Before the superheroes, monsters ruled the Marvel Universe. Well, sort of. While Marvel’s forerunner Timely Comics published stories about Captain America and Namor the Sub-Mariner in the 1940s, the superhero bubble burst after World War II and capes disappeared from magazine racks. Timely morphed into Atlas Comics, where writer Stan Lee teamed up with artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko to craft sci-fi-influenced horror tales about monsters such as It! The Thing That Lived, a dragon in purple hot-pants called Fin Fang Foom, and a tree man from Planet X known only as Groot.
Even when Atlas changed to Marvel and began publishing superheroes again, Kirby and Ditko’s creations with Lee kept their toes in the world of monsters, with the rocky orange Thing of the Fantastic Four, the Jekyll and Hyde-inspired Incredible Hulk, and the weird outsider Spider-Man. Most of the Atlas beasties transported to the Marvel Universe in a new form, as did famous monsters like Godzilla and Count Dracula, to regularly do battle with the Avengers and the X-Men.
In 1972, Marvel added to the canon with a take on a classic trope with Werewolf by Night. The inheritor of a family curse, Jack Russell debuted in Marvel Spotlight #2, written by the trio of Roy Thomas, Jeanie Thomas, and Gerry Conway, with pencils by Mike Ploog. Russell proved popular enough to jump to his own comic shortly thereafter, which enjoyed a short but memorable run. While Russell’s Werewolf has been a fan favorite for decades, few would have expected him to star in a Disney+ Halloween special. And yet, that’s just what’s happening, featuring Gael García Bernal as Russell and directed by Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino.
Giacchino digs deep into Werewolf by Night lore, bringing along a few other beloved Marvel Characters. But if you want some treats to go along with the tricky special, here are ten comics to enjoy alongside Werewolf by Night.