“Man and Wolf, Part 5 of 6: Leader of
Writer: Mark Gruenwald
Penciler: Rik Levins
Inker: Danny Bulanadi
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Gina Going
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco
One reason “Man and Wolf” has appealed to me for so long is that, for someone who is not overly familiar with the character and his history, it doesn't seem like this should be a Captain America story.
This is the issue that proved it is.
We open with Nightshade directing CapWolf into the “Punishment Pit” – the cage where Moonhunter was disciplining werewolves back in part 1 – if he wants any chance of being restored to his human form. He goes along with it, I presume because of the pheromone control Nightshade was trying to exert at the end of last issue, although there's no callback to it.
I don't like to make fun of people's names. Since mine rhymes, it feels like chucking stones from inside a glass house. But nearly a full minute of Googling brought me only results for this character (Dredmund Cornwell, aka the Druid) and doctors whose first names are Edmund. So I feel safe in saying this guy's path to villainy was paved by his parents. Had they just called him Edmund or Ernie or Doug, he might have been an accountant or a dentist or a mechanic. It's kind of like how nobody in the Green Lantern Corps should have been surprised when Sinestro went bad.
Along those lines, we also learn Moonhunter's name is... Zachary Moonhunter. Perhaps more importantly, he and Nightshade neither one seem to be fully on board with Dredmund's plans, whatever they are. (They possibly involve cutting off Dr. Druid's pony tail, which Dredmund does, leading to a shot of it on the floor, so maybe that will come into play later?)
A cutaway shows that another wolfen character, X-Force's Feral, has also gone missing and Cable is off to look for her. Shatterstar mentions Feral has been missing since the previous night. Meanwhile, Wolfsbane's been gone for days and we get no shots of anybody from X-Factor worrying about her. I'm disappointed in you Havok, Strong Guy and Multiple Man. (Polaris and Quicksilver, I'm not surprised.)
I don't understand Dredmund's ritual when Druid's presence is apparently a happy accident. Maybe it will be explained next issue. Maybe it won't. I'm not too worried. The story remains a blast, and the scene of CapWolf rallying the troops could have been hokey but it just reminded me of the strength of the character. One of my favorite Cap stories (although there are many I haven't read) is “Castaway in Dimension Z,” where he's far from America and most of the things we think of him as fighting for. But he's still Steve Rogers, daggone it.