The story of werewolves begins with the ancient Wolf God/Demon, believed to be one of the Elderspawn, the children of the Elder Gods. Millions, possibly billions, of years ago, the Wolf Demon spawned a race of Wolf-Men who warred against other Elderspawn such as the Bird-Women, Harpies, Bat-Men, Flying Fiends, Demons, Goblins, Serpent Men (spawn of the Elder God Set), and Spider-Men (spawn of Omm). Some of these races enslaved the developing humans, but by 20,000 B.C., most of the Elderspawn had been slaughtered or driven into seclusion, briefly rising to challenge societies such as Valusia and Atlantis. The Wolf-Men could assume human form, and humans scratched or bitten by them became Wolf-Men in turn. They could survive most injuries, but were vulnerable to silver and fire. Many Wolf-Men died in the Great Cataclysm of 18,000 B.C., and their ultimate fate is unknown.
Following the Cataclysm, the Fortisquian colonizers from the planet Arcturus came to Earth to investigate the fate of the Savage Land, which had been created by the alien Nuwali for the enigmatic Beyonders. A trio of colonizers based in the Savage Land acted as humanity's Caretakers. Amongst many other activities, they created the modern incarnation of werewolves: combining advanced genetic re-engineering science with earthborn magic (apparently tapping into the Wolf-Demon's power), they bound the spirit and DNA of the captured wolf Windracer into a humanoid. This hybrid, later known as Greysire, spread this gift to humanity via scratches and bites, and then by heredity. The resultant race was known as brethren by wolves and werewolves by humanity, but the gift became a curse as man fell out of harmony with his primal self.
While reports of lycanthropy (becoming a werewolf) in the Russoff line stretch back many centuries, the first confirmed manifestation is Grigori Russoff in 1795. Dracula slew Grigori's wife Louisa after he refused to acknowledge Dracula's primacy upon his return to Transylvania. Grigori then ambushed and destroyed Dracula, but was turned into a werewolf by Lydia, a werewolf formerly imprisoned by the vampire lord. Grigori took a second wife, but accounts vary as to why lycanthropy failed to pass to his descendants. Sometime prior to May, 1930, Grigori's descendant, Gregor, obtained the legendary Darkhold scrolls, binding them back into book form. Reading lycanthropy's origins in the Darkhold under a full moon triggered the dormant curse, turning Gregor into a werewolf. Gregor further transcribed much of the Darkhold into Grigori's diary, essentially creating a Darkhold copy, which he used as his own diary.
Perhaps seeking a cure, Gregor sold part of his estate - including Wundagore Mountain - to Jonathan Drew, who shared it with partner Herbert Wyndham (the future High Evolutionary). The Russoff werewolf slew Jonathon's wife, Merriem, and Wyndham designed a suit of silver-coated armor to protect himself, enabling Russoff's capture. Russoff stayed with the Evolutionary, who kept the werewolf safely contained for decades. Russoff eventually used the Darkhold to summon Chthon to cure him, and the Elder God nearly broke through the earthly plane; but the sorcerer Magnus forced Russoff to banish Chthon, who lashed out with a parting blast that slew Gregor. Despite contrary accounts, the Gregor Russoff who stayed with the High Evolutionary seems to have been the grandfather (or great-grandfather) of Jack Russell. Having the same name and presumably using the same diary contributed to earlier confusion. It would seem more likely that the elder Gregor was the one who transcribed the Darkhold into the diary.
Decades later, another Gregor Russoff married Laura, the former girlfriend of his younger brother Philip. Jacob (later Jack) was born soon after, and Laura was pregnant with Lissa within two years of marriage; however, when lightning struck Russoff's Transylvanian castle during a full moon, the werewolf Gregor escaped confinement and began attacking villagers, who tracked down and killed Russoff with silver bullets. Gregor's mother, Maria, was stoned and driven from the village, living with Gypsies and learning magic. After Gregor's death, Laura found Philip - who had moved to Los Angeles, anglicizing his name to Russell - and they married after a year; Jack and Lissa remained unaware of Philip's past.
Approximately fifteen years later, the criminal Committee learned of Gregor's curse and blackmailed Philip, threatening to reveal his secrets. To protect Laura's name, Philip paid them but had second thoughts and canceled payment, causing the Committee to send Max Grant to kill Laura. Critically injured in a car crash on Jack's 18th birthday, Laura barely had time to tell Jack about his true father and the curse of the werewolf, making Jack promise not to harm Philip, before dying. Having inherited lycanthropy the night before, Jack slew Grant, but also wrongly blamed Philip for some time. Laura left Castle Russoff in Jack's name, but Philip, the trustee, sold the castle to Miles Blackgar, who had it moved to an island off California's coast.
Werewolf by Night made his first appearance in Marvel Spotlight #2 in 1972 by Gerry Conway, and Mike Ploog.
Jack spent the next few years transforming on the three nights of the full moon into savage werewolf form. He learned of the Darkhold from Nathan and Agatha Timly, who briefly kidnapped the Werewolf and met grisly ends. Befriending writer Buck Cowan, Jack sneaked into Blackgar's castle and stole the Darkhold, encountering Miles Blackgar and his daughter Marlene, whose petrifying power slew both Blackgars. After fighting off the deformed Cephalos' plot to drain his power to stabilize Cephalos' form, Jack had Father Ramon Joaquez translate the Darkhold. The priest died after being possessed by the Darkhold's former custodian, 12th century Mad Monk Aelfric, and the indestructible Darkhold vanished.
Jack encountered Joshua Kane, who hunted the Werewolf, and his brother, Luther Kane, who offered to prevent Lissa from becoming a werewolf in exchange for Jack kidnapping billionaire recluse Judson Hemp; he also met mentalist Swami Rihva, who sought the Werewolf's blood to reveal the treasure-map of the ancient sorcerer Kaman-Ru on his " Bloodstone"; the possessing demon Krogg; and Spider-Man and Moondark the Magician. Jack then fought the sonic-weapons of Sarnak, his first brush with the criminal Committee who wished to enslave the Werewolf.
After fighting the sociopathic Hangman (Harlan Krueger), Jack was entranced by Topaz, the familiar of the sorcerer Taboo, who sought the Darkhold. Taboo had used the tome decades before to grant his son, Algon, a golden touch, but had lost the book in mid-spell, trapping Algon in a mindless state. Lacking the Darkhold, Taboo transferred Philip Russell's mind into Algon, but both Algon and Taboo died, restoring Philip, who explained Laura's death and reconciled with Jack and Lissa. Traveling to Transylvania alongside Topaz, with whom he had bonded, Jack discovered the Russoff diary/Darkhold copy, the Werewolf battled Dracula, and the book was lost in the Alps. Jack and Topaz encountered the kyphotic Half-Mad before returning to the U.S., and Jack fought the Committee's Behemoth robot and then Ma Mayhem, assisted by werewolf Raymond Coker.
Jack joined the newly-mutated Tigra against Hydra, battled vampires Louis Belski and Liza Pyne, opposed Ma Mayhem and her ally Baron Thunder, and joined Coker against Lou Hackett (a policeman transformed into a werewolf by a magic ring), who was killed in the struggle. The Werewolf joined Frankenstein's Monster against the Satanic Brotherhood of Baal (who had abducted Lissa), then fought the disfigured Atlas and the Jekyll/Hyde-like DePrayve. Jack briefly returned to Transylvania following Topaz's psychic summons and encountered Maria Russoff, who used Gypsy magic to raise zombies to slay the villagers who had driven her off. Maria sacrificed herself to save Jack from her zombies upon learning he was her grandson.
In Blackgar's Castle, Werewolf, Topaz, and the repentant spirit fragment of Taboo battled the necromancer Glitternight, who transformed Lissa Russell into a were-demon; the process of curing Lissa also purged her of the threat of lycanthropy, though she would still pass it on to her children. After battling Morbius the Living Vampire and slaying the demon worshiped by Brad Wrangle, the Werewolf was briefly transported to the divided dimension Biphasia by Satanist Joaquin Zaire, and he aided Paingloss against the sorcerer Sardanus. During a subsequent ski trip, the Werewolf nearly slew Buck Cowan, after which he was captured by the Committee-paid mercenary Moon Knight, who set him free when he realized Jack's humanity and the Committee's intentions. The Werewolf then briefly joined the Ghost Rider, the Man-Thing and Morbius in the group the Legion of Monsters in an unwittingly slaying the benevolent alien Starseed, who intended to cure them all.
The Werewolf, Topaz, and others then battled and were nearly driven mad by the ghost of 19th-century black magician Belaric Marcosa, but they freed the trapped spirits of Marcosa's enemies, who destroyed him, and the grateful spirits healed Buck. The enigmatic Three Who Are All ( Burning Snake, Goat Child, and Hooded One) - an ancient extra-dimensional group who had formerly included Glitternight and a fifth member, Fire-Eyes - sent Jack, Topaz, Raymond Coker, and Brother Voodoo to Haiti, where the Werewolf and Fire-Eyes destroyed Glitternight. In the process, Jack gained control of his Werewolf persona, though he still only transformed under moonlight and still lost control during the three nights of the full moon.
The Werewolf joined with Iron Man against the Maggia's Masked Marauder and his Tri-Animan, and he teamed with Spider-Woman against Morgan Le Fay, who sought the Darkhold; the mercenary Enforcer; and mad scientist Dr. Karl Malus, who briefly controlled Russell against her. Russell also joined Spider-Man and Ghost Rider against the Tatterdemalion, former agent of Sarnak.
After being temporarily captured alongside a number of costumed adventurers by the Locksmith, Russell began mutating into more savage and lupine form, a late effect from Malus' treatment. He fled Satanists Morning Star (Schuyler Belial) and his Left Hand Path, who wished to use his blood to become werewolves, then sought aid from the now-human Michael Morbius in controlling his savage self, leading to a battle with the West Coast Avengers. With assistance from Iron Man, he later saved Lissa from Morgan Le Fay's attempt to possess her.
Subsequently mind-controlled into joining the mostly criminal Night Shift by Dansen Macabre, Russell stayed with them, allowing Macabre to keep the Werewolf tractable. Russell was the only member who knew their leader, the Shroud, was using the group to oppose other criminals and to prevent them from harming innocents. After encounters with Captain America, Moon Knight, and the Avengers, the Werewolf eventually developed resistance to Macabre's powers and turned on the Night Shift, after which he went solo. After battling the Hulk in the Midwest, Jack contacted his father Gregor's spirit to cure his lycanthropy, but was told he would die unless he accepted his beast. During the ensuing battle with the religious zealot Silver Dagger and the Braineaters, a cult of werewolves transformed in the past by Russell, Jack fully accepted his wolf-self, granting him full control and the best of both selves.
Major Story Arcs
Russell assisted Dr. Strange against the alien Possessors, the Night Shift against an L.A. street gang, and Ghost Rider against a new group of Braineaters; Jack also narrowly survived a battle with Sabretooth and fought an unidentified Wendigo in Canada. Russell was captured by criminal scientist Nightshade who used his blood to create the Night Patrol, a group of werewolves in Starkesboro, Massachusetts. Captain America - also transformed into a werewolf - freed Russell and led the werewolves to defeat Nightshade's master, Dredmund Druid, who had used the Godstone to briefly become the powerful Starwolf. The Night Patrol was cured, after which Russell was drawn into a conflict involving the Midnight Sons as well as other supernatural beings in a killing spree.
During a meeting with Morbius, Jack was slain in battle by Switchblade (the insane Darkhold-powered Blade), but Jack was revived once Professor Louise Hastings broke Switchblade's spell. Russell befriended the again pseudo-vampiric (and now demon-possessed) Morbius, had a vision of advertisements on the moon causing mass insanity, and fought the Lilin Goblins, Mr. Hyde, and the sadist Morphine. For a small period of time Jack also had an affair with Morbius's possessed former girlfriend Martine Bancroft also during the same time, Jack was trying to help Morbius over his bloodlust which as getting worse by the minute.
Jack again began losing control of the Werewolf, locking himself in a cage under full moons, and even glimpsing visions of Hell as he transformed. From the Cult of the Third Moon's dying leader, Walter Clark, Russell learned that only the legendary Wolfblade could control his lupine self. With the aid of Smedley, a mysterious benefactor, Russell recovered all three parts of the Wolfblade, battled the original Wolf Demon in a branch of Hell, completed the puzzle by reaccepting both selves, and seemingly regained control. However, after Jack visited friends Freddie and the disfigured Lump, Smedley sent him to investigate a series of killings, and evidence pointed to Jack as the killer. As Russell began to mutate further, Smedley said Jack just hadn't been careful enough in his wish to be freed from the wolf demon and that he must embrace the disease or it would destroy him. Uncertain how to accomplish this, Jack found a confidant in Lump, who cared for the Werewolf as he hid out in the sewers. While Jack's new girlfriend, Roxanna, remained blissfully unaware of his dual existence, the Werewolf was tracked down by a pair of detectives, escaping only after they were slain by the Cult of the Third Moon. Though Jack's subsequent fate is unknown, he was later seen sensing the arrival of the mystic assassin Hellphyr.
Recently, Jack Russell came to Salvage, Alabama to save the Pynchon family from townsfolk led by Cal Escher. Young Rhonda Pynchon was the only one left after her mother and twin sister Suzie chose death by gun or knife. The girl was drowning her sorrows in Sullivan's bar right next to the cemetery when the gang attacked her, triggering a transformation in her with tarot cards and then trying to kill her. Russell interfered, transforming into Werewolf while Rhonda decided to do the same. After killing the violent gang, Russell and Rhonda left the town, determined to control their affliction and live their lives without fear, which will feature Werewolf-By-Night. The three preview pages show Moon Knight fighting an enormous werewolf, while the written preview explains, "Something awful is happening out there in the back alleys that have become [Moon Knight's] new home. Blood-smeared walls raked with claws tell half the story. But to know the whole truth, Moon Knight will have to step into the arena and stare down a creature fueled by instinct and fury. To survive, he must become what he faces." This actually turned out to be an anniversary (of what it is unknown, as neither the date/year of publication nor the issue number coincided with any significant Moon Knight-related event) issue featuring a brand new, retcon story taking place between Moon Knight's first clash with the Werewolf and before he gained his own series. In this story Moon Knight rescues Jack from a criminal enterprise wherein samples of his blood are used to temporarily mutate homeless people into pseudo-werewolves who are then provoked into fighting each other as a spectator sport. Moon Knight frees Jack, who has degenerated into a near-mindless feral state, from his captors; the Werewolf proceeds to rampage attacking both his tormentors and Moon Knight, who subdues him before restoring his freedom to him.
Marvel Zombies 4
Jack recently joined up with his old friend Morbius and became a part of the supernatural group the Midnight Sons. He aids them looking for Simon Garth and Deadpool who escaped A.R.M.O.R. the escape lead him and the Midnight Sons on a ship infested by zombified Men-Fish. The sip is later destroyed and Werewolf's senses lead the to the two zombies. He later ends up fighting his former Night Shift members Tatterdemalion and Digger. Later Jack is infected by the zombie storm cloud and tries to kill Jennifer Kale who in desperation seeks aid of Dormammu to escape him. He later attacks Morbius blaming him for everything and is about to kill him. Morbius fights back and finds out that Jack may be infected as a zombie, but as a werewolf he is not. Jennifer Kale then uses a full moon spell to completely turn the zombie Jack into his werewolf state.
Legion of Monsters/Franken-Castle
During story arc The List, The Punisher meets his grisly end at the hands of Daken/Dark Wolverine and his dismembered remains are thrown off a rooftop and into the gutter of the alleyway below. Director of HAMMER, Norman Osborn, wants to see the evidence but his employees run into the Man Thing and are subsequently vaporised.
After being resurrected by Morbius a gruesomely distorted patchwork of his former self, Frank Castle gains consciousness and immediately freaks out, being surrounded by these creatures of the night. Jack Russell is there trying to advise Morbius that resurrecting the vigilante is a bad idea when Castle awakens and goes on the rampage. But apparently they need him.
The Legion of Monsters is now currently operating beneath the streets of New York City, where they have sought solace from their ultimate enemy and a greater monster than any of them; the monster hunter Robert Hellsgaard. Hellsgaard has come for an ancient and powerful artifact of great power that Morbius has hidden. But when he comes to get it, bringing with him a legion of monster slaying bionic samurai, they initiate a full scale attack that is nothing short of an act of genocide.
In this arc, Werewolf permanently in his lycanthropic state, is Morbius' closest friend and right hand man. There to advise Morbius, his literal leader-of-the-pack/alpha male instinct is threatened by the addition of Franken-Castle not just typically because he like Hellsgaard is a breed of monster not associated with his own kind, but because he is potentially a great threat to the legion's salvation.
Werewolf and Castle clash from the outset in a battle of wits and insults, Werewolf being reduced to the image of a mangy stray by Castle but with Castle himself reminded of the animal he became long before they made him a virtual Frankenstein's Monster. Given the choice between joining the Legion of Monsters or simply laying down and dying, Castle despaired and depressed by his state, skulks off into the sewers to die but when Hellsgaard and his army attack, it comes down to Werewolf alone to stem the tide and he comes across a samurai with the scarring of a werewolf's claws on his armour. Hellsgaard's army haven't just come straight for the legion, they've been wiping out monsters worldwide.
Surrounded, injured and fighting with his every last ounce of strength and bad attitude, Werewolf is saved by Franken-Castle who proceeds to cut through Hellsgaard's army effortlessly and the two fight side by side begrudgingly with the help of the Man Thing. But although they literally raise hell, Morbius and Manphibian have been captured, along with the mysterious artifact, the Bloodstone, and their rescue and the salvation of the Legion of Monsters now depends on the tumultuous alliance of Werewolf by Night Jack Russell and Franken-Castle.
They learn that Hellsgaard's reason for his demented sense of vengeance towards all monsters is because a werewolf slaughtered Hellsgaard's family along with their entire township. In return, Hellsgaard wiped out the werewolf but didn't stop there until finally Dracula, the Prince of Darkness himself, sent Hellsgaard to Hell. Upon learning of Hellsgaard's origin, Franken-Castle leaves Werewolf in charge of the Legion of Monsters until the rescued Morbius is returned.
Lastly, after Castle is resurrected as his former self upon being imbued with the demonic power of the Bloodstone, he is left to roam wild on Monster Island, to regenerate and regroup his thoughts. But he is put in danger of growing insane with the rage of the Bloodstone. With the arrival of the artifact's heir, Elsa Bloodstone, to rightfully reclaim it, the Legion must deal with her to protect their own kind, which means possibly killing Castle to get it back. All but Werewolf want to be rid of the curse of the Bloodstone and Frank Castle peacefully, but when a well-meaning gunshot fails to kill Castle and a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the unstoppable and insane killer is initiated, Werewolf above all assumes control of the hunt and yet is forced to use all his resolve to ensure that Castle doesn't wipe out the Legion as Werewolf first feared.
Powers and Abilities
Werewolf by Night has the power of lycanthropy, the curse of the werewolf. As such his power is affected, but not entirely controlled by, the moon. The more full the moon in the night sky the more wolven Jack becomes. In his transformed state he has increased strength, dexterity and agility. He also holds heightened senses and a healing factor. Last, Jack has razor sharp claws and teeth as a wolfman.
His enhanced vision extends to the ultraviolet and infrared ranges, allowing him to examine the physical and mental state of other individuals. He is virtually impossible to kill, recovering from non-fatal wounds ten times faster than an average human. His werewolf lineage seemed more durable than other werewolves for unknown reasons.
His strength is not well charted, though he has been shown to easily out muscle such powerhouses as Sabretooth.
Jack can also choose to infect others with lycanthropy via a bite or scratch. For a long while, this was not a choice, all bitten by Jack would either die or become a werewolf. Though, after years of training and control, Jack can now choose who joins him as a creature of the darkness.
In his human form, Russell relies on his above average intelligence and peak human physical abilities. It is not shown if he has heightened senses, but he does have a stronger healing factor, but not as strong when he is in his wolf form. In human form he has been shown to heal from a bullet within minutes.
This reality is ruled by Kulan Gath and Werewolf by Night is one of his servants.
In this reality, he is a part of the team known as the Supernaturals. He helps them fight Jack-O-Lantern and his horde of demons/monsters.
Jack was the only survivor of a werewolf massacre in a little town. The police found him with a drop of blood on his forehead. He was very sick up and quiet with few friends through puberty and childhood. Mysteriously his parents took him to the Babylon Group until the age of 12. However when he was 18 he was invited at a farewell party, where he got drunk and got away from his friends to see his reflection in the nearby water only to see a wolf. The next day he woke up in his bed covered in blood and found his parents torn to pieces in their bed. On the wall there was written: "They lied to you".
From then on he started running all over the world trying to find a cure to his curse or psychosis. He lived as a fugitive by being hunted down by police and changing names 4 times. Every full-moon he tries to get away from civilians but in vain. Once he ate a detective, disfigured his female partner and even killed a tramp. He tried the Bible and scientific methods to deal with his condition but the only effective method was to lock himself up 3 days a month in a big silver chamber situated at an abandoned factory in a remote area in Philadelphia. Sometimes the werewolf cut himself to write messages on the wall. This took him years gaining a lot of money to do it and had to ignore people who asked what it was for. When buying tools for it he met a girl called Cassandra a.k.a Cassie and they fell in love though she never came to know his real name. After a year she was pregnant but he had to lock himself up as usual. After 3 days he returned home only to find his wife killed, her stomach torn to shreds and the baby missing with writing on the wall saying: "It's a girl". Shocked, the police surrounded his house to catch him. He managed to escape and hide from them for almost a month. When the next full-moon came he met the female detective he disfigured years before and explained that he was about to be caught. He entered the building, saw that the chamber was broken and was taken into a plane by soldiers. He warned them to leave him but they put him asleep and the next day he woke up with everyone around him dead in the crashed plane. As he got out he instinctively killed the pilot who was about to shoot him. The werewolf crashed the plane purposely at the uninhabited town where the massacre occurred in 1983. He went to the cemetery and saw his parents' tombstones and realized the truth. Another werewolf attacks him and Jack now seems to have control over his transformations. He wins the fight but both are captured by Babylon Group soldiers and are taken to the clinic. Doctor Kalbfleisch, who used to visit him told him everything. Jack is framed by the Babylon Group to get to them and that the other werewolf is actually his sister Jenny, who also stole his baby by killing Cassie because she was searching for his blood and caused the 1983 massacre.
The Babylon Group had been taking patients who are born with inter-species abilities and have tests run on them against their will. Jenny died from the wounds suffered in the fight. They told him to help his daughter with his condition too but he refused and tried to escape with his daughter but was stopped by their patients: a vampire and a female Frankenstein-type monster.The Doctor and a co-worker shoot him with a chemical-laced buckshot and take his daughter and him back into custody.
Ten years later his daughter, now at her adoptive parents' house, learns the truth of that night from blood memory and has her first transformation. She kills the parent's who happened to be the ones to shoot her father and lock him up, and goes to set her father free.
- Werewolf by Night appears in The Super Hero Squad Show episode "This Man-Thing, This Monster," voiced by Rob Paulsen.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, Jack Russell was part of a monster squad team similar to the Midnight Sons run by Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. along with Frankenstein, the Mummy and Man-Thing. Ultimately Blade joined the team and they fought Dracula alongside Spider-Man, but in the end The Mummy was the villain they should have been worried about. This version of Russell seemed to be in complete control of his wolf form and stays in that form permanently. He was voiced by Ross Lynch.
- Werewolf by Night appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episodes "Hulking Commandos" and "Planet Monster: Part 2," voiced by Nolan North. The episode "Days of Future Smash: Dracula" featured Jack Russell's Victorian ancestor, who was also voiced by North.
- In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Werewolf by Night is one of the monsters that appears in Jill Valentine's ending.
- Werewolf by Night is a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online.
- Werewolf by Night is an unlockable character from the 2017 Halloween event in Marvel Avengers Academy.
- Werewolf by Night was featured in The Classic Marvel Figurine Collection from Eaglemoss Publications.
- Werewolf by Night was featured in the Minimates line from Diamond Select as part of a box set that also included Doctor Strange, Morbius and Blade.
- Diamond Select produced a Werewolf by Night bust.
- Werewolf by Night was featured in the HeroClix figure game.
- Werewolf by Night was featured in ToyBiz's Marvel Legends line as part of a boxed set with Dracula, Zombie and Frankenstein's Monster.