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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – The Glorious Debut of…Capwolf!

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Every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

I don’t recall offhand, but I suspect that SOMEone must have suggested I feature this one over the years. Feel free to write in to take credit for suggesting it (although, come on, it was always going to eventually show up). Anyhow, today we look at the glorious debut of…Cap-Wolf!

Beginning in Captain America #402 (all issues written by Mark Gruenwald with pencils by Rik Levins. Danny Bulanadi inks most of the arc but there are a few fill-in inkers), Captain America decides to find his missing friend and pilot, John Jameson. Cap knows of John’s past as Man-Wolf, so he recruits the mystic and former Avenger, Doctor Druid, who Cap was meaning to meet up with to clear the air regarding Druid’s tenure as an Avenger (where Druid ended up being mind-controlled into taking over the team). The two head to a small town where they encounter a werewolf. It soon becomes clear that it is a woman and not John, but before they can do anything else, a mysterious man named Moonhunter shows up and captures the werewolf. This leads to a battle between Cap and Moonhunter, who is decked out in special anti-werewolf garb that works pretty well as anti-Captain America garb, as well…

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Could that be Wolverine there? Why yes, it is! Grunwald was clearly pulling out all the guest-star stops on this six-part bi-weekly storyline.

Moonhunter ends up discovering Wolverine, who is investigating this strange werewolf town, and takes him down…

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Cap and Druid make their way to the town and find themselves in trouble…

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(As an aside, how poorly laid out is that page? There’s a big blank spot for no good reason!)

The captured Wolverine is mesmorized by the big bad guy in charge of this town, Dredmund the Druid, who had tangled with Cap a few times over the years. He sends Wolverine after Cap. You think Gruenwald is passing up the chance to have Cap and Wolverine fight? No sir!

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You might remember Nightshade from that old Cap storyline where Cap was nearly turned into a woman. As she notes, that time it didn’t work. But this time, it WILL work. This time, we WILL get Capwolf!

Go to the next page for Capwolf!

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53 Comments

The most strange thing in this story is that they give a footnote for #391, but not for #164, which was both the first appearance of Nightshade and the first time she attempted (succesfully) to transform someone into a werewolf Except that it was the Falcon, not Cap, that time.

I’ve heard about this storyline but never actually seen any art from it. He’s a bit more “CapCollie” than “CapWolf,” if you ask me.

Star-Wolf! That’s… that’s really something….

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

January 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Now that someone mentioned he looks like a Collie, I can’t unsee it. “What’s that, Cappie? Timmy’s down the well again?”

Weird story or not, that was sure saner than Gruenwald’s “evil feminists want to destroy America” storyline, the one with Jack Flag et al.

More stories need werewolf pyramids

During the height of Brubaker’s run, the comic book shop I go to had an shelf of classic and well-known Captain America stories, including this one right on top. The only one picked up was Cap Wolf, and I never regretted it.

Cheesy as hell, but back then as a kid I ate that stuff up with a giant spoon. Wolverine and Cable are in this for no reason other than the flimsiest of excuses? Who cares, it was all good, except it wasn’t.
If nothing else it was good for a laugh with this very Silver-Age-y concept.

That and Hasbro’s putting out a Cap-Wolf action figure this year, and 12 year-old me couldn’t be happier.

And now they copying this idea again with the Falcon? Hmmmm

The most strange thing in this story is that they give a footnote for #391, but not for #164,

Really? That was the strangest thing in this story? Not, you know, like everything else about it?

Wow, looks like Levins went to the Dan Jurgens school of making every action panel completely dull and lifeless. No wonder everyone was giving up on the book at the time.

It’s a fun book. I personally love a lot of Gruenwald’s run because he told entertaining stories without worrying endlessly how “gripping” or “real” they needed to be.

Starkesboro? Didn’t Dr. Strange fight a bunch of serpent people there once? Was there any connection in the story?

Gruenwald’s run on Cap was one of the best, and even his misfires (like this one) are at least entertaining.

Cap Collie… lol…

I like how Cap’s mask and boots stay on… just with the wolf parts stabbing through.

Cable’s head looks like its the size of a grapefruit in that one panel!

Sales must have been down… throw in Wolverine, Cable, and misc. X-Force members for a sales boost (I’m surprised he didn’t toss in Ghost Rider and the Punisher too)!

Nightshade will always be a favorite because of that wonderful Al Weiss debut of hers! Even the men were drawn so beautifully. Honestly, my reaction to that issue was one one of the earliest confirmations for me I was gay…

I want to see Nightshade and Cable’s shoulder pads get into a fight.

The shameless use of guest stars totally worked. As a kid I bought this because it had Wolverine in it, and ended up sticking around for the rest of Gruenwald’s run. Years later I’d scoff at Marvel’s “lets just put Wolverine in everything” strategy, but hey, we were all young once.

Capwolf is still awesome, though. :)

Isn’t Feral more of a cat-person than a wolf-person?
Mind you, that’s the same logic where she was used (and killed, I think?) in one of those godawful Romulus storylines in one of the Wolverine comics. At some point, all feral/animal mutants get lumped together, whether they’re cat or dog or wolf.

The only thing this storyline was missing was Sabretooth. :)

Nothing like seeing Wolverine getting his butt kicked by some dude with a shotgun to make my day. :) More stories should feature Wolverine having his butt kicked by some dude with a shotgun. (And more stories with werewolf pyramids. You can never have enough werewolf pyramids.)

Mark Gruenwald did some really superb work as a writer and editor for Marvel – the Squadron Supreme mini-series, D.P.7, his early writing on Captain America and overseeing the creation on the Avengers franchise, for example.

However, as time went on, I feel like he fell into “character catalog” plotting – perhaps because of too much reading of “The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe”. Here’s a story that brings together all the “wolf” characters he could bring into it. It references a story that brought together all the female villains he could bring into it. He also had a team that had all the “snake” characters that were available. He edited an Avengers story (the one where Roger Stern left the book) that referenced all the robot “villains” that were around and had a bunch of them team up. It both celebrated the Marvel shared universe and made for some really forced plotting at times.

That’s not to say those stories were bad – some were really entertaining, and some are indeed loved but strange :)

Perhaps it’s time for the Top 5 Mark Gruenwald “Catalog” stories! :)

Regarding Wolverine and the shotgun: this was around the end of the time when he was written as a character with limits, if I’m not mistaken. So he could be put down by bullets… but it’s still a really forced win for the random dude with a shotgun.

I wonder that nobody complains about the really dreadful artwork. In every Image founder article you find critiques en masse, but here silince.
That said, it looks and reads so stupid that it is great again. Cap Wolf and Star Wolf… what more is thete to life;)

@Dimo ,

Is Marc Silvestri’s an I age “founder”? If so, you should go read the comments on last week’s I Love Ya But You’re Strange column featuring Albert and Elsie Dee: I ?was off the comments discussing how amazing Silvestri’s art is, and the general consensus is in agreement.

Regarding this column, I don’t see this as ” dreadful.” It’s in the Marvel “house style,” and pretty poor to average.

I do think the celebrity of Image artists makes them à bigger target for critics than guys we’ve never heard of. I mean, isn’t the lack of notoriety criticism enough?

Further, there was a column last week about Black Cat, Venom and Carnage featuring art by McFarlane and someone else. Nary a peep about McFarlane’s art, but the other guy got ripped to shreds.

Your thesis doesn’t hold up, IMO.

The only thing better than Capwolf is Capwolf forming a werewolf pyramid!

Y’know, I had heard on this story, but never read it (I was avoiding comics for most of the ’90s). The plot actually isn’t as bad as I expected (not that it’s great, but my expectations were pretty low). The art, on the other hand, is pretty awful (although I like Wolverine’s feral face while he’s hypnotized- and I have to point out that the art is much better than anything I’d be able to do…).

dimo yeah, the art was sub-par. Star-Wolf isn’t that bad a name, though.

Ah, the Druid, AKA the Demon Druid AKA Dredmond the Druid. A villain who continues turning up because …. well, I’ve no idea. And one of the first examples of comics using “druid” as if it were as sinister as “Satanist.”

Starkesboro was indeed where Dr. Strange battled the cult of Sligguth during the Shuma-Gorath arc. Though I don’t see how any of their mystic secrets would help what Dredmond is doing here—I’m guessing it’s just Gruenwald’s fondness for continuity bits. Of course, it could be a completely different Starkesboro—it’s not like towns with the same name don’t show up in the real US.

So anyone care to explain why Nick Spencer felt obliged to do another Capwolf story with Sam Wilson?

Because every generation of Cap needs it’s own Capwolf story?

I remember I started reading comics in 1989 and my first issues were the Streets of Poison storyline drawn by Ron Lim. I loved that stuff once I got to CapWolf, it made me drop the book. I didn’t come back until the Marvel Knights Cap book.

The line where Moonrider mentions how the female werewolf has a hard bod is odd.

Also…considering this followed the Superia storyline… is there an intentional undercurrent of dominance/submissiveness in this run of Cap’s books or is just an odd coincidence? The werewolf pyramid looks like they are “presenting.”

I just love the fact that since it’s Steve Rogers, he turns into a blonde werewolf.

“Capwolf” is a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s ridiculous, but in a fun way. I found it an enjoyable read. It’s definitely an improvement over the previous summer crossover, “The Superia Stratagem” (yeah, I know, not a very difficult feat to achieve). “Capwolf” obviously must have its fans, since the current creative team is doing a riff on it.

I don’t think the art here is as terrible as people are saying. It’s not great, I’m not looking at it and thinking ‘this artist is great! I must buy everything he does!‘, but it’s okay.
‘cept Cable’s grapefruit head.

@oneminutemonkey:
“Isn’t Feral more of a cat-person than a wolf-person?
Mind you, that’s the same logic where she was used (and killed, I think?) in one of those godawful Romulus storylines in one of the Wolverine comics.”

I don’t remember if she survived or not, but that story was wayyyy worse than this one, as far as I can tell. Here, Rahne says she felt the call of the wild as an animal character (at least, that’s what I’m reading above, haven’t read anything that’s not in this article).
The storyline you reference says ‘every wolf-mutant character is descended from wolves’. And lumps not only Feral (a cat), but Sasquatch (neither wolf-like nor a mutant) in that same category.

The penciling by Rik Levins is okay. It’s better than what he was doing on the series when he started a year earlier, and over the next year after this is work would continue to improve.

Someone once offered the opinion that “Capwolf” would have been a better-received story if it had been drawn by an artist who specialized in horror material such as Mike Mignola or Kelley Jones.

Anyway, I will still gladly take this one over the “Heroes Reborn” or “Marvel Knights” debacles any day of the week. “Capwolf” trumps both Rob Liefeld and Chuck Austen.

Cap always looked more like a German shepherd dog than a werewolf to me.

Captain Librarian

January 20, 2016 at 12:50 pm

I agree Cap looks more like a collie or german shepherd…but I don’t even see that as a negative! Of course he rallies the werewolves together! I’m a fan of Cap, of werewolves, and of Wolfsbane, so I can’t help but love this.

Give this story some credit. Cap-Wolf is getting his own action figure this spring.

“Perhaps it’s time for the Top 5 Mark Gruenwald “Catalog” stories! ”

I agree! But don’t forget about his “round up all of the crappy villains and shoot them” storyline. Or his “round up all of the faded-into-obscurity characters and put them on the Stranger’s planet” storyline. Or his…

Why don’t we just make it a Top 10?

Does the team of obscure super natural heroes from Quasar count, even though there were some obscure characters missing?

Yeah that artwork is definately pretty bad, but even worse, it’s bland. But it is fairly reflective of the overall quality of 90’s Marvel art tho.

Elements of this story strike me as an attempt by Gruenwald to jump on the crappy bandwagon of 90’s Marvel trends, but as Gruenwald doesn’t really understand the trends (hell, does anybpdy?) it fits his style pretty poorly.

I mean, let’s see. He’s added the edgy/trendy guest stars. And he has a very 90’s “extreme badass that can beat anyone” villian in Moonrider, with his shotgun, spiked gloves, bad dialouge, and ability to effortlessly dispatch Wolverine. See, that’s how you know he is so badass. He can beat Wolverine. With a shotgun. And make jokes while he does it.

“No wonder everyone was giving up on the book at the time.”
Everyone? I don’t think so. Like many have said, while this wasn’t a great story it was definitely a “fun” one that entertaoned. It’s been a long time since Marvel Comics has been able to do that for me (outside of Waid’s Daredevil.)

“Does the team of obscure super natural heroes from Quasar count, even though there were some obscure characters missing?”

Would that put the famous running-race issue in the, um, running? Did the G write that?

That Cable art in the 8th panel is really, really bad.

Luis Dantas, I’m currently re-reading “Man and Wolf” and there *is* a footnote for CA #164 several pages earlier.

I loved Gruenwald’s QUASAR run too! He leveraged his knowledge of Marvel history perfectly in that series, in a really fun way, without being overbearing with it. I liked how he used QUASAR to explore and update some old, unresolved plot threads from other series, or to bring together and expand on some really cool characters. QUASAR was just a really fun, really neat series.

Gruenwald wasn’t obsessed with continuity, but he was knowledgeable of it, respectful of it and made great use of it – a lot of writers could have learned a lot from him. He didn’t always hit every story out of the park; his writing wasn’t particularly deep; but he was consistently entertaining, and his knowledge and love for the intricacies of the Marvel Universe.came through on every page.

@RobertG: Shall we open it to a top 50 vote? :)

@LeMessor: The race to the moon would definitely count as a catalog story! Funnily enough, I forgot about the Scourge, but I guess it’s kind of the same thing in that it requires this in-depth knowledge of the continuity.

@HellRazor: I agree with you that Gruenwald was consistently entertaining and respectful of continuity and I hope I didn’t come across as someone who disliked his work. I liked what I read of Quasar, and even though there was a lot of continuity, it worked as a story. I think I lost interest in the series when Quasar there was a series of “Quasar dies” storylines but it was a well-used series.

Gruenwald wasn’t obsessed with continuity

Come on now.

@HellRazor: not only do these Z-list supervillains effortlessly get rid of the likes of Wolverine, but they NEVER even consider themselves lucky and think about getting out while they are ahead.* They are obviously familiar with the superheroes, therefore know all about their respective superteams and still don’t think along the lines of “OK, I took out this guy who’s basically a pretty hard bruiser, but what the hell am I gonna do when the guy turns up in the flying suit of armor that can take apart aircraft carriers, or the thunder god who can fly through the Sun, or maybe the bald dude just thinks about me doing whatever he wants from a continent away and I’ll do it without even knowing it, or some crazy mutant shows up who can make me not even been born, and my boss will vamoose and what then?” Instead he just thinks “Well, I’ll just show them how cool my padded suit is and they’ll run away in terror.”

*I believe the guy controlling TESS-1 in the famous Wolvie-Cap crossover was at least nervous about them both here – and he had a freakin’ adamantium robot, while this idiot has… a shotgun! Well, he’s mind-controlled, at least. But you get the idea.

HellRazor –

Like I’ve said in the Bloodlines thread, I think the 1990s kewl Image-style comics were pretty bad by themselves, but when traditionalist writers like Gruenwald and DeFalco tried to be kewl, it was even worse. I was going to say that it was like your grandmother trying to talk about that rock and roll, but I don’t think this phrase really works anymore, since rock had been around for so long that lots of grandpas and grandmas are probably into it, but anyway, that is the gist of it.

I agree with Derek that Gruenwald sometimes got carried away with his catalog approach, but you know, I don’t think he was ever as any worse when he did continuity-heavy stories than guys that are usually more well-regarded than him, like Thomas, Englehart, and Busiek.

This artwork totally reminds me of Alex Saviuk. He is the typical 90s Marvel-style Bland (with a capital B) artist for me. Which means that he is not godawful as Liefeld or other Image and Image-imitator people who do not know shit about correct anatomy and background and panel layout and such nuisances but he is just 0,00% exciting.
I own almost all the Web of Spider-man issues drawn by Saviuk, and if somebody offered me a million now to name only one interesting/exciting/memorable panel of Saviuk, I would not be able to do so. Even though I really liked, for instance his run with Conway.

Surprisingly not mentioned – The issue where Cap turns back to normal includes a very quick Infinity War crossover.

Yeah, I wasn’t a regular Cap reader at the time, but I was buying all of the infinity War crossovers, so boy was I confused when Cap’s doppelganger looked like Cap, but then Cap is a werewolf.

I’ll give the art a pass because this was during the summer when the book went biweekly. But still, this is pretty epic. Imagine coming off Operation: Galactic Storm to fall right into the madness of Capwolf. It’s something, all right…..you gotta treasure it because you really don’t see this kind of madcap storytelling anymore.

And viva the Capwolf figure!!

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