The second issue of James Stokoe’s interesting Aliens: Dead Orbit sees our rescue crew working to keep the three mutilated individuals introduced in issue one alive. They’re grotesqueries to look at, and it seems a little unlikely that any one of the three would even care to survive, looking like they look, but they’re crucial to the story, as they inadvertently bring the focal crew face-to-face with the dreaded Xenomorphs.
The initial introduction of Jack, the young, confused lycanthrope – as seen in Marvel Spotlight On… #2 – would eventually go on to become an expanded and intriguing tale of a man afflicted by something terrible. Jack is a decent human being, but sudden extreme events in his life change things fast.
First, Jack is forced to confront himself and acknowledge his position as a literal monster of the world. Second, he doesn’t care much for his step father – there’s some hatred lingering beneath the surface, and when it comes to Jack, that hatred spreads in the direction of his step father’s driver, a mean brute. And finally, the man suddenly has his mother taken from him after she found herself in a terrible car accident that may not have been an accident at all.
Rage fuels the beast, terror and uncertainty rules the man. There’s a sizable gap between man and monster and that works great. It’s a little bit reminiscent of Lon Chaney Jr.’s depiction of the Wolfman back in 1941. I love that, as Chaney played the greatest Wolfman we’ve ever seen, still to this day.
I really enjoyed the parallel conflicts of the story, as they encourage a fast paced narrative that sucks the reader right in. Gerry Conway really did do an outstanding job of crafting this monumental introduction, and Michael Ploog, who handles the illustrations, turns in top notch work that for the most part, wouldn’t feel dated by today’s standards. The man was ahead of his time, and he got the chance to illustrate a terrific story here.
As much as I adore Marvel’s other big classic monster book, Tomb of Dracula, I just can’t get enough of Werewolf by Night. Werewolves were always “my thing” as a child, and they still are today, decades later as grown nerd who takes a verbal shellacking from his kids… even though they’ve all got a little nerd in them, as well.
Amazing stuff, is Werewolf by Night.
Brian Denham steps in to handle the art for the second of four issues featuring the Man-Thing, and it must be said, he adds a completely new flare for the book. While Kano’s work in issue one was top notch, Denham’s work feels noticeably bleaker. This is grim, haunting imagery, no two ways about it. As for the story itself, fear not, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s still handling this, and he’s still bringing home the bacon, so to speak!
In issue number two we meet Jennifer Kale, a struggling young woman who raises her younger brother and pays the bills by dancing, under the seductive name Witch Woman. She doesn’t seem too proud of her current career, but it pays the bills. It also lands her in trouble.
Four lunatic ex-soldiers are spending their night at her place of employment. They peg her as their next victim, and when she exits the building, off the clock and bus-bound, she’s ambushed by these scumbags. Soon, she wakes in a room, in a shack out in the swamps. It doesn’t take a genius to guess what these freaks have in store for her. Well, maybe it does.
Before the men can rape her, Jennifer undergoes one hell of a transformation. She’s certainly more witch than stripper club patrons believe. She’s a full-on witch capable of convincing anyone that’s she’s anything, even monster. And she’s going to surprise these clowns in a terrifying way.
Not that it matters, these goons run smack dab into a true fate as they flee, running directly into Man-Thing, who offers no illusions, just brutality. And what of Man-Thing and Jennifer? There’s a bond being built here and I like where it’s headed.
Another top notch book. Brilliant characters, amazing artwork and ideas at work. This is a strong group here, and they’re giving Man-Thing the tale he deserves. More grade-A work!