Real Name: Grigori Russoff; Baron Russoff
Identity/Class: Human werewolf (18th Century)
Group Membership: Werewolves of Earth
affected by Chthon (see comments)
Enemies: Dracula, Lydia Varadi
Known Relatives: Louisa Russoff (wife, deceased), Krisztina Russoff (second wife; see comments); Phillip Russell (nee Russoff) (great, great grandson); Gregory "Gregor" Russoff, Baron Russoff (great, great grandson, deceased); Jack Russell (formerly Jacob Russoff, great, great, great grandson), Lissa Russell (great, great, great granddaughter); Maria Russoff, Baroness Russoff (great grandaughter-in-law, deceased); Laura Russoff Russell, Baroness Russoff (great, great granddaughter-in-law, deceased); unnamed son(s) and grandson(s)
Base of Operations: Borgo Pass, Transylvania; 18th Century
First Appearance: Werewolf by Night I#15 (March, 1974)
Powers/Abilities: Russoff, as a man, was courageous and
possessed knowledge of vampires.
As a werewolf, Russoff possessed enhanced human strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, and senses. His claws could rend anything from flesh to cinderblock and even soft metals. He was immune to most forms of conventional injury; though he could be injured or stunned, he healed rapidly (approximately ten times normal) from most assaults. However, assaults involving silver could cause permanent and/or fatal injuries.
(Tomb of Dracula II#3/2) <Late 18th Century> - While Dracula was in France (and elsewhere), a number of nobles encroached on his lands. The most powerful of these was Baron (Grigori) Russoff.
(Werewolf by Night I#15 (fb) - BTS / Tomb of Dracula II#3/2) <1795> - When Dracula returned to his castle in Borgo Pass, Russoff refused to acknowledge his primacy. Dracula warned him that he would suffer if he refused to kneel, and Russoff swore to slay him if he tried.
(Werewolf by Night I#15 (fb) - BTS / Tomb of Dracula II#3/2) - Dracula slew Grigori's wife, Louisa.
(Werewolf by Night I#15 (fb)) - When his Gustoff revealed Louisa's death to Grigori, he acted quickly to fulfill his promise to Dracula. He invaded Castle Dracula in the light of day, located his coffin, and drove a wooden stake through his heart. Grigori then encased Dracula's decomposed skeleton in a coffin lined with balls of garlic and dumped the coffin over a balcony and into the Danube river (or Bistrita river) below. Still enraged, Grigori smashed his way through Dracula's valuables, destroying whatever heritage he could have called as his. Hearing a muffled cry in the process, Grigori lifted a wooden beam and freed the imprisoned Lydia Varadi from her room. The two left together, but once the moon rose she transformed into a werewolf and attacked him.
(Werewolf by Night I#15 (fb) - BTS) - Grigori's wounds and Lydia's hands transformed him into a werewolf as well.
(Werewolf by Night I#15 (fb)) - One week later, Grigori detailed the recent events into the his diary.
(Werewolf by Night I#18 (fb)) - Sometime later in 1795, during a full moon in a Transylvanian forest, the Russoff werewolf stalked and killed a young woman named Valeria Patcek but then had to flee from the mob of humans hunting him. The werewolf was smart enough to hide (almost under the feet of the villagers) until daylight transformed him back into his human form. Baron Russoff then returned to his castle and recorded what he remembered into his torment-filled diary (which Jack Russell read 180 years later).
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#14: Werewolf) - As his children were born before he was so afflicted, his offspring and the succeeding generations were spared the agony of turning into werewolves themselves (see comments).
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#14: Werewolf) - Grigori died (see comments).
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Update '89#2: Darkhold / Discussion with Jean-Marc Lofficier) - After having obtained the Darkhold, Gregor Russoff (great, great grandson of Grigori) transcribed much of its content into Grigori's diary, which he then used as his own diary. Gregor's readings of the origins of lycanthropy caused the him to be afflicted with the curse via his ancestral connection to Grigori. Gregor became a werewolf, a curse he passed on to his children, Jack and Lissa.
(Tomb of Dracula I#18 - BTS) - Jack Russell and Topaz found Grigori's diary in Russoff manor.
(Werewolf by Night I#15 - BTS) - Jack read of the origins of Grigori's affliction from Grigori's diary. Dracula then stole the diary from Jack and Topaz, only to have Rachel van Helsing shoot the diary from his hands.
(Tomb of Dracula I#19 - BTS) - Dracula and Rachel van Helsing were stranded in the Transylvanian Alps after their helicopter crashes. Dracula had the diary, but decided to leave the book in the desolate wilderness because he believes that they are so far from civilization that no one would ever find it (see comments).
Comments: Created by Marv Wolfman, Mike Ploog, and Frank Chiarmonte.
Tomb of Dracula II#3 claims that Grigori
later apparently had a second wife, though whom he fathered "all of his
offspring" who were all afflicted with the curse of the werewolf. The Official
Handbook, however, states that because his children were all born before he was
so afflicted, his offspring and the succeeding generations were spared the agony
of turning into werewolves themselves.
It has been repeatedly established that Gregor Russoff triggered the familial curse by reading the Darkhold, which would mean that he had not been affected by it before then, which makes the OHotMU version more likely to me.
I have not seen/read previous evidence of lycanthropy (the curse of turning into a werewolf) being passed down via heredity. The magic of Chthon, via the Darkhold has got to be responsible for this. Gregor is referenced as using the Darkhold as his diary and as having pound the parchments back into book from in the OHotMU. However, I'm pretty certain that it was in book form when Taboo had it, and Taboo had it before Gregor, so it would have had to have been bound together before that.
See Donald Campbell's discussion below.
The Borgo Pass Castle was Dracula's second.
It takes more than a stake to keep a good vamp down. As soon as the stake is removed, they're back in business.
For further discussion on the origins of werewolves, see the Wolf-Men of Valusia profile.
Thanks to Donald Campbell for clarifying some of my questions about the Darkhold.
The Marvel Handbook and the Tales of the Vishanti are both wrong because they insist on treating Baron Russoff's diary and the Darkhold as though they are (somehow) the same book - when, in actuality, THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT BOOKS...AND ALWAYS HAVE BEEN!!!
--This argument contains good information, but is somewhat flawed because it assumes that there no copies of the Darkhold.
I'm not even sure why there is a controversy, since I thought it was clear that the Darkhold was not a SINGLE book but like the Necronomicon, copies of the original scrolls.
Off the top of my head, there was a Darkhold lost in the Alps (in WBN, no? the one found by Jack in Rumania), one in the Vatican (with Montesi), certainly one in Kamar-Taj, one sold by Taboo to Russoff then taken to America (was it destroyed by Aelfric?--Yes according to Russell, though the Darkhold should be indestructible. It would seem as if that one were the origina1). There may have been a partial copy sent by Montesi to Quincy Harker which I think ended up in Pendragon Castle...
The one from the Vatican with Montesi is the one that ended up in Pendragon Castle as seen in Uncanny X-Men Annual#6
By rewriting the Darkhold in his own "diary", Baron Russoff's diary became the Darkhold or a copy of the Darkhold which is the same thing.
Anyway, here's the rest of Donald's argument, which contains a lot of great info:
The first signs of the problem arose in AVENGERS I#192 (February, 1980). Due to reader interest in the recent storyline which had untangled the inconsistencies in the origins of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the letters page in that issue was a giant yellow box devoted to Mark Gruenwald's abridged introduction to the thirty single-spaced pages of research into the mutant twins, Wundagore and the Darkhold which he and co-plotter Steven Grant had assembled before they even began plotting the storyline. While I found it to be very interesting reading, I (much) later realized that it contained a mistake. Somehow, they had come to believe that "the arcane volume, the Darkhold, was last seen in the Balkans." This would be in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT I#15 and TOMB OF DRACULA I#18, as mentioned in the attached bibliography for The Darkhold. That's where they made their mistake, by assuming that the book in those issues was the Darkhold.
--Not really a mistake, though.
Let's look at those issues in which the Darkhold supposedly appears:
A) In WBN I#1, Jack goes looking for the Darkhold in the hope that it contains a cure for his lycanthropy. He gets the book but he can't read it so he lends it to Father Ramon Joquez to translate.
B) In WBN I#3 (January, 1973), Father Joquez has translated the book but after doing so he becomes possessed by the spirit of Aelfric, the Mad Monk who (apparently) wrote the scrolls in 1149 AD. Aelfric later tells the werewolf his origin and how Jack's father had bought Aelfric's indestructible scrolls "thirty-five years ago" (which, in 1972, was in 1937--Gregor actually had the Darkhold prior to 1930--Snood) and had them bound into a book. Baron Russoff's "reading of that evil book unleashed a long-hidden demon -- a demon which had lain dormant in (his) ancestors' veins for nigh on eighteen centuries -- needing only a catalyst to break free." At the end of the issue, after Aelfric/Joquez dies, there is no sign of the Darkhold.
C) The Darkhold's fate is apparently revealed in WBN I#13 (January, 1974) as is its history. Jack meets the sorcerer Taboo who wants the Darkhold. When his familiar, Topaz, probes the Werewolf's mind, she learns that the book Taboo wants "was destroyed by a monk named Aelfric.*" (* in issue #3. -- R.T.) This issue also reveals that Baron Russoff obtained the Darkhold "almost twenty years" ago (which, in 1973, was about 1954/55). According to Taboo, "It was in that same old Balkan castle in which I had found the Book of Sins that the spell (of changes) was cast" on Taboo's son, Algon, but the transformation was interrupted when Baron Russoff led the villagers to attack the castle, forcing Taboo to flee with Algon. The castle and the Darkhold then fell into the hands of the baron.
[The Darkhold's recent destruction is supported by the page one recap in WBN I#14 (February, 1974) in which Jack states: "But that ancient parchment had been destroyed months ago by the Mad Monk, Aelfric..."]
--Except for the fact that the Darkhold is indestructible--Snood.
D) In TOMB OF DRACULA I#18 (March, 1974), Jack and Topaz travel to Transylvania to visit his family home, Russoff Manor. Once there, they find a diary that has been bound and locked, with a leather tab that opens a hidden door to a secret passage leading to a place from which Jack's father could observe Castle Dracula with a telescope. Since the book had the English word "diary" on its cover and since the secret door was operated by remote control (electronically?), Jack and Topaz apparently assumed that it was Jack's father's diary.
E) In WBN I#15 (March, 1974), which is continued from TOD I#18, Jack calls the book "my father's diary -- sealed with unbreakable steel." Later, after Topaz opens the lock, Jack reads how his great, great, great grandfather became a werewolf in 1795. The fact that Jack later refers to the book as the "diary of my grandfather" indicates that he no longer believes that it is his father's diary.
Of equal relevance is what Dracula has to say about the book. Dracula claims that he has "searched so long for the diary of Baron Russoff -- a book far more fearful and terrifying than the ancient Darkhold scrolls -- for in its bound pages lies the secret of the Second Book of Sins -- a book which can threaten the very life of the Lord of Vampires -- a book that could mean the death of Dracula." Dracula later refers to the diary as the Second Book of Sins and the book is described as "the ancient diary."
--Meaning possibly that the diary was actually a partial copy of the Darkhold. It could have existed before Grigori had it, or it could have been Gregor that added the information. If the former were true, than Chthon's magic might have been what originally bound the curse of lycanthropy to Grigori's family line. Dracula's referring to the diary as the Second Book of Sins effectively nullifies this whole argument, right?
F) In TOMB OF DRACULA I#19 (April, 1974), which is continued from WBN I#15, Dracula and Rachel van Helsing are stranded in the Transylvanian Alps after their helicopter crashes (in FB). Dracula has "the book -- those ancient scrolls inscribed with a spell to utterly destroy all vampires" but he decides to leave the book in the desolate wilderness because he believes that they are so far from civilization that no one would ever find it.
G) In AVENGERS I#186 (July, 1979), Modred leads Wanda Maximoff to the ruins of Wundagore where they come across a book, the Darkhold, floating above an altar. This issue also contains the first mention of the name Chthon, Modred's new master.
H) In AVENGERS I#187 (September, 1979), a Chthonized Scarlet Witch reveals the true origin and history of the Darkhold. Among those mentioned as having possessed the book are Morgan Le Fey, Magnus, Modred, Saint Brendan, Cagliostro, Taboo and finally Gregor Russoff. There is no mention of Russoff's diary or of where Modred found the Darkhold.
When Gruenwald and Grant were doing their research, they made a mistake by assuming that the book which appeared in TOD 18/WBN 15/TOD 19 was the Darkhold when it was really just the diary of the 18th Century Baron Russoff. Later, when it came time for the Marvel Handbook staff to write up an entry for the Darkhold, they must have realized that there was an inconsistency and they tried to explain it away by coming up with a way to combine the diary and the Darkhold into one single book. Unfortunately, their explanation doesn't really fit with the "facts" which I've listed above. Even worse, the writers of the Tales of the Vishanti back-up series in DOCTOR STRANGE III apparently accepted the Handbook's explanation without realizing the flaw, then wrote several stories using those "facts."
--I think it's just a matter of interpretation. Dracula calls it "a second Book of Sins," and so it was, at least, a copy of the Darkhold from the very start.
Anyway, here's my take on the situation. The Darkhold appeared in WBN I#1 & 3 (in California) and then disappeared without explanation. It didn't truly reappear until Avengers I#186 (in Wundagore). What happened to it has never been revealed but it almost certainly does not involve Morgan Le Fey. Despite what the Tales of the Vishanti claim, there's no evidence that Morgan Le Fey retrieved the Darkhold from the Transylvanian Alps (especially since it was actually the diary that Dracula had abandoned there). And the Darkhold didn't actually appear in SPIDER-WOMAN I#2 and 6 (only Morgan and her minions searching for it).
As for the Russoff family curse, it began in 1795 when Baron (Grigori) Russoff was bitten by a werewolf and became one himself. He recorded his experiences in a diary which was passed down through the generations. Since this baron never possessed the Darkhold, it thus could not have been him (he?) who included those vampire-destroying spells in his diary.
In the 20th century, Baron Gregory Russoff inherited his ancestor's diary and had it rebound with new pages added so that he could record his occult experiences there. For security, he had a steel band and a lock added to the diary. Russoff later acquired (by purchase or "confiscation") the Darkhold (either in parchment or book form) and, by reading from it in the light of a full moon, accidentally triggered his family's latent curse in himself and his offspring (but not in his brother, Phillip). At some point before his death, Gregory copied some spells from the Darkhold into his ancestor's diary, including the spell later known as the Montesi Formula. At some other point, Dracula realized that Russoff had had the Darkhold and feared that he may have recorded the vampire-destroying spell in a secure location (like in his ancestral diary). Dracula finally seized the diary but soon abandoned it in the Transylvanian Alps (where it should still be lying).
--I think we pretty much agree on this; it's just a matter of semantics.
Lydia's last name was revealed in the Werewolves profile in OHotMU A-Z HC#13. Grigori's second wife was named as Krisztina Russoff in Werewolf's profile in OHotMU HC#13.
Profile by Snood.
Grigori Russoff should be distinguished from
Gregory "Gregor" Russoff,
his great grandson, and the father of Jacob Russoff, aka Jack Russell, the
He was a werewolf, too.
Lydia Varadi has no known connection to:
A werewolf of unknown past, she was imprisoned within Castle Dracula (Borgo Pass), who used her as a blood source. However, he was unable to control her when she was in wolf form, and so he kept her within a room with a thick door barred by a large wooden pole. She was freed by Grigori Russoff after he destroyed Dracula, and she told him how Dracula had slain her family. Shortly after they left the castle, she transformed into a werewolf and attacked him, passing on the curse of lycanthropy to him.
--Werewolf by Night I#15
Werewolf by Night I#15, p 16, panel 3
panel 5 + 6 (Lydia Varadi)
p17, panel 2 (vs werewolf)
Last updated: 11/01/04
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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