Creatures On The Loose #31: "The Beast Within!"

Creatures On The Loose #31
"The Beast Within!"
September, 1974

Doug Moench: Writer
George Tuska: Artist
Vince Colletta: Inker
Michelle Brand: Colorist
Tom Orzechowski: Letterer
Roy Thomas: Editor

Simon Stroud, a special police task force investigator, followed a series of clues leading to the Man-Wolf. A chase through the night streets of Manhattan ended atop the Statue of Liberty. Now, Simon Stroud has just evaded the Man-Wolf's lunge -- a lunge which sends the lycanthrope through the railing encircling Liberty's torch --

--And which ends with a sudden plunge into the Hudson River. Simon Stroud figures it's time to file his report on the case... because nothing could have survived a fall like that! It is dawn when a shape bobs in the waves of Hudson Bay... this particular shape is slowly washed ashore -- and is revealed as the unconscious Man-Wolf. Dawn: a time when the sun's rays -- strike a moon-rock pendant... causing an eerie glow -- and beginning the Man-Wolf's transformation... into Colonel John Jameson.

The Colonel is a man who is wracked with physical pain -- and painful memories: of his first transformation into the beast within... He attacked his own father... until Spider-Man intruded upon his mindless rampage... to defend J. Jonah Jameson. He remembers his second battle with Spider-Man... this one taking place before the watchful eyes of Kristine, his fiancee... who saw Spider-Man tear the pendant from the Man-Wolf's throat --

-- And hurled the pendant over the railing... to disappear into the depths of the Hudson River. Then he recalls how Morbius the Living Vampire retrieved the pendant -- causing it to graft itself into his very throat -- and the Man-Wolf joined him in a battle against Spider-Man. So shocked was Kristine by the battle-- that she forgot that her fiancee was the Man-Wolf. He remembers how his partnership with the Living Vampire ended when Spider-Man defeated him... and he never understood why he fought that battle.

He remembers the Man-Wolf and Simon Stroud atop the Statue of Liberty... and how Colonel John Jameson found himself on the bank of Hudson Bay... suffering from a shoulder wound and half-drowned. After making his way up the escarpment, his next appearance is in the lobby of the Daily Bugle building, and an elevator ride suffered in silence... until this particular passenger finds himself at the Daily Bugle editorial offices --

J. Jonah Jameson helps his son to his inner room...and to the couch... The elder Jameson bandages the shoulder wound, and urges his son to relax...

As the Daily Bugle publisher hopes his son will be free from dreams, NASA official Franklin Campbell is speaking with Stevens about Colonel John Jameson. Although the Colonel is on an extended leave of absence, he has been notified to report for duty two weeks ago. With no Colonel in sight, John Jameson is declared awol, and the FBI are called in to bring him back.

John Jameson awakens, still injured, and still weakened. His father has called for a doctor, but John can't stay, and knows that the doctor would report every gunshot wound to the authorities! An investigation would uncover what he is! There is no way anyone is going to find out!

It is late-afternoon when John Jameson makes his way down the windy streets of Manhattan, and on Riverside Drive. Checking the morning mail is now deemed a most ludicrous act, and even coming home is no longer what it once was. It must have been him as the Man-Wolf, who slashed his Air Force uniform... and who smashed his fiancee's portrait! How could his other self despise the one he loves?

Is the Man-Wolf driven by the darker side of his psyche? If he could somehow smash the portrait -- what would happen if the Man-Wolf met her in person? That must never happen. Half an hour later, he meets with Kristine, and tries to tell her why he must leave her.

Three knocks interrupt the couple, and Kristine answers the door. Two police officers are looking for Colonel John Jameson, and now they have found him! They have orders to bring him in for questioning -- in connection with what happened last night. There is no need for them to use their guns...

He will go with them quietly. Kristine is left alone with several questions and no answers. It was tough enough that it had to happen in front of his girl... but if he hasn't done anything wrong, he will be right back with her -- while there's still a moon in the night sky.

As the two officers return their attention to the street ahead... they do not see John Jameson in the back seat, and how the lunar rays come in contact with the moon rock pendant grafted into his throat. The pendant flares to sudden life... as John Jameson recedes -- "GUHRRR" and the two officers start to wonder what could possibly have made that gutteral sound --

The Man-Wolf bursts free from the fast-moving squad car!

It was too dark for them to see what happened... but they must keep their eyes on the road -- because they are caught in a skid--! They are going to "KRASH!" The sound of metal striking brick echoes, and fades... with the hissing of steam from a busted radiator... and the eerie baying of the Man-Wolf.

On the cover of Creatures On The Loose #31, the Man-Wolf is unhappy at being a back-seat driver, especially in a squad car with two understandably unhappy officers.

The Statue of Liberty played an important role in "Planet Of The Apes," which was a Marvel magazine with stories by Doug Moench and art by George Tuska.

Simon Stroud went after Morbius the Living Vampire in the pages of Fear.

In the Hulk's early days, Robert Bruce Banner would transform at night.

Doug Moench is no stranger to characters like the Man-Wolf, having written Werewolf By Night.

The Man-Wolf first appeared and fought Spidey in The Amazing Spider-Man #124 - #125.

Steve Chung
"The Beast Review!"