Avril Brown Presents:
Continuing onwards in our coverage of the monster madness currently sweeping across comics, movies and the like, let us now turn our focus to the next most popular otherworldly beast: Werewolves.
Like zombies and vampires, the myth of the werewolf has been told and retold in varying formats, but generally speaking a werewolf is a man or woman who appears human most days, but come the full moon they transform into a wolf. In some tales the wolf persona takes over and they become a crazed beast, in others a person can retain their cognitive thinking and sense of self when in wolf form. Werewolves are often portrayed as vicious, bloodthirsty animals, but they have also been written as campy characters and badass creatures of the night. Like their fellow mystical beings the vampires, they can also be totally hot.
Admittedly I have not followed the lore of the werewolf through pop culture media as much as I have vampires, but there are a few werewolves which stand out from the rest. The Lycans of the ‘Underworld’ movies are a fantastic blend of several genre of werewolf, and in this series werewolves are created by transmitting the virus via a bite from another werewolf, which may or may not kill you. Originally the Lycans were slaves to the vampires, but when Lucien, the first Lycan born who could revert back to human form (before him all Lycans were in wolf form permanently) and Sonya, daughter to the vampire leader Viktor, were discovered to be in love, Viktor killed his daughter and unborn grandchild. Needless to say, Lucien snapped and led a bloody war against Viktor and the vampires which waged for centuries. They have the super-strength, speed and immortality which puts them firmly in the ‘badass’ column, and though they may be a bit lumpy as werewolves, when they are in human form most of them are pretty damn tasty to look at.
The amazingly adorable Seth Green starred in several seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Oz, Willow’s laconic, genius boyfriend and werewolf extraordinaire. For three nights every month (the night before, the night of and the night after the full moon) little Oz would transform into a rather ugly looking Whedon-version werewolf. After being bitten by a precocious toddler and later waking up naked in a grassy field the morning after the full moon, Oz took the news of being a werewolf pretty well, and having no control over the transformation of his body or his mind when he was a wolf, he simply locked himself in a cage when the time came. As mentioned before, Joss Whedon is evil incarnate and simply cannot let anyone stay happy for long, so in mid fourth season of the show Oz cheats on Willow by sleeping with another werewolf (does it still count as infidelity if they were doing it doggie style, so to speak?). Willow finds out and becomes a target for Veruca, Oz’s tryst. Wolfie Oz arrives in time to kill Wolfie Veruca before she can kill Witchy Willow, but Oz still needs a tranquilizer dart delivered by Buffy the Werewolf Whisperer to keep him from turning on his own girlfriend. Oz ends up leaving town to learn how to control the wolf and to protect the love of his life, Willow. Though definitely one of the most heart-wrenching goodbye scenes in television, at least no one died, which for Joss is as close to a happy ending as any couple is going to get.
The campy version of the werewolf was covered by Michael J. Fox in 1985 when he starred in the movie ‘Teen Wolf.’ Michael plays Scott Howard, an ordinary teen leading a boring, unnoticeable teen life, until one full moon he turns into a werewolf. This genetic abnormality he inherited from his father catapults him into fame and females, for when he becomes the wolf he also becomes a gifted basketball player. What are the odds? He gets the popular girl he always wanted and the adoration of his peers, but in the end he rediscovers his morals and realizes he wants nothing more than to have his ordinary life back. ‘80’s special effects and make-up are bad enough, but when you squeeze it into an ‘80’s basketball uniform, that’s when things really start to get scary. Who wears short-shorts? Michael J. Fox, the Teen Wolf does!
Given the white hot hormonal fervor surrounding the movie franchise and my own mildly unhealthy obsession with the book series, it is only natural the werewolves of ‘New Moon’ receive a shout out. Jacob Black and the LaPush gang are (initially) unwilling werewolves who exist for one purpose only: to destroy vampires. The way their ancient Quileute legends tell the tale magic has always been a part of their blood, and when the spirit of a wronged Chief joined the body a wolf, he became the first Quileute werewolf. These wolves are not created by the bite of another, rather it is the presence of a supernatural threat (i.e. vampires) which brings forth the wolf, and the potential is passed along in the genes from father to son. Though technically considered shape shifters rather than true werewolves, they have the benefits of lightening fast speed, slowed aging and accelerated healing capabilities. They also look like regular wolves, only in super-size format. The downside? When in wolf form they share a pack mind, which means every private thought, shameful secret and mental picture an individual has is on display for all to see. These boys are already cool enough on paper (figuratively speaking; literally speaking their core body temperature is several degrees higher than a normal human), but with the movie coming out in a couple of weeks audiences will be treated to all these peachy keen powers wrapped up in several barely-legal, bronze-skinned packages. Nummy.
Werewolves in comics have seen every incarnation and variation you can possibly think of, and several that would never occur to you. Everyone from Neil Gaiman, author of ‘Sandman,’ ‘Neverwhere,’ and ‘Mirrormask,’ to the recent Eisner winning team of Art Baltazar and Franco, to countless others, have covered werewolves in their own special way. There are your wild, snarling wolves out for blood and destruction, and there are G-rated kid wolves who like candy and howling at the moon. Having one medium being portrayed in every conceivable scenario is further proof of the imaginative power and versatility of comic books.
Whether you are a canine connoisseur or feline fanatic, the appeal of the werewolf is easily understandable. Typically boasting the strength, speed, agility and heightened senses of a wolf, one of the most incredible creatures even conceived by nature, while also retaining some semblance of humanity, being a werewolf can in some ways be the best of both worlds. Who hasn’t wondered what the world looks like through the sharpened eyes, ears and nose of the four-legged folk? Who hasn’t ever wanted to just let go of those pesky human constraints and give in to their animal instincts? Werewolf stories give us the chance to experience such situations in vivid, Technicolor detail. If you like your wolves with a bit of bite to them, there are tales of villainous monsters. If you prefer a big furry beast you can count on in a fight AND snuggle with afterwards, there are stories of heroic and humane werewolves. Whatever your fancy, werewolves can cure or cause your otherworldly woes. Embrace the animal within and give werewolves a chance to become your fantasy friend.
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