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Captain America #402: Review

Jul 1992
Mark Gruenwald, Rik Levins

Story Name:

The Prowling

Review & Comments

3.5 stars

Captain America #402 Review by (July 17, 2016)
Comments: Man and Wolf, Part One of Six. Story title is a play on THE HOWLING, a famous werewolf movie. First appearance of Zack Moonhunter who will becomes a good guy and show up frequently through issue #443, his last appearance anywhere. Dredmund Druid a/k/a Cromwell was introduced in STRANGE TALES #144-145 as an enemy of Nick Fury and SHIELD, then fought Cap in CAP #187-188 and returned in CAP #256; this is his final appearance (as of 2016). John Jameson became the Man-Wolf in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #124 and had his own series in CREATURES ON THE LOOSE #30-37; he lost the Moonstone in SPECTACULAR SPIDEY ANNUAL #3. The Moonstone will be called the Moongem in issues #406-407.

Review: “Man and Wolf” better known as the Capwolf Saga has the reputation of being possibly the worst story in Cap's long and varied history. So is it? Is it really the worst? Well, maybe. The first two issues are okay setting up “Captain America Versus the Wolfman” but when Cap becomes the Wolfman the whole thing turns stupid, Capwolf running around with his tattered costume and thinking feral thoughts to himself? And then growling out a few words in the final issues? All hard to sit through since Gruenwald seems to have been playing this with a straight face. Two major characters named Druid? Well, they kept referring to the baddie by his first name to keep things clear; thank Marvel for small favors. Wolverine shows up? And contributes nothing special to the plot? Was this around the time when he was Marvel's biggest draw—even if a wolverine is nothing like a wolf? That would explain things. There is no explanation for the arrival of Cable who is there to do some shooting when the plot called for it and he vanishes unnoticed. In the climax, Starwolf uses hundreds of words to say he wants to take over the world and then he's beaten merely by smashing his magic toy and all the werewolves go home. Perhaps the best part is what comes at the end: John Jameson gives a very realistic reason for why he wants to drop out of the superheroing world. It's kind of what Diamondback's similar renunciation was supposed to achieve but it gets him out of the series rather than making her the off-again on-again subplot for the next couple dozen issues. Way to go, John. Maybe that by itself prevents Capwolf from being the worst arc ever.

Review P. 2: Oh, so what do I think is the worst Cap story? The Marvel Knights Cap series in the wake of 9/11: it is horrible and obnoxious and makes a mockery of patriotism while portraying Captain America as a dupe of a wicked government; Capwolf is just dumb and not a lot of fun.

Review P. 3: Plus the Diamondback back-up story (Diamondback-up?) is also a disappointment: the usually dynamic Rachel is beaten down and cowed throughout the piece and comes off as victim more than hero. The internal politics of the Skeleton Crew are not very compelling and the big reveal—that Cutthroat is Rachel's brother—is negated by having him killed off as quickly as possible almost as soon as we find out who he is. Add to this largely mediocre art and the whole thing, setting up the following story arc, seems like wasted pages.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Captain America #402 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

A man lost in the nighttime woods is attacked and killed by a werewolf....moments later, Wolverine appears on the trail of the monster....

Rescued from the Arctic (issue #400), D-Man is still in shock from his ordeal. This leads Captain America to want to search for two other missing friends, Diamondback and John Jameson. Leaving the Avengers in the charge of Black Widow, Cap decides to follow up on the report of the sighting of a werewolf in northern Massachusetts. Knowing John Jameson was once the Man-Wolf, Cap discovers that the crumbled remnants of the Moonstone which caused his transformation is missing from Curt Connors' lab....

Elsewhere, Moonhunter, a silver-armored man (with silver dreadlocks) is disciplining a dungeon full of werewolves with a whip; he is summoned to take care of an intruder....

Cap talks to J. Jonah Jameson about his son; JJJ was not aware that John was working for Cap and does not know where he is. Learning that Dr. Strange is unavailable, Cap visits his second choice, former Avenger Dr Druid, who is happy to join Cap in investigating the werewolf killing up north....

They take a Jet-Cycle to a forest area where they are attacked by a female werewolf; in the nick of time Moonhunter arrives on a sky-craft and lassos the wolf by the neck....

2. “The Pit and the Pitiful” 2.5/5

Writer: Mark Gruenwald. Pencils: Larry Alexander. Inks: Ariane Lenshoek. Colors: Ariane Lenshoek.

Synopsis: Crossbones forces the captive Diamondback to fight him, practicing her moves over and over until she gets it right. Diamond confesses that she has no more desire for a life of danger, not since she was nearly killed by Snapdragon (issues #388-389) but the baddie keeps forcing her to train. He leaves her in the dark where she tries to retain a grip on her sanity as Crossbones schemes to get his old job as Red Skull's henchman back. Meanwhile, we see at the Skull's HQ, the new henchman, Cutthroat, kisses an abused Mother Night....

Rik Levins
Danny Bulanadi
Gina Going
Rik Levins (Cover Penciler)
Danny Bulanadi (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)

(James Howlett)

> Captain America: Book info and issue index

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