The Astounding Wolf-Man
|The Astounding Wolf-Man|
The Astounding Wolf-Man #1 Director's Cut
|Publisher||Skybound Entertainment (Image Comics)|
|First appearance||"The Astounding Wolf-Man" (May 2007)|
|Created by||Jason Howard|
|Full name||Gary Hampton|
|Abilities||Superhuman senses, strength, speed, agility, durability,
Accelerated healing factor
The Astounding Wolf-Man is a comic book series launched by American company Image Comics on May 5, 2007. It ran until its final 25th issue in 2010. The series was created and written by Robert Kirkman with art by Jason Howard. The first issue of The Astounding Wolf-Man was given away for free as part of Free Comic Book Day. A "director's cut" edition of the first issue was released the same date as the second issue.
The story is that of Gary Hampton, a CEO who is mauled by a werewolf while on a family vacation. The story revolves around Gary's efforts to use his powers for good and to be a superhero, despite having an evil curse.
Robert Kirkman ended The Astounding Wolf-Man in 2010 with the story arc "Legacy". Although Wolf-Man's own series was concluded and all loose ends tied up, Kirkman pointed out that characters from Wolf-Man's universe would still cross over into his other characters' lives as they inhabit the same universe; Wolf-Man himself appeared in the Invincible series several times, notably in a two part storyline (Invincible Universe #8–9) sent as part of an extraction squad consisting of Popper, Mantis, Best Tiger, and Claire Voyant to capture a Brazilian super-criminal known as Redeye. Wolf-Man is momentarily distracted by the presence of Davi, Redeye's ward, and captured. Weakened due to his injuries and lack of moonlight, Wolf-Man seems to confuse Davi with Chloe. Davi aids Wolf-Man's escape as Best Tiger destroys Redeye's prison. As the prisoners and townspeople, left bloodthirsty following Redeye's depowerment, Wolf-Man, still weak, is unable to stop the riot and becomes separated from Davi. Fearing he has again failed to save a child, Wolf-Man returns to base unaware that Davi has escaped harm and now possesses Redeye's powers.
- Gary Hampton aka "Wolf-Man" – the main protagonist of the series; a successful businessman turned superhero following an incident that left him with were-wolf abilities.
- Rebecca Hampton – Gary's beautiful wife. Killed in Issue #7 by Zechariah; who she struck across the face after expressing her disdain for him; Zechariah, momentarily blinded by rage, responded by hitting her across the face and breaking her neck, and then fatally biting her neck, causing Rebecca to bleed to death.
- Chloe Hampton aka "Vampire Girl" – Gary's loving daughter, she is close to both of her parents.
- Dunford – The estate manager, butler and lifelong friend to the Hampton family; formerly a businessman whose company was bought out by Gary during his rise in the business world, Dunford was actually offered a position in Hampton Industries, but chose to retire instead. Following his wife's death, Dunford, who was friends with Gary by then, was invited to stay with his family as their estate manager. Dunford is Gary's closest friend and sees him as kind and generous man who has only ever wanted to help people; a belief that leads to him to be the (initially) only one who believes Gary's innocence following Rebecca's death. Dunford is made Chloe's legal guardian during this time, and ultimately is successful in getting her through her grief. Killed in Issue #22 by Jacobsen and the were-wolves following their attack on the Hampton estate. Gary, Chloe, Mecha-Maid and Elise attend his private funeral.
- Maria – The loyal maid to the Hampton family; reluctantly let go following Gary's loss of his company, which forced the family to cut back on luxuries.
- Nathan Singleton – A corporate CEO and head of Singleton Enterprises; Hampton Industries' greatest rival. Singleton himself was a rival to Gary for years, and later embarked upon an affair with a lonely Rebecca – and gained information from her about Gary's company that almost ruined him. Singleton, despite appearing to have taken advantage of his relationship with Rebecca in order to hurt Gary's business, was actually in love with Rebecca, and, even after the two ended their relationship, he was still happy to get back together when Rebecca distanced herself from Gary, during his early days as Wolf-Man, and reached back out to Singleton. Singleton was last seen attending Rebecca's funeral, alongside Chloe, Dunford and Gary and Rebecca's parents.
- Zechariah – A vampire who approached Gary immediately following his discovery of his abilities; Zechariah posed as a friend and mentor to Gary in his early days as Wolf-Man; teaching him all he knew about were-wolves and how to control his abilities, as well as establishing his Wolf-Man identity. Ultimately, Gary's trust in Zechariah crumbled when he realized how much Zechariah was keeping from him – when Zechariah tried to find and reconcile with Gary; instead he met Rebecca, and a confrontation led him to kill Gary's wife in a brief moment of rage. Zechariah left Gary to take the blame – though was finally caught following his attack on Stronghold Prison, setting the record straight. Zechariah escaped with Mecha-Maid's assistance and, avoiding her trap with Gary, plotted revenge and kidnapped Chloe to turn into a vampire. Zechariah was killed in the final issue, before he could succeed, when the Elder tore Zechariah's heart out of chest and consumed it, killing him and reducing him to a skeleton in seconds – finally ending his evil actions and interference in Gary's life.
- The Actioneers – A team of super-heroes who are killed and revived as vampires by Zechariah to serve him; despite retaining their memories, their instinctive loyalty to Zechariah is overpowering and follow him completely. The team was finally captured following their attack on Stronghold Prison; which they participated in beside Zechariah and Chloe, in order to track down and kill Gary. The team is kept in isolation inside GDA HQ beneath the Pentagon. In the final issue, the team, immediately following Zechariah's death, is restored to normal.
- Pamela aka "Mecha-Maid" – A member of the Actioneers super-hero team; who, being a robot, was instead disassembled and kept captive by Zechariah and the now-vampire Actioneers. Mecha-Maid finally escapes when they departed, alongside Chloe, to attack Stronghold Prison, and Mecha-Maid followed and was caught in the fray, being captured by Face and his team – but was spared at Gary's insistence and later joined him as his super-hero partner (and possible love interest). Mecha-Maid later joins the expanded Guardians of the Globe and, accepting Gary's advice to let her child grow and develop on her own, constructs a robot body for Elise. In the final issue, Mecha-Maid is seen happily reuniting with the restored Actioneers.
- Elise – The artificially-created "daughter" of Mecha-Maid; initially just a hologram, she is much later given a robot body to live independently.
- Agent Hunter – An agent of the Global Defense Agency; who also has the ability to survive all type of injury and completely regenerate from his wounds, regardless of how fatal they are (e.g. decapitation). Hunter is placed in charge of the Wolf-Man investigation and, with his human partner and with the backing of the GDA and Guardians of the Globe, relentlessly track Gary down to arrest him, completely believing Gary murdered Rebecca, despite numerous attempts, on Gary's part, to change his mind. Hunter ultimately succeeded when Gary was caught at Rebecca's grave. Later, however, Hunter found he had been mistaken about Gary all along, and was ordered by Stedman to let go of his investigation after it was shut down. Hunter and Gary, apparently, made amends, and together joins the expanded Guardians of the Globe.
- Director Cecil Stedman – The leader of the Global Defense Agency; Stedman is an enigmatic and very powerful U.S. government figure, who later becomes Gary's strongest ally following Rebecca's death, working tirelessly to aid him and later exonerate him for Zechariah's crime. Stedman later recruits Gary to the expanded Guardians of the Globe, and later gives his blessing to Gary's formation of his own team – The Wolf Corps. He is a main character in the Invincible series; where is history and position is further explored.
- "The Face" – A powerful criminal with two-merged faces and a third laser-blasting eye, who was in de facto control of Stronghold Prison; formerly the most powerful member of a defunct criminal organisation known as "The Body" – with Face being last to fall and be imprisoned. Face escaped Stronghold with Gary to the UK; and then released Gorgg, who betrayed Face and consumed him. Face was presumed dead, until he was found alive in Gorgg's remains during the salvation operation – immediately asking he be taken back to prison. Gary later confirmed to Construct that Face was sent back to prison as requested.
- Agent Donald Ferguson – An agent of the Global Defense Agency; who is also a robot, and later joins the expanded Guardians of the Globe. He becomes a friend to Gary and Chloe following Gary's exoneration.
- "The Elder" – An elder brood were-wolf and leader of all were-wolves in the world; the Elder was responsible for attacking and giving Gary his were-wolf powers, making him responsible for leaving Gary's old life in ruins, and his wife and best friend dead. In the final issue, the Elder confronts Gary for battle to test his worth – explaining he had chosen Gary to succeed him as Elder of the were-wolves so they may be redeemed and become great once again. After a fierce battle, Gary fatally strikes Elder across his throat and he ultimately collapsed and bled to death – a victorious Gary stood over his body, and the surrounding were-wolves immediately bowed to their new Elder.
- Jacobsen – An influential were-wolf under the Elder's command; Jacobsen first meets Gary while seeking to kill Zechariah to avenge his murder of one of his children – when Gary (apparently) does so, Jacobsen immediately declares he and all behind him will consider Gary an ally and friend to the were-wolves. Much later, Jacobsen and the were-wolves returned to attack the Hampton estate, declaring Gary was marked for death by the Elder; during which Jacobsen killed Dunford. Jacobsen was witness to the Elder and Gary's final battle, where Gary killed the Elder, as he had wished. Jacobsen and the others immediately bowed to their new Elder. Later, Jacobsen and the were-wolves were taken in by Gary and, with Jacobsen's influence, forms the Wolf Corps under Gary's command – Jacobsen, embracing his humanity, deeply expressed regret for his actions at the Elder's command, but Gary, having already forgiven him, stated all issues between them were settled and all were welcome with the were-wolves.
- "Gray Wolf" – A were-wolf, who real name is unknown, who is employed as an agent of the Global Defense Agency; who originally "attacked" Gary, pretending to work for the Elder, but secretly gave him a hidden communicator at Stedman's behest, as apparently Gary saved Gray Wolf's life. Later, following Gary's defeat of Gorgg, exoneration and return as a super-hero, Gray Wolf joins the expanded Guardians of the Globe. After a mission to shut down Impact's former employer, Gray Wolf revealed his identity – he was the rooftop gardener who Gary, in his first night as a werewolf, apparently killed while mindlessly wandering the rooftops; explaining that, as he had terminal cancer, his new werewolf abilities, given to him by Gary who instinctively sensed his sickness, healed him of – and then Gray Wolf, a retired CIA agent, found himself back in the spy game with the GDA, as a super-hero; leaving him happier than he has ever been. This revelation finally gives Gary closure on this incident (as Gray Wolf's believed death had haunted Gary for a long time afterwards). In the final issue, it is implied Gray Wolf is now the Hamptons' new butler and estate manager.
The series is being collected into trade paperbacks:
- Volume 1 (collects The Astounding Wolf-Man #1–7, 180 pages, January 2008, ISBN 1-58240-862-9)
- Volume 2 (collects The Astounding Wolf-Man #8–12 and Invincible #57, 160 pages, April 2009, ISBN 1-60706-007-8)
- Volume 3 (collects The Astounding Wolf-Man #13–18, 166 pages, February 2010, ISBN 1-60706-111-2)
- Volume 4 (collects The Astounding Wolf-Man #19–25, 160 pages, January 2011, ISBN 1-60706-249-6)
- Astounding Wolf-Man Complete Collection Hardcover – July 4, 2017 Collects The Astounding Wolf-Man #1–25 and Invincible #57 ISBN 1534303642
This section includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- The Astounding Wolf-Man #1: Director's Cut, Full Issue, Newsarama, December 31, 2008
- Kirkman's Buy My Books Column on Comic Book Resources
- Podcast interview on Astounding Wolf-Man at comiXology
- Robert Kirkman: Of Wolfmen and Walking Dead, Comic Book Resources, January 16, 2009
- HollywoodJesus.com Review