COLONEL WITHERSPOON

Real Name: Witherspoon (first name unrevealed)

Identity/Class: Human (1930s era)

Occupation: Colonel (retired).

Group Membership: Formerly unidentified military, likely US Army

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Jeffrey Winters

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Unrevealed

 

First Appearance: Marvel Preview#16 (Fall 1978)

Powers/Abilities: Colonel Witherspoon displayed no special skills or abilities in the short time before he was murdered, but he was presumably a capable military man to have reached the rank of Colonel.

 

Height: 5'9" (by approximation - see comments)
Weight: 180 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Unrevealed (appeared to be a light color - possibly white with age)

 

History:
(Marvel Preview#16 (fb) - BTS) - An apparently retired military man, Colonel Witherspoon was a first class misoneist (someone who is intolerant of change).

(Marvel Preview#16) - In 1937 (see comments) Witherspoon was traveling on the Manhattan El train on a night with a full moon, unaware he was sharing the carriage with a young werewolf, Jeffrey Winters, hiding among them in his human form. He sat quietly judging his fellow passengers, such as the dancer Gladys Jones, middle-aged amateur detective Mildred Argot, and the disheveled and lovelorn Randy, who soon left the compartment to seek air on the gangway between their carriage and the next one. Witherspoon failed to notice Jeffrey follow and murder Randy. At the next station two new passengers, the detective Hodiah Twist and his companion Conrad Jeavons, got on, and Witherspoon scowled at them with contemptuous disdain.  

  Moments after the train moved off again Jeffrey "discovered" Randy's corpse. Everyone, including Witherspoon, piled into the next car to see what had (seemingly) distressed the boy. Having reached the body first, Twist instructed his fellow passengers that it would be best if they remained seated, prompting the uncooperative Witherspoon to demand to know who the detective thought he was that he thought he could tell them to do anything, but Twist rebutted by pointing out he worked with the police and that he would be asking the questions. A few moments later Twist stated that none of them could be allowed to leave until the murder was solved, adding that they would all disembark at the next stop to wait together for the authorities. To prevent this, Jeffrey covertly cut power to the lights, then in the darkness swiftly warped all the exit doors, trapping everyone in the carriage. Some limited light was swiftly restored to the room via candles provided by Mildred, by which time Jeffrey had returned to his human form.

   Terrified that she was about to die, Gladys bemoaned that her mother had always said she would come to no good, and Witherspoon cruelly retorted that in his estimation she had a bad beginning too, prompting her to move away from him to the end of the carriage where Twist, Jeavons and Mildred were examining the damaged doors.

 

(Marvel Preview#16 - BTS) -  With Witherspoon now momentarily isolated, the others' backs turned and darkness cloaking his actions, Jeffrey resumed his lupine form and quickly attacked Witherspoon, ripping out his tongue to keep him quiet and crushing his head, killing him. Jeffrey then hung Witherspoon's body up, using one of the hanging straps as a noose.

 

(Marvel Preview#16) - Turning to listen to Gladys' complaints, Jeavons noticed Witherspoon's absence from his seat, and as the group moved closer they discovered Witherspoon's corpse. Twist lifted Witherspoon's body down, and Argot asked to examine it, suggesting Witherspoon might have been killed by having oxygen injected into his veins, causing an air bubble that stopped his heart. When Twist pointed out Witherspoon's much more brutal and very obvious fatal injuries, an undeterred Mildred responded that this did not rule out her theory. Leaving her to examine Witherspoon's body more closely, Twist and Jeavons switched their attentions to trying to figure out exactly where in the carriage Witherspoon had been attacked, hoping that might reveal the killer's identity. Jeffrey, back once more in human form, accompanied them.

 

  A few moments later Mildred called the others' attention back to her as she rose from Witherspoon's corpse, announcing she had solved the case, and proposing that the entire carriage (barring presumably herself) had worked together to kill the colonel. With Twist and Jeavons' attention focused on Mildred,  Jeffrey seized the chance to become the wolf again, stunned the inattentive Gladys with a blow from behind, then doused the candle. With the carriage once again in darkness, Jeffrey quickly killed Mildred, then reverted to his innocent looking human appearance before Twist could restore the light. Because he didn't believe in werewolves, Twist now concluded that neither Gladys nor Jeffrey were physically capable of the murders, and so turned on Witherspoon's body. Believing Witherspoon had faked his injuries and demise, Twist moved to examine the colonel more closely in an attempt to expose his ruse, and raised his voice to the corpse, demanding the colonel stop his pretense, but before the detective discovered that the colonel really was dead, Jeffrey transformed again, this time in front of everyone, and attacked them.

Comments: Created by Don McGregor (writer, uncredited), Richard Marschall (editor, credited instead) and Gene Colan (penciller) and Tony de Zuniga (inker).

   We never see the Colonel standing up next to any other characters, so it's hard to judge his height - even when he's seen with Twist and the others most of them are crouching as they examine a corpse, so there's no way to really compare them. As such I've just ASSumed a middling, average height, since there's nothing to suggest he was exceptionally tall or short.

   It's not explicitly revealed why Witherspoon was the first of the carriage passengers to be murdered by the werewolf after Twist began his investigation, but given that Jeffrey Winters expressed some attraction towards Gladys, it's possible that the colonel's rudeness to same earned him Jeffrey's ire.

   The date of the werewolf incident isn't given in the story, but we do have some clues as to when it took place. Gladys mentions that if they die on the train they'll never know if La Guardia will get re-elected as mayor; while she could be saying this any time after he was initially elected (1933), her comment gives the impression that it's close to the time that he needs to run for office again, which happened in 1937 and 1941. Gladys, who appears to be no older than her late twenties, remembers his previous campaign, in 1933, which counts against the story taking place in 1941. Additionally, the elevated trains went into serious decline around the late 1930s, with the Sixth Avenue line closing in 1938 and other following over the next few years. So it would seem most likely that the werewolf on the El incident took place some time in 1937.

Profile by Loki, expanding on the sub-profile first written by Jean-Marc Lofficier for the Hodiah Twist entry.

CLARIFICATIONS:
Colonel Witherspoon
should not be confused with


images: (without ads)
Marvel Preview#16, p6, pan5 (main)
Marvel Preview#16, p9, pan3
(headshot)
Marvel Preview#16, p11, pan1 (standing)
Marvel Preview#16, p16, pan1 (dead)


Appearances:
Marvel Preview#16 (Fall 1978) - Don McGregor (writers), Gene Colan (pencils), Tony DeZuniga (inks), Richard E. Marschall (editor)


First Posted: 10/24/2021
Last updated: 10/24/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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