How Did Captain America Originally Become a Werewolf – And What Happened to Him?
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Thanks to the endless expanse of the multiverse, fans of Marvel Comics have countless versions of their favorite heroes and villains to enjoy, from the eerily familiar to the wildly unhinged. However, these kinds of shocking transformations aren't just limited to realities outside of the primary Marvel Universe.
From Peter Parker's six-armed stint to more permanent changes like those experienced by countless mutants, it seems as if nearly every major hero has undergone such a shift at one point or another. In the case of Capwolf and the Howling Commandos #1 (by Stephanie Phillips, Carlos Magno, Espen Grundetjern, and VC's Travis Lanham), one of the most iconic transformations of the mainstream Marvel timeline has been given a new spin courtesy of its own recently introduced corner of the multiverse. As exciting as that is, the fact that Captain America is unleashing his inner beast all over again begs the question of just where that story began the first time around, not to mention how it ended.
How Captain America Originally Became Marvel's Capwolf
Steve Rogers was struck by the curse of the werewolf back in 1992's Captain America #405 (by Mark Gruenwald, Rik Levins, Steve Alexandrov, and Gina Going). After being captured by the villainous Doctor Nightshade, Rogers was injected with an astonishingly effective werewolf serum, triggering an instantaneous transformation that saw him emerge as a whole new breed of super-soldier. Initially, this Capwolf was not only uncontrollable, but also almost completely unhinged. Although Capwolf recognized his shield (or "shiny thing") as something of great importance, his human side was still initially unable to overcome the voice of the newly unleashed animal.
At the outset of Captain America's transformation, his Capwolf persona drove him into the forest where he could escape the sunlight, open air, and prying eyes that came with his change. Surprisingly, his inner animal wasn't overly aggressive by its nature. Instead, Capwolf attempted to avoid confrontation whenever possible. As such, his first encounter with his enemies' own werewolf army saw him attempt to lead them into battle against their creators. As the story continued, Capwolf would slowly become more and more human in his inner monologue, which directly translated to his interactions with others. When he crossed paths with Doctor Nightshade once more, it seemed as if this new disposition would lend itself to Capwolf ending up under control as originally intended. Instead, this helped Capwolf step back into his old role as a leader, even if the team he put together was nothing like what he was used to.
The Original Fate of Capwolf
As Captain America's mental faculties and abilities to speak slowly came back to him, he was able to orchestrate a mass breakout along with his fellow werewolves and even the X-Men's Wolfsbane. What followed was a mass revolt of the local townspeople turned lycanthropes against Doctor Nightshade and her machinations. Unfortunately for them, Nightshade wasn't the mastermind behind the plot. Instead, it was Dredmund Druid who was behind these mass transformations, all in the hopes of attaining an untold cosmic power for himself. Once Dredmund was transformed into the Starwolf, it became clear that the focus of the villain's efforts was never Captain America, but rather the Moongem within John Jameson, better known as the Manwolf.
There was never any great shock to the convoluted nature of this storyline nor its relatively lackluster conclusion, which involved Captain America spilling an antidote to the werewolf serum he had been exposed to. At the same time, the image of Capwolf has become an iconic part of the wider Marvel mythos in spite of the saga he was spun from falling into relative obscurity. As a result, Capwolf has made appearances everywhere from print to action figures and even video and tabletop games. More importantly, Capwolf is now receiving a modern day return to the moonlight.
The Return of Capwolf
Rather than falling victim to a D-list villain's absurd werewolf serum, this time around Captain America has been transformed after a devastating strike by a werewolf who came into being through mystical means. This Capwolf is quick to speak after his transformation, and clearly maintains more of his human intellect than the primary Steve Rogers did upon his initial transformation. As such, it may not take very long before this Capwolf is running point with the Howling Commandos just as effectively as he did in his human form.
On the other hand, there is no telling whether this Captain America is going to be able to overcome his inner beast. Considering the drastically different circumstances surrounding this transformation, Steve Rogers might not be able to keep his animal instincts in check for very long. If that is indeed the case, then the Howling Commandos will have to worry about more than the Axis army and their supernatural soldiers.