The first foray by Marvel into horror with Werewolf by Night is good. It gives us a taste of Jack Russell and Elsa Bloodstone in the world they inhabit of monster hunters and monsters. The only catch is that Jack Russell is both a man and a werewolf. The choice to film the special in black and white with the toned-down bloody fights between hunters and hunters and monsters hit the right spot with me. I dislike horror with its dose of gross for the sake of it. I refer to John Carpenter’s Thing and David Cronenberg’s The Fly.
I do wish we got some background for those of us noncomic book readers on Jack Russell and his fellow monster hunters’ histories, but we don’t. The brief history we get is on the bloodstone and Ulysses Bloodstone’s ties to it, but not much else except Elsa’s father died, he remarried, and not only did her father come to despise her, but so did her stepmother.
Now, what about Hack Russell’s history? Here is the short version: Long ago, in 1795, Grigori Russoff refused to acknowledge Dracula is supreme and who could blame him? Dracula murdered his first wife. Eventually, Russoff kills Dracula but his former prisoner Lydia, a werewolf, forces her curse on Russoff in retaliation. Yet somehow, he manages to go on with his life, remarries, and has kids, none of whom share his curse. Fast forward many decades, and we get to Jack Russell, who gains a few enemies, including Moon Knight and Sabretooth, along with allies like Man-Thing, Mobius, Ghost Rider, Elsa Bloodstone, and Topaz. (If you would like to read a more detailed history click here for Marvel.com take on these characters.
Even with these exclusions, Werewolf by Night is still good, with plenty of action. I think the talent hired is the reason for this. They elevate an otherwise okay story in a nutshell; it is a giant brawl with plenty of blood and action.