Hello, my friends. We’ve hit the midpoint of our Halloween trek, even though the familiar chill within the air has gotten exceptionally cooler. As we continue our journey underneath the pale moonlight and amongst the echoing howls that’re ringing from the season’s various creatures, we once again carry on with our literary jaunt as I welcome you back to another entry of…
So far, this series has presented us with a young high school student named Rodney “Rod” Marcelli, a budding football star with a loving girlfriend named Jennifer Conway. In the week leading up to their Homecoming Dance, he’s been getting some disturbing nightmares filled with figures of those that he recognizes and those whom he’s never met before. It turns out that those visions were actually ominous in nature since a supernatural fiend named Lord Malice and his demonic sorceress named Hecate have a devious master plan in place with him as their central feature. With the school dance underway, Rod and Jennifer share a triumphant moment as the newly minted Homecoming King and Queen. Unfortunately, their magical night gets rocked by a pair of ages-old sisters named Janelle and Circe, especially since they work with Lord Malice. With several of their fellow students slaughtered by the terrible twins’ supernatural boyfriends, Rod and Jennifer manage to escape. However, another of Lord Malice’s accomplices named Black Claw managed to kidnap Jennifer and deliver a fierce assault upon Rod. Just then, Marcelli’s bloodline finally kicks in as he suddenly transforms into a werewolf in order to properly combat his foe. Now that we’re caught up, let’s resume our critical adventure.
Published in December 2019, series creator Robert A. Multari would take care of the story, script and lettering duties for this entry. While Boukman Studio was retained to handle the illustration & inking for both the main cover and the pages, Gat Melvyn was brought in to handle the coloring responsibilities. Now that our central protagonist has found himself within a terror-filled predicament, let us resume this critical hunt and see how it all unfolds.
Issue 3 opens with a fully transformed Rod towering over Black Claw. Despite not initially expecting this turn of events from Marcelli, the fiend responds by transforming into a werewolf himself in order to properly fight him. They then proceed to tussle as Rod initially manages to pin him.
However, Black Wolf realizes that our hero is too busy lashing out and not knowing what he’s doing in his Lycan form. As such, he’s able to flip Rod off of him before he viciously slashes away with his claws. Not only that, but Black Claw also came equipped with a silver knife as he cuts Marcelli in his gut and on his right eye lid. As much as this beatdown pleases him, Black Wolf reminds Marcelli that his boss wants him alive. He then tells Rod that he’ll allow him to receive some training in order to make their rematch much more competitive. As such, he picks up Marcelli and throws him into the school wall before taking his leave with Jennifer in his paws. As the police and medics arrive to find him transformed back into his human form (along with a message written on the wall that says “Join Us Or Suffer The Consequences”), Rod narrates about how one’s arrogance makes a person believe that they’ll know everything on how the world works, while life reveals the actual reality that they have to adjust to.
Later, Marcelli gets brought to the Shenango Valley Medical Center as the hospital’s main medic named Dr. DeAngelo receives his badly cut body. Eventually, he tells a fellow nurse that their patient’s cuts came from both “a very large animal” and a knife. While their victim did receive a cut on his right eye, only the eyelid was harmed, and he was able to stitch it up. We then shift ahead to Sunday afternoon as Rod wakes up to examine his surroundings, all while he removes the bandages from his face and examines his new scar within his personal restroom. He then recalls the grim incident from the Homecoming Dance and realizes that his girlfriend has been kidnapped by an opposing “big wolf” who left some effective scratches on him. He proceeds to take his hospital gown off to examine them and discovers that he only has some notable scars on his left side, in addition to the lone facial scar. Other than that, the rest of his injuries have completely healed. After noticing how long he’s been knocked out, he realizes that he must find and save Jennifer from the opposing monsters.
Just then, he hears Dr. DeAngelo talking with a small group of FBI agents as Agent Raymond Bokor says that he, alongside Agents James Hyde and Wyatt Hammond would like to talk with Rod about the Homecoming incident. Thinking that the agents wouldn’t believe his explanation, Marcelli decides to escape. Unbeknownst to him, Agent Bokor tells Dr. DeAngelo that he’s hoping that their interrogation will help them find the students and teaching staff that’s gone missing. Suddenly, they hear a loud smash within Rod’s room as Raymond and James smash their way in before they all discover that Marcelli has broken out. Over within Lord Malice’s castle, Jennifer is being held prisoner as she demands to know what her captors want from her. Black Wolf tries to shut her up by threatening her with his knife, but she refuses to remain silent. While she resumes with her rampant complaints, Black Wolf narrates about how humans aren’t as easily scared as they once were and that he can’t wait for his master to emerge from his sleep to take his devious claim over her. Meanwhile, Rod returns to the school parking lot and sees the sight of his recent tussle. He then spots the message written on the wall and discovers that it was written with his own blood since he’s able to smell it.
Back at the Shenango Valley Medical Center, Agent Bokor tells Dr. DeAngelo that he and his fellow operatives require access to Marcelli’s medical history, along with any recent blood work. The head medic refuses to comply due to doctor-patient confidentiality, but Raymond and James present him with a search warrant that allows them to seize any patient’s medical record that’s linked to their case. From there, Agent Bokor orders Dr. DeAngelo to bring them every essential file that he has while they try to find Rod.
Meanwhile, Marcelli returns to his house after dressing himself with some spare clothes. In his narration, he mentions that those were originally meant for him to change into following the dance, but now he has to find out where Jennifer has been taken to. As he heads inside, he realizes that the evil twins, their demonic boyfriends and the opposing werewolf are working together before he recalls Janelle’s earlier remark about him heading for “a world of hurt”. He also remembers Black Wolf’s message for him to join their group and that all of this is somehow connected to his recent rash of nightmares. While he wonders about the possible answers that his dreams could potentially tell him, he heads further into his home before he horrifyingly discovers his parents crucified on their fireplace. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a group of vampires & werewolves break in and surround him. With no choice, Rod attempts to fend them off.
While he does his best to evade & attack the opposing creatures, they ultimately manage to overwhelm and surround him. Suddenly, a familiar white-haired female werewolf bursts in and attacks the otherworldly creatures. As he oversees all of this, Lord Malice tells the supernatural beings to restrain Marcelli before he can transform while also slaying “the female Purebred”. As Rod tells the lady werewolf that he’s seen her in his dreams and asks her who she is, she simply tells him to use his instincts in order to transform. While she provides enough of a distraction and slices up some opposing creatures with her sword, Marcelli concentrates and manages to shift into his werewolf form to her amazement. As they attack the opposing beings, she tells him that they’re mainly drones that can be easily killed. As such, she gives him one of her swords before they decapitate their foes. With their battle won, they shift back into their human forms as she praises him for his first slay. However, the slaughtered creatures have been transformed back into regular humans as Rod says that he recognizes them. And so, Issue 3 ends as he narrates about his vow to locate his girlfriend while making her captors pay.
Overall, this was a progressive step forward. Rod has some personal development where he finally enters the unknown that’s been looming over him for a while. Once he does, his world gets immensely rocked with the kidnapping of his girlfriend, the discovery that he can become a werewolf and another figure from his dreams finally crosses paths with him. More than likely, her past experience will help her become a proper mentor as she molds him into a far-more competent Lycan fighter while he and the readers finally delve into the lore that they’re entwined in. It also gets around to developing one of the many supporting characters that were introduced within the first two issues as FBI Agents Bokor and Hyde (with Hammond being added here) finally respond after initially hearing about the first batch of bloody murders. Because Rod didn’t hear much of their conversation with Dr. DeAngelo, it ultimately sets up a potentially uneasy relationship. After all, Marcelli assumes that he’s in trouble due to him previously dating the young ladies that’re now maimed. From a reader’s perspective, it looked like the agents were only going to ask him some questions concerning the preceding events. It may have been possible that Rod’s worries would’ve come to pass has he just allowed them to interrogate him, but this particular action has now created a lingering situation for him to potentially deal with during his journey. While Marcelli gets the mainline development for this outing, Black Wolf got to prove his Lycan prowess due to his own fighting experience. Despite showing himself as a worthy adversary, he also carries my biggest criticism for this issue. After thoroughly defeating Rod, one wonders why Black Wolf doesn’t just kidnap him alongside Jennifer. It could be his fighter’s pride getting in the way, but he’s also aware that Lord Malice wants our hero for his malevolent master plan. Not only that, Marcelli has been caught off-guard, since he’s only just become aware of his Lycan side and is nowhere near the same skill level as Black Wolf. Had he captured Rod, it could’ve led to our hero getting rescued by his new female Lycan compatriot with Jennifer unfortunately not allowed to be saved at the same time in order for the stakes to continue at their escalating rate. As such, the only reason why the events played out as it did is so that it can set up Marcelli’s uneasy relationship with our FBI agents. While we have yet to see how any of the other supporting characters that were hinted at towards the end of the first two issues will ultimately contribute to the main narrative, its slow burn progression towards that side of the story benefitted this entry pretty well. The pacing felt very smooth and allowed the presented events to unfold as a reasonably good rate. Nothing felt awkwardly shown or abruptly popped up with no warning just for sensationalism’s sake. Finally, we have the noticeably different artwork. While the first two issues were colorful and comic book-esque with its presentation, this one had something of a moody cell-shaded touch to its drawings. It’s somewhat noticeable in some spaces and makes the overall artistic quality suffer a bit when compared to the two prior issues, but it’s still very pleasant to the eyes and helped get the story’s main points across in a presentable fashion. In the end, this was an exciting progression that saw Rod reach his initial low point but sets him up on a heroic path once he starts to grasp his werewolf prowess. All of this is backed by good artwork, well-handled story command, decent chills and strong pacing. While slightly hampered by a narrative contrivance and a mostly good, though not entirely solid artistic presentation, it continues to make this independently made saga engaging to its readers and prepares them for the main progression that they’ll embark upon within a horror-filled, blood-curling & terrifying trek. With that said, what kind of training will Marcelli find himself in en route to rescuing Jennifer? Who is this Lycan warrior woman who’s now taken him under her hairy wing? What else does Lord Malice and company have in store for our main man? Come back next time as the Halloween chill continues to climb, the souls of old begin to soar and the potential perils maintain their overall escalation towards its challenging heights for our primary werewolf. Until then, stay proud within your own wolf pack.
Night Wolf (created by Robert A. Multari) is owned by Lone Wolf Media Entertainment, Inc.