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Werewolf by night (Marvel comics) (Classic)

Werewolf by Night

(Profile #2 - Classic)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This profile most directly follows the previous Werewolf by Night character profile, which you should read first. I wouldn’t take chances. They say that those who didn’t read the first article first are cursed to turn into chihuahuas under the gibbous moon.

I believe this is the version most widely known to fans in general. During this era Russell moved from his own series to occasional crossovers with better-known, more popular characters.

The History section only notes those appearances which were significant events in Jack’s history, though he has had many others.


Background

  • Real Name: Jacob Russoff, naturalized to Jack Russell
  • Other Aliases: Russ Jackson
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Baron Gregory Russoff (father, deceased), Laura Russell (mother, deceased), Philip Russell (step-father), Lissa Russell (sister)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Los Angeles area
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 200 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue (Red as wolfman) Hair: Red (Brown as wolfman)


Powers and Abilities

Jack Russell is a young man in good physical condition. He is an excellent climber and gymnast. He is also a competent driver, usually successful at performing basic vehicular stunts when the need arose.

Russell’s experiences with the supernatural and the studies he undertook seeking a cure for his lycanthropy have left him with some rudimentary knowledge of the occult.

Jack’s controlled werewolf form is notably stronger and tougher than before. He was even able to temporarily hold off Iron Man, who was wearing his Golden Avenger armor when they fought over a misunderstanding.

However, Iron Man was at the time notably exhausted and running on low power (in DC Heroes RPG terms, he was very low on Hero Points  and some of his systems were running at lower APs than usual). The werewolf probably would not have fared nearly as well in their contest under normal circumstances.

Strong like the wolf

The feral form of the werewolf that emerges during the nights of the full moon is even more powerful. He casually shatters doors and crushes enemies’ skulls with sheer brute strength. Moon Knight, who had fought the werewolf earlier in his career and was thus familiar with his physical abilities at that time, was shocked to realize how much stronger the savage wolf had become.

The Werewolf by Night vs. Iron Man

The feral wolf was even able to briefly stymie the Hulk. However, the gamma mutate  was in his weakest gray form and and struggling not to change back to Banner as the sun rose. The gray Hulk easily disposed of the werewolf the next night when imminent transformation back to Banner was no longer holding him back.

While in either werewolf form, Jack benefits from enhanced senses including more acute hearing, extraordinary night vision, and the ability to track scents. However, these heightened senses are slightly muted in the controlled form since Jack lacks the instincts necessary to use them to their full potential.

The wolf is also immune to the hypnotic powers of vampires. It is unclear if this is a general trait of werewolves in the Marvel Universe or if this trait is unique to werewolf’s of Jack’s lineage.

Dangerous like the wolf

Like most werewolves of myth, Jack could pass on his curse by biting others. He would not learn of the people he had affected until much later in his life. Since the transmission of the curse did not arise until later and was only featured in a few inadvertent cases, it may be simplest in DC Heroes RPG terms to handle this as a Power Complication Subplot.

Jack was immune to possession by the demon Strogg, who blamed this failure on Jack already being host to “the spirit of the wolf.” This was likely a limitation of Strogg’s more than a general immunity on Jack’s part.

As a counter-example Jack’s sister Lyssa was corrupted by demonic possession while in werewolf form. Jack himself was subjected to various other types of mystic control on numerous occasions.

The werewolf once demonstrated an immunity to Ghost Rider’s hellfire. But this also seems like an outlier given that he never demonstrated an immunity to either mystic or flame-based attacks of any other kind. In game terms, these outliers might also simply be the result of poor rolls on the attackers’ parts combined with Jack spending HPs on RV.

Animalistic Mindset

The uncontrolled werewolf form shares most of Jack’s memories but only at the most basic level. For example, he might remember that he likes or dislikes someone and why, but only in the simplest terms. This person is good because she is family, that person is bad because he hurt someone Jack cares about, etc.

The transformation to werewolf also impairs Jack’s ability for abstract reasoning. He still has the same intellect, but struggles to make complex logical deductions and lacks the capacity for trained skills such as operating a vehicle. Still, the werewolf can still put two and two together. He quickly learned that Guns Are Bad and instinctively dodges them whenever someone aims one at him.

The Werewolf by Night's 3 main forms

The lack of abstract reasoning ability and inability to make human speech also limits the wolfman’s ability for Character Interaction. He is only capable of Intimidation attempts. He is usually himself unresponsive to any Interaction attempts against him other than that.

Jack’s memories of his activities as a wolfman during the full moon are similarly constrained. He usually only has a vague sense of what occurred, much like a dimly-remembered dream. At other times when the transformation is controlled and his intellect unimpaired, Jack does not suffer any of the above penalties.

Doesn’t Play Well With Others

The feral werewolf is not as mindlessly aggressive as he once was, but is still rather anti-social. Rather than seeing others as prey or threats to dominate, the uncontrolled werewolf simply ignores them… unless they are an obstacle to its primary goal to run free in woods without being bothered by others.

If anyone does get in the werewolf’s way, his first instinct will be to swat them aside. If they continue to interfere with the wolf, he will enter unrestrained Killing Combat.

Power Complication Mainplot

Jack’s Alter Ego transformations were frequently altered by one variable or another. If forced to assume his werewolf form by some means, it was invariably in his feral form.

In some cases, the physical appearance was of the ape-like controlled form but the stats and behavior were still that of the uncontrolled form.


History

(Continued from the Werewolf By Night (Early) profile.)

Now that Jack could control his transformations, he no longer saw being the werewolf as a curse, but as an opportunity to become a superhero. Returning home from their battle with Glitternight, Jack and Topaz were enjoying a stopover in New York when they spotted the Masked Marauder burglarizing a bank.

Jack transformed in the wolf and tried to intervene. But he accidentally came to blows with Iron Man when he leaped into the fray just as Iron Man was also diving in. The Marauder took advantage of their fight to disable both of them and flee the scene.

Afterward, Iron Man realized that “Russ Jackson” (the alias Jack gave him) was one of the good guys and took him back to Avengers’ Mansion to recuperate. The next night, they teamed up to track down the Marauder, arriving at his hidden base just as he completed the creation of a new Tri-Animan android.

With Iron Man’s assistance, Russel managed to stop the Marauder, the Tri-Animan, and the three rampaging animals from which the Tri-Animan had drawn its initial powers.

Doctor Malus

Russell discovered that he still involuntarily changed under the full moon. Furthermore, though not as aggressive as it had been the werewolf was still feral during that time. Hoping to overcome this last hindrance, Russell sought out noted scientist Dr. Malus.

Malus’s offer of a device to subdue the werewolf’s violence was a ruse. Instead, the collar he placed on Jack put him and the wolf under Malus’s control. Dr. Malus then had the werewolf attempt to kill the doctor’s foe, Spider-Woman.

Spider-Woman was able to remove the collar, after which Jack went back to Malus’s lab and took him in custody for the authorities.

To his dismay, he discovered that when he changed into the wolf he now succumbed to uncontrollable rages. Jack concluded that Malus’s device had left lingering side-effects on him. In addition to the difficulty Jack now had controlling the wolf when voluntarily changing, Jack’s wolf form during the full moon period became more powerful and lupine than ever.

On the prowl

To add to Jack’s troubles, he also became the target of the Morning Star satanic cult. Their leader Schuyluer Belial wanted to conduct a special blood sacrifice in which his followers would drink the werewolf’s blood. Acquiring the same curse, the cult members would then wreak havoc as their growing army of beasts brought about a modern-day apocalypse.

The Werewolf by Night leaps to the attack

Though they captured Jack, he escaped and managed to stay ahead of them for the next year. That was despite the tracking device that had been implanted in him without his knowledge. He eventually returned to Los Angeles and sought out Moon Knight’s help.

By having his girlfriend Marlene implanting a hypnotic suggestion in Jack’s mind during the day, Moon Knight was able to convince the werewolf he was an ally long enough to defeat the cult.

On the night shift

Through undisclosed means Jack Russell then became part of the Night Shift. The Shroud had assembled this group of supervillains to oppose other villains, allowing most of them to believe they would acquire personal profit in the process.

The Shroud’s true intention was to serve the public good. He did that by redirecting the criminals under his employ toward more socially beneficial acts and monitoring their actions to avoid collateral damage while foiling other criminals’ plans.

Russell was the only other member aware of the Shroud’s real intentions. He benefited from his membership by virtue of Dansen Macabre’s psychic powers, which calmed the werewolf during the full moon.

One with the Wolf

This arrangement ended abruptly when the feral wolf developed a resistance to Dansen Macabre’s hypnotic powers. Breaking lose of his mental restraints, he attacked Dansen Macabre and fled the scene. Afterward, Russell left the Night Shift behind and returned to imprisoning himself on the nights of the full moon.

Now resolved again to removing the curse entirely, Jack conducted a ritual that allowed him to briefly speak with his father’s spirit for a single time.

Baron Russoff informed Jack that the curse had originally been a gift from the Elder Gods to certain men. It allowed them to combine the best traits of beast and man. The curse was a perversion brought about by failure to fully understand and accept the union.

Just as the ritual ended the mystic executioner known as the Silver Dagger burst into Jack’s house intent on killing him as an abomination against the Lord. The full moon rose moments later and the wolf, recognizing the danger of Silver Dagger’s weapons, tried to flee.

Braineaters

A brutal battle ended with both parties limping away badly wounded. As the Silver Dagger tended to his injuries, the wolf fell unconscious on a countryside road and was rescued by a biker gang of werewolves.

The Werewolf by Night portrait

The bikers, known as the Braineaters, had become lycanthropes years ago after the werewolf had attacked them in one of his feral rages. They had supposedly embraced their animal natures and lived in wild abandon. The Braineaters had sought out Jack as their “father” wanting him to join the group.

He was at first tempted by the freedom that they seemed to enjoy. However, when he transformed again under the full moon the werewolf instinctively recognized that they were only using their bestial sides for “uniquely human sins,” wallowing in the infliction of cruelty and torture for the simple joy of sadism.

The werewolf attacked the group and then fled after being severely weakened by the fight and an incidental explosion.

A vision

Badly injured, the wolf took refuge in a small cave nearby. As he sunk into unconsciousness, Jack’s mind came to the fore. In a mystic vision, Jack’s spirit flew into his own subconscious depths, finding the wolf’s spirit chained down within.

Accepting his father’s advice, Jack merged with the wolf. The fusion revived the wolf, possessed of the strengths of its feral form but still retaining Jack’s intelligence.

The wolf emerged from its hiding place to be confronted by both the Braineaters and the Silver Dagger’s holy militia. The two groups slaughtered each other in short order. Jack was challenged again by the Silver Dagger before leaving the scene. However, his heightened abilities allowed to easily beat the mystic assassin in their rematch.

Now in control of his gift, Jack began a new mission inspired by both groups he had just fought. He would seek out others struggling with the paranormal to protect them from zealots like the Silver Dagger and to keep them from becoming menaces like the Braineaters.


Description

Russell is a blandly handsome white male, lean but with well-defined muscle tone and a strong jaw. His thick medium length hair generally flows straight, though he sometimes has wavy flock-of-seagulls bangs  if it has been a while since his last haircut. His casual attire is polo shirts and slacks with light shoes or sneakers.

In his controlled werewolf form, Jack becomes completely covered in shaggy brown hair. His nails and teeth are enlarged and sharpened, his ears become stretched and pointed, and his lower face protrudes into a short muzzle. The overall effect is more apish than lupine, except for the pointed ears and canines.

The transformation usually ruins his shirt and shoes but he manages to retain his pants, though the hems of the pants legs are usually shredded in the course of the wolf’s travels. When Jack speaks in this form, his voice is very low and gravelly. One person compared it to the Mercedes Cambridge’s voice-over from The Exorcist .

Jack’s uncontrolled werewolf form during the nights of the full moon is more lupine, looking like an anthropomorphized wolf. In particular, his ears grow long and pointed, he develops a muzzle, and his lower legs shift to favor a digitigrade stance. His hair is shaggier and darker than that of his apelike form. His clothes are completely destroyed in this transformation.


Personality

Having embraced the curse as best he can, Jack now focuses on using his bestial form responsibly when he can and restraining it when he cannot. Taking on a more active heroic role has included tracking down old enemies such as the Tatterdemalion when he learns they have appeared in public again.

He has grown accustomed to the stresses of his unusual lifestyle and takes many strange situations in stride.


Quotes

As Russell

(While fleeing a Morning Star cultist) “I could change…I could kill the man… but I don’t want to…”

“There are times you have to confront your nightmares… If I’ve learned anything these past few years, I’ve learned that there are worse things under the moon than dreams.”

As the Werewolf in its controllable state

(While fighting Iron Man due to a misunderstanding)
Werewolf: “What are you doing— ?!! I’m on your side, you fool !”
Iron Man: “Next time you start getting overconfident, friend — Stop and think about whether you’ve bitten off more than you can chew !”
Werewolf: “Yeah—? We’ll see who’s biting and chewing who ! For starters, chew on this !!” (Smacks Iron Man with the garbage can lid he was using as a shield)

(While raging) “Graarrgh ! Run while you can, humans ! For I mean to destroy you !”


DC Universe History

Suggestions are welcome.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Jack Russell, Werewolf by Night

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 03 Motivation: Responsibility of Unwanted Power
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Trust fund beneficiary
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 012 HP: 060 (Shared with Alter Ego)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics)*: 04, Occultist (Occult Knowledge, Ritual Magic): 03, Vehicles (Land, Sea)*: 04

Advantages:
Expertise (Werewolf lore), Miscellaneous (On a Tight Leash — see below for details), Rich Family

Connections:
Buck Cowan, freelance reporter w/Omni-Connection (High — Buck has moved on to cover other stories but would likely help if asked), Iron Man (Low), Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider (Low), Spider-Woman I (Low), Street (Low, Los Angeles only)

Drawbacks:
Alter Ego (Controllable, except during the three nights of the full moon)


Alter Ego — Werewolf by Night (Controllable)

Dex: 06 Str: 06 Bod: 06 Motivation: Responsibility of Unwanted Power
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Predator
Inf: 04 Aur: 05 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 016 HP: 060 (Shared with Alter Ego)

Powers:
Analytic Smell/Tracking Scent: 06, Claws: 07, Extended Hearing: 01, Invulnerability: 10, Iron Will: 10, Jumping: 01, Ultra Vision: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws represents the Werewolf’s teeth as well as his claws (+0 FC)
  • Invulnerability only activates at full negative BODY (-04 Current BODY or lower) and can only raise Current Body to a maximum of 0 (-2FC)
  • Invulnerability cannot remove damage inflicted by silver weapons or objects (-1FC)
  • Iron Will can only be used to resist the hypnotic abilities of vampires (-2FC)
  • Ultra Vision only offsets low-light penalties; it does not allow sight in total darkness or the ability to see invisible objects (-2FC)

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Dodging)*: 06, Occultist (Occult Knowledge, Ritual Magic): 03, Thief (Stealth)*: 06, Vehicles (Land, Sea)*: 06

Advantages:
Expertise (Werewolf lore), Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Luck

Role-Playing Note:
The werewolf usually applied his Luck bonus to various uses of the Dupe Maneuver, representing coincidental events at critical moments such as an enemy taking a bullet or a thrown knife meant for the wolf or an attacking opponent tripping over the werewolf or a conveniently placed object and thus accidentally hitting someone else or hurting themselves by colliding with a hard object.

Connections:
Same as Jack Russell’s

Drawbacks:
Strange Appearance

Note:
Jack retains his human intellect while in this werewolf form, so most of his werewolf-related Drawbacks have disappeared. He seldom uses his claws, but this is due to his natural restraint against entering Killing Combat rather than the odd imperative of his werewolf fighting style seen in his earlier days. By contrast, his uncontrolled form uses Claws without any restraint whatsoever.


Alter Ego — Werewolf by Night (Uncontrollable)

Dex: 06 Str: 07 Bod: 08 Motivation: Run Free
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Predator
Inf: 04 Aur: 06 Spi: 06 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 016 HP: 060 (Shared with Alter Ego)

Powers:
Analytic Smell/Tracking Scent: 08, Claws: 08, Extended Hearing: 03, Invulnerability: 12, Iron Will: 10, Jumping: 01, Ultra Vision: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws includes his teeth, which he can use to make a normal attack while Grappling an opponent (+2FC).
  • Invulnerability only activates at full negative BODY (-04 Current BODY or lower) and can only raise Current Body to a maximum of 0 (-2FC).
  • Invulnerability cannot remove damage inflicted by silver weapons or objects (-1FC).
  • Iron Will can only be used to resist the hypnotic abilities of vampires (-2FC).
  • Ultra Vision only offsets low-light penalties; it does not allow sight in total darkness or the ability to see invisible objects (-2FC).

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Dodging)*: 06, Thief (Stealth)*: 06

Advantages:
Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Luck

Role-Playing Note:
The werewolf usually applied his Luck bonus to various uses of the Dupe Maneuver, representing coincidental events at critical moments such as an enemy taking a bullet or a thrown knife meant for the wolf or an attacking opponent tripping over the werewolf or a conveniently placed object and thus accidentally hitting someone else or hurting themselves by colliding with a hard object.

Connections:
None

Drawbacks:
CIA (Run free in the wilderness), Miscellaneous (Animalistic Mindset, Doesn’t Play Well With Others — see below for details), Strange Appearance


Discrepancies

When Jack fought the West Coast Avengers in his uncontrolled form in WCA vol. 1 #5, he did much better against the team than would be expected based on his other encounters with individuals such as the Gray Hulk, Silver Dagger, Iron Man, or even the West Coast Avengers when he and the Night Shift fought them in WCA #40.

In that instance, I assume he was spending HPs much more aggressively than usual, got a few lucky rolls (such as temporarily disabling Iron Man when he jammed his fingers through his armor’s eye-holes) while the Avengers had the exact opposite circumstances.


On a Tight Leash

Though it is mostly uncontrolled, Jack can temporarily restrain his transformation on full moon nights and sometimes retain control for a time after the change. This takes considerable effort.

In each phase that Jack tries to remain human after the full moon has risen, make a Check with the feral werewolf’s INF/AUR as AV/EV versus Jack’s INF/SPI as OV/RV. Once the cumulative RAPs from this check equal or exceed Jack’s SPI the transformation takes place despite his resistance.

Once the change begins, Jack can try to maintain control of the werewolf by making a Check using his INF/AUR versus the wolf’s INF/SPI. If he succeeds, instead of becoming the feral wolf he transform to his controlled werewolf form for a number of APs equal to the RAPs he gained from the Check.

Once that time expires, the wolf begins making checks as above, changing completely to the feral form once the cumulative RAPs equal to Jack’s SPI. As his control slips, his werewolf form begins to physically morph from the controlled form to the feral one. This can serve as a physical indicator to others of how close Jack is to losing control.

By Roy Cowan

Source of Character: Marvel Essentials Werewolf by Night vol. 2, Marvel Essentials Moon Knight vol. 2, various Marvel series — this writeup begins at Werewolf by Night vol. 1 #42 and ends at Marvel Comics Presents vol. 1 #59.

Helper(s): Vincent Bartilucci, Frank Murdock, Capita_Senyera, Quintanads

Writeup completed on the 29th of October, 2009.

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