|Captain America (1st series) #402|| || |
Issue Date: Early July 1992
(1st story) Man and Wolf: Part 1 of 6: The Prowling
(1st story) Mark Gruenwald (writer), Rik Levins (penciler), Danny Bulandi (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Gina Going (colorist), Ralph Macchio (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief), Rik Levins & Danny Bulandi (cover art)
After having a heart-to-hear discussion with Black Widow about D-Man’s condition and his recent failures to assist his friends Diamondback and John Jameson, Captain America decides to take some time away from the Avengers to tie up those loose ends. He decides to focus on his missing pilot, John Jameson, first after hearing about some werewolf murders upstate. Utilizing information he learned from Avengers files, Cap makes his way to Empire State University, the Daily Bugle and ultimately Dr. Druid, whom he recruits on his search. Upstate, Druid and Cap make their way to the murder site where they are attacked by a werewolf. Druid is injured in the battle but Cap is able to hold his own until a mysterious individual (Moonstone) arrives on the scene and lassoes the werewolf.
Running through a forest, a man thinks to himself that it’s behind him… he thinks he can still hear it. He shouldn’t have left the main road... he might have been able to signal a passing car. He’s gotta get away, warn somebody. Upon hearing a wolf howl, the man wonders which way it’s coming from, it sounds like it’s getting closer. Just then, the man comes face to face with a wolf-man, which viciously attacks and kills him. The next morning, the man’s dead body is discovered by Wolverine.
At Avengers Tower in New York City, Captain America (Steve Rogers) and D-Man (Dennis Dunphy) are lifting weights. As Cap presses the weights up and down, he asks Dennis that it feels good to work the muscles, huh? He can’t imagine he had much of a chance to do any power-lifting up in the arctic. Seeing that Dennis only has the weights pressed above him, Cap asks him if it’s too light for him. Does he want him to turn it up another couple hundred pounds? When Dennis doesn’t answer, Cap informs him that he’s going over to the jungle gym to talk to the Black Widow. Let him know if he needs anything.
Over in the jungle gym, Cap bids hello to Natasha, who is high above exercising on some elevated bars. When Natasha asks him if he wants to join her, Cap replies not really, he needs to talk. After Natasha tells him to go ahead, Cap states that he doesn’t feel like shouting and uses his acrobatic ability to make his way up next to Natasha. Once he’s up there, Natasha asks him how his friend is doing. Cap answers not too good. He still hasn’t uttered a peep since he came back. He knows he understands things people tell him, he’s quite compliant. But he’s just not moved in the least to try to respond. He can’t even get him to nod his head yes or no.
Natasha says it sounds like he’s still in shock from whatever happened to him in the arctic. As Dennis is still holding the weight over his chest, Cap replies that he guesses so. He’s having Doc Kincaid, the Avengers’ staff physician, come in to give him a complete physical check-up. On another topic, he’s decided that was some pretty good advice she gave him the other day, and it would do him a world of good to take a short leave of absence from the team. That is if she’s willing to run things in his absence.
Natasha replies of course, he really deserves a vacation. Cap states that it’ll be a working vacation. Now that Dennis is back, he’s anxious to find his other two missing friends, Diamondback and John Jameson. Maybe if he’d devoted his full attention to finding Dennis right after he was lost, he could have been recovered months ago and wouldn’t be so… Natasha tells him that the Avengers will be in good hands. She can always call him if there’s something she can’t handle. Cap thanks her and exits the gym.
Soon, in the communication center, Cap asks “Mademoiselle” Peggy Carter if she’s heard anything from Diamondback. Peggy answers no, not since that message Natasha checked out. When Cap asks about John, Peggy tells him negative there too but there’s something he may want to look into. At that moment, she shows Cap a news report covering the discovery of a man’s body off Highway 9W, which appears to have been mauled to death by a wild animal, possibly a wolf. Local authorities have disclosed that there have been several alleged sightings of a half-human, half-wolf creature in the past three weeks, but whatever this is…
Cap says three weeks… that’s about how long John has been missing. Cap proceeds to ask Peggy to punch up John’s personnel file, specifically the “Man-Wolf” section. Reading the file, Cap remarks that according to this, John’s run-in with lycanthropy was triggered by his possession of this gem he brought back from the moon. He wonders if it’s any relation to the Moonstone used by the criminal of that name, or even the Bloodstone. Cap then asks Peggy to access the “Moonstone” file. When she does, Peggy replies that there’s not a lot there but it indicates that a Dr. Curt Connors of Empire State University was instrumental in removing the stone from John’s body. Cap asks Peggy to call up Dr. Connors, and let him know he’s coming to speak with him.
At the science building of Empire State University, Cap thanks Dr. Mifune for agreeing to see him on such short notice. Dr. Mifune replies “and pass up a chance to speak with a living legend – no way.” Cap says he’s living, but he won’t admit to the legend part. After Cap asks Dr. Mifune that Dr. Connors is no longer at E.S.U., Mifune says no, he took a leave of absence a few months ago.
Cap asks her if he ever told her anything about a Moonstone, to which Mifune answers yes. It’s that gem that he and Spider-Man removed from the Man-Wolf. Curt had her critique the paper he wrote on the nature and properties of the gem. It crumbled into dust upon removal from its subject, whose identity the paper did not divulge. When Cap asks if she has any idea what happened to the gem’s dust, Mifune says yes. Curt swept it up carefully put it in a sealed container to examine. Cap asks what happened to it then and Mifune says he put it away. Pulling out a nearby drawer, Mifune states that Curt was marvelously well-organized. Here, she’ll show him. Opening up the drawer, Mifune is shocked to find that it’s gone. But she remembers seeing it just a few weeks ago.
Elsewhere, inside a holding pen, a man wearing a metal mask, and brandishing a whip tells the gathered wolf-men to pay attention. They’re never gonna be let out into polite society ‘less they learn some manners. An’ if there’s anybody who can teach them, it’s him…
Just then, a voice from above informs Moonhunter that they need to speak with him. Looking up, Moonhunter tells the voice, Dredmund, to hold his water. He’ll be with him as soon as… As Dredmund tells him now, they have another intruder, Moonhunter is attacked by one of the wolf-men. Defending himself against the wolf-man, Moonhunter tells him that he’ll be needin’ dentures long before he bites through his silver-plated underoos. Once he kicks the wolf-man away from him, Moonhunter starts to escape the pen. As he does, he tells the wolf-men that, when he comes back, he’s gonna give them somethin’ to really howl about. Now be good little doggies and stop fightin’ what they’ve become. Sooner they get used ta it, the sooner they’ll be let outta the hole.
In Manhattan, at the offices of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson asks Cap to what he owes the dubious pleasure of this visit. Cap proceeds to ask Jameson if he’s heard from his son lately. When Jameson asks why, is there something wrong, Cap replies that he’s not sure. When is the last time he heard from him. Jameson answers over a year ago, going on two years. He told him he had a top secret government job somewhere and he would not be in touch very much. What does he know about his son?
Cap states that apparently John didn’t feel at liberty to tell him, but his government job was working for the Avengers, as his pilot. In shock, Jameson asks what?! Cap informs Jameson that his son is a good man and a great pilot. Jameson says he probably didn’t tell him because he knows he doesn’t approve of his kind, not him necessarily, but some of the less reputable masked vigilantes he frequently let join his ranks. Does he think something’s happened to him? Cap tells Jameson that his son has gone AWOL, which is definitely not like him. Jameson asks that he… knows about the problem he once had? Cap tells him yes and starts to exit out the window. Putting his hand on Cap’s shoulder, Jameson asks him to please find his boy. Once Cap leaves, Jameson sits at his desk, pulls a picture of John out of his desk, and stares at it longingly.
Aboard his hovercraft, Cap contacts Peggy and asks her if she’s had any luck raising Doctor Strange for him. Peggy informs him that she’s afraid not. His servant told him he would be unavailable for the indefinite future. Cap thanks her and tells her he’ll try something else out. Cap then thinks to himself that it looks like he’s going to have to try the world’s second most celebrated authority on the occult. He supposes he should call ahead before taking a jaunt all the way up to Boston, but since the Doctor did not part company with the Avengers on the best of terms, he’d rather try to patch things up in person.
Two hours later, in the suburbs of Boston, Cap arrives at his destination’s townhouse. Walking up to the door, Cap states that this is the moment of truth. Is he home or not? If he’s not, he’ll just proceed to the site of the so-called werewolf murder upstate. Just then, Cap is surprised when the door swings open… of its own accord? Looking around, Cap determines that he’s definitely in the right place. At that moment, a voice informs him that he’s upstairs.
Stepping into a room upstairs, Cap witnesses Doctor Druid levitating with a number of items flying around him. Druid tells Cap that this is an unexpected surprise and that he’ll be with him in a moment. When Cap asks Druid if it’s really him, he seems… Druid asks younger. Yes, he recently got a new lease on life, in a manner of speaking. Using his powers to put everything away, Druid says he’ll cut his psychokinesis exercise a little short today. Druid then tells Cap that since his occult talents does not include clairvoyance; pray tell him what brings him to this Avengers’ abode.
Cap replies that he needs help finding a person – his pilot. He fears the supernatural may be involved. After Druid asks if he has a picture of the person in question, Cap hands him one. Holding it up to his forehead, Druid remarks that he’s not getting a very strong impression. Would he happen to have something that he’s worn or handled? After Cap tells him he’s afraid not, Druid asks him what makes him think Mr. Jameson’s disappearance may be supernatural. While Cap thinks to himself that he didn’t tell him John’s name, he simultaneously informs him that several years back, a stone found on the surface of the moon transformed him into a wolfman, and…
Druid says ah, like the alleged werewolf killings north of there he’d been planning on investigating. He’d be happy to investigate them with him. Cap remarks that he was hoping he would.
Later, Cap and Druid make their way upstate where the murders occurred. As they travel, Druid tells Cap that he must confess he’s been hoping to patch up relations with the organization. Cap answers “and us with you. Maybe…” Just then, Druid calls out to Cap to take them down there. When Cap asks what is it, Druid informs him that the site of the killing is nearby, and something more. Thinking to himself, Cap hopes that this lead does not check out. This occult stuff makes him… uneasy. Kneeling down, Druid points to the grass and tells Cap that is where a man was murdered by a beast-man. See the dried blood? Wait, he senses a presence nearby that…
Just then, Druid is attacked by a wolf-like creature. Once he’s pinned to the ground, Druid curses himself for being a novice. He should have known it was this close. It’s going for his throat, unless he can mesmerize it. Leaping into action, Cap knocks the wolf-person away with his shield and asks if it’s John. He can’t tell if this is John in his man-wolf form since he never actually saw him that way. Cap proceeds to ask the creature if it can understand him or if its mind is totally feral. When the creature leaps at him, Cap is able to deftly push its face into the ground and dodge its attack. He remarks that he takes it that lunge is their answer.
Cap then calls over to Druid and asks him how he’s holding out. Druid replies that the creature raked him good. He’s trying to stanch the blood flow. Blocking the wolf’s attack, Cap thinks that it’s hard to tell there in the dark, but this werewolf almost looks too slim, too feminine, to be John. Just then, the werewolf is lassoed around the neck and pulled up into the air by Moonhunter riding his sky-cycle. As he calls the werewolf “bad doggie” and tells them they’re givin’ the full moon a bad name, Cap looks on, wondering what is going on.
Captain America, Black Widow, D-Man (all Avengers)
Peggy Carter (Avengers associate)
Dredmund (voice only)
Various unnamed werewolves
J. Jonah Jameson
Dr. Curt Conners
This issue also includes:
2nd story – “The Pit and the Pitiful” depicting Diamondbacks’ time as a captive of Crossbones.
John Jameson’s run-in with lycanthropy was triggered by his possession of a gem he brought back from the moon as depicted in Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #124 and Creatures on the Loose #30-37.
Dr. Curt Conners and Spider-Man were able to remove the moonstone from Man-Wolf back in Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #3.
Dr. Druid was mind-controlled by Terminatrix into manipulating the Avengers back in Avengers (1st series) #294-297. This would lead to a dissolution within the Avengers at that time (Dr. Druid, Black Knight, Thor and She-Hulk) and they would split up. In Avengers (1st series) #299-300, a new Avengers team would be brought together, made up of Thor, Gilgamesh, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman and Captain (Steve Rogers) during the Inferno storyline.
Dr. Druid gaining a new lease on life was shown in Avengers Spotlight #37.
D-Man was rescued by U.S. Agent and Falcon and put into Avengers care in Captain America (1st series) #400-401.
Issue Summary written by: Wendigo (David M.)