The Marvel Comics You Should Read After Werewolf By Night

"Werewolf By Night" has arrived on Disney+ just in time for the spooky season and luckily, it rules/ The Marvel special stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Jack Russell, a man who transforms into the titular beast under the light of the full moon. Other notable Marvel characters appearing in the special are Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) and Ted Sallis (Carey Jones), aka Man-Thing — who looks amazing by the way. The special is a bold swing for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, something that has felt increasingly rare as of late, and director/composer Michael Giacchino has brought this formerly unexplored corner of Marvel Comics to brilliant life.

Comics got increasingly weird throughout the '50s and '60s as creators struggled to work around the harsh restrictions imposed by the Comics Code Authority — seriously, some of those stories are wild! By the '70s, the CCA had relaxed a bit and monsters were once again fair game, leading to the creation of Jack Russell in 1972. With Jack making his MCU debut, hopefully you have an urge to go digging into some back issue bins. Let's look not only at him, but also Elsa, Ted, and just Marvel horror in general. What should you read if you loved "Werewolf by Night"?

Marvel Spotlight #2-4

Why not start at the very beginning? It's not always the best place to start with comics to be sure, but for Jack Russell, it's as good a place as any. The werewolf first appeared in "Marvel Spotlight" #2, which was written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Mike Ploog, though the initial idea came from Roy Thomas, Jean Thomas, and Stan Lee, who contributed the name. The art above is from #2's cover, drawn by the legendary Neal Adams. Our tale begins with 18-year-old Jack having nightmares about being a werewolf, dreams that feel real because they very much are. It turns out there is a curse that transforms the men in his family into beasts. Would you be shocked to learn it has something to do with the Darkhold? You may recall the Book of the Damned from "WandaVision," "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," or even "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," and it never fails to do some damage. Overall, the story is a solid beginning for Jack, who got his own series that lasted for a whopping 43 issues following this test run. Ploog's art works really well with the story, though today's readers might struggle with the writing.

If you're looking for something more modern, try the "Legion of Monsters" one-shots from 2007 or the Dennis Hopeless/Juan Doe "Legion of Monsters" mini-series from 2011. Both feature not only the characters central to "Werewolf by Night," but other Marvel horror staples as well.

Infernal Man-Thing

Not to be confused with DC's Swamp Thing — though oddly, they debuted within two months of each other in 1971 — Marvel's Man-Thing is definitely his own muck monster. Created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow, Ted Sallis debuted in "Savage Tales" #1, but it was Steve Gerber who really shaped him into a significant character. Best known as the creator of Howard the Duck, Gerber is also responsible for the definitive run on the "Man-Thing" title throughout the '70s. While Gerber certainly left his stamp on the character in a way no other writer has, sadly, his final story centering on the hero wasn't released until several years after his death.

"Infernal Man-Thing," acts as a sequel to "Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man," which unfolded in "Man-Thing" #12 back in '74. It was planned as a graphic novel in the '80s, but collected dust for decades before the artwork was completed by Kevin Nowlan, who painstakingly painted every page. Don't worry if you're not familiar with the original story, because it's been reprinted in "Infernal Man-Thing," which was finally released as a three issue mini in 2012. The story returns to the character of Brian Lazarus, a troubled writer who acts as something of a stand-in for Gerber himself. An exploration of the true cost of the creative process, Nowlan's stunning art makes this an unforgettable tale. For further reading, definitely check out Gerber's original "Man-Thing" run.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

I'm going to be honest with you: There aren't a ton of solid comics featuring Elsa Bloodstone. She debuted in the 2001 "Bloodstone" miniseries by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Michael Lopez. It's fine, but honestly Elsa herself reads like something of a Buffy Summers/Lara Croft mashup. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the best version of her was born in "Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E."

While it couldn't be more tonally different from "Werewolf by Night" it is the book that transformed Elsa Bloodstone into a much bigger badass. It's also a whole lot of fun. Written by Warren Ellis and drawn by the incredible Stuart Immonen in 2006, this book follows the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, or H.A.T.E., which, aside from monster-hunter Elsa Bloodstone, is comprised of Monica Rambeau (formerly Photon and Captain Marvel) — who you may remember from "WandaVision" — Stack (Machine Man), Tabitha Smith (Meltdown from X-Force), and The Captain, who was created specifically for the comic.

If it sounds like a ragtag group of characters no one really cared about, that's because it was. However, taking these heroes that Marvel didn't have big plans for at the time gave the creative team the freedom to go absolutely bananas with this book. The series only lasted twelve issues, but every one of them is a blast. This satire is probably equal parts clever and stupid, but somehow it works. It's funny, there are tons of explosions, and also ... Fin Fang Foom!

The Darkhold Saga

This 2021 mini-event takes its title from the Book of the Damned, which comes up quite a bit in Marvel horror. Written eons ago by the Elder God Cthon, everyone knows the tome is bad news for those who open it. However, if anybody would ignore such obvious warnings, it would be one Victor von Doom. Doom, intent on harnessing the big bad book's power for himself, inadvertently wakes Cthon, and it's up to Scarlet Witch to save the world. She enlists an unlikely team comprised of Iron Man, Wasp, Blade, Black Bolt, and Spider-Man to aid her, but there's a problem: they have to read the book that will drive them mad to do it.

Although the arc is bookended by comics telling this story, the meat of the event is the one-shot stories in the middle, each devoted to one of the five heroes and the horrific alternate versions of their lives the book reveals. These issues function similarly to "What If?" comics, though they are far more disturbing than the majority of those largely lighthearted stories. Each book has a different creative team, but the event is steered by Steve Orlando and Cian Tormey, who collaborated on the first and last issues. It's worth reading for the Iron Man and Wasp stories alone, but all the issues show these characters in ways fans hadn't seen before. If you want to expand into some Marvel horror, this event is a good way to go.

Moon Knight Annual #1 (2022)

This comic doesn't release until October 26, 2022, but the current "Moon Knight" run from Jed MacKay and Alessandro Cappuccio has been absolutely fantastic, so I bet this issue from MacKay and Federico Sabbatini will be equally awesome — just check out the above cover art by Rod Reis. The pair previously teamed up for Moon Knight's "Devil's Reign" tie-in, which was also great. This double-sized annual will see Marc Spector reunited with the very same character whose book he was introduced in back in 1975, Jack Russell. For a bonus recommendation, read that first encounter in "Werewolf by Night" #32-33 from Doug Moench and Don Perlin.

As for this comic, the Darkhold pops up once again in the newest Moon Knight annual. The tome reveals a prophecy that could spell death for a certain deity. If Jack were to kill the moon god, he could free his own people, who are bound to serve it. There's just one problem: to complete the prophecy, Jack will need to make the Fist of Khonshu bleed. We can all guess how well that's going to go over. This won't be the first time these two have come to blows, though it will be exciting to see them square off once again. Head to your local comic shop soon and pick this one up.