they wonder where the shockwave came from, to which Crimson Dawn says that they’ll worry about it later before they head out to revitalize some “remaining failed experiments” and flee. Finally, an angel-esque being within New York City also gets hit by the energy burst before he wonders what that was all about. And so, Issue 2 ends back in West Middlesex as Black Claw and Jennifer bear witness to Rod who’s now a fully transformed werewolf.
Overall, this was a pretty entertaining chapter that advanced some established elements while also setting up a few more, albeit probably not as smoothly as I would’ve liked. As for the main story within the comic itself, there was a good amount of escalation from Rod’s point-of-view. With his recent bout of nightmares and the slaughtering of his past loves, he has every right to feel worried about the looming danger towards his current girlfriend & his world. While he began the first two issues unaware of what his werewolf-filled history has in store for him, it continues to set up a lore for him to finally learn about once he gets there. Otherwise, he and his lovely lady Jennifer continue to be wholesome, caring and close with each other, all while their looming situation will put their bond to the ultimate test. For the villains that were introduced last time, their further development has been put on the backburner in order to focus on Rod’s ever-hectic situation. With Janelle and Circe, I’m sure that their “boyfriends” were supernatural creatures already under Lord Malice’s employ. It’s also possible that they somehow locked the main entrance, given how there’s already a security gate within a nearby hallway. However, once their accompanying “dates” become monsters, they mainly disappear for the rest of the issue. With the teacher-turned demon chasing after Rod and Jennifer, you would think that this would’ve been how they could’ve stayed within this narrative’s focus. After all, Rod does come across Black Claw due to him capturing Jennifer as she’s trying to reach her boyfriend’s car. That way, Janelle and Circe could’ve provided Marcelli with an even greater and far-more tense situation for him to deal with instead of them simply returning to Lord Malice’s castle once the initial slaughtering occurred. As for the brief showing of even more characters once Rod enters his inaugural werewolf transformation, it did come off a little bit like the then-annoying trend of certain franchise movies (such as “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, “BvS: Dawn of Justice” & “The Mummy, 2017”) where elements meant to become important in future installments are hastily shoved in for no reason other than quick references of things to come. Thankfully, it’s not as severely bad as I’ve described, since the central story that this chapter delivers has gotten all of its main points across. Even still, I wish that this final space could’ve at least been given a little more development to the other supporting characters that were briefly shown near the end of the prior issue in order to give us a better idea on how they’ll be used within the main storyline, since the characters introduced here give the sense of this story taking place in a superhero-esque universe (regardless of the fact that this initially started as X-Men fanfiction and was originally pitched to Marvel). Despite a somewhat shaky ending to this comic, the overall presentation still shines. The pacing nicely complements the narrative’s progression, allowing the reader to feel a certain calm before the storm that Rod is going through before Janelle, Circe and Black Claw come along to ruin his night. The artwork continues to look as professional as ever, even within its own independent limitations. Whether or not the trio of artists from the last entry all ended up with jobs at Bokuman Studio and were able to stay with Multari in order to continue their initial work, this comic continues to shine with neatly drawn characters, an eye-pleasing color palette and a proper presentation of energy throughout the proceeding story. Finally, the action scenes were suitably good. The main situation over at the Homecoming Dance presented the biggest thrill for the issue with a nicely handled hallway chase before we get to the initial scuffle between Rod and Black Claw. That particular dust-up was fine given that Marcelli hasn’t become the fully developed werewolf that he’ll ultimately become and given the beating that he took before his transformation, it does show how much development he’ll need to go through. All-in-all, this sophomore entry continued to advance the initial premise and make some significant progress with its initial premise. While the tease of even more characters within this supposed universe was fine at best and thankfully wasn’t the same eye-rolling inclusion that hampered other projects (mainly cinematic), the narrative’s central core still had plenty of room to grow and still left its readers anticipated with what’s to come. On that note, what sort of future perils await Rod now that he’s finally given into his werewolf self? What kind of Lycan legacy will unfold from his perspective? How will all of the various supporting characters ultimately factor into the main narrative? Will Jennifer be spared from the same grim fate that her boyfriend’s past lovers wound up in? Also, what kind of role does the Dark Covenant have in store for Marcelli? Come back next time as Robert A. Multari continues to provide some much-needed answers to the threads that he’s left dangling thus far. Until then, keep on prowling!
Night Wolf (created by Robert A. Multari) is owned by Lone Wolf Media Entertainment, Inc.