JEFFREY WINTERS

Real Name: Jeffrey Winters

Identity/Class: Human werewolf (1930s era)

Occupation: School child

Group Membership: None

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Mildred Argot, Conrad Jeavons, Gladys Jones, Randy, Hodiah Twist, Colonel Witherspoon

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Manhattan

 First Appearance: Marvel Preview#16 (Fall 1978)

Powers/Abilities: As a human, Jeffrey was a seemingly normal fourteen year old body with no skills or abilities that stood out (other than being a lycanthrope). As a werewolf, the boy possessed the typical powers associated with werewolves: superhuman speed and strength (from enhanced to superhuman levels), invulnerability to ordinary weapons or injury including decapitation, being only vulnerable to silver. He changed during nights of the full moon, but was not a wolf full time during this period, instead changing back and forth; whether he had any control over the ability or her lupine form remains unrevealed (see comments)

Height: (human) 4'8"; (werewolf) 6' (both by approximation)
Weight: (human) 80 lbs.; (werewolf) 180 lbs. (both by approximation)
Eyes: Unrevealed
Hair: Unrevealed - appeared to be a lighter color

 History:
(Marvel Preview#16 (fb) - BTS) - Born circa 1923, by 1937 (see comments) fourteen year old Jeffrey Winters was going through some changes, gaining an interest in girls and starting to grow hair in unusual places...such as all over his body on nights of the full moon when he transformed into a werewolf! It remains unrevealed how he became a lycanthrope (see comments), whether through being bitten by one or having somehow inherited the curse. To sake his lupine blood lust, for several months on nights of the full moon he stalked Manhattan's elevated trains, never striking on the same El twice.

   Despite his murderous past time, Jeffrey was otherwise like many young boys, intrigued by stories of heroes such as Doc Savage, the Shadow and Hopalong Cassidy (see comments).

(Marvel Preview#16) - On the night of the latest full moon Jeffrey headed to 8th Avenue El, the last train he had yet to strike on, and, in his wolf form, watched a man, Randy, stumble up the steps to the platform lost in thoughts. Once on the platform Randy and some other waiting passengers boarded the next train to arrive.

(Marvel Preview#16 - BTS) - In human form Jeffrey entered the next carriage, which proved to be empty.

(Marvel Preview#16) - Deciding he needed air and solitude, Randy stepped out onto the gangway between the carriages, but this sudden isolation left him vulnerable. With no witnesses now to catch him in the act, Jeffrey now attacked, plunging his hairy arm plunged through the window in the next carriage's door to grab the unfortunate Randy by the throat, pick him bodily up, and smash his head hard against the side of the train, killing him almost instantly.

(Marvel Preview#16 - BTS) - Jeffrey left Randy's body in the empty carriage, making no effort to hide it beyond its isolated location. Returning to human form, Jeffrey moved into the carriage Randy had come from, and joined the passengers there, who included the middle-aged amateur detective Mildred Argot, curmudgeonly retired soldier Colonel Witherspoon, and the beautiful dancer Gladys Jones, who immediately stirred the romantically inexperienced teen's emotions.

(Marvel Preview#16) - A short while later the detective Hodiah Twist boarded the train, there because he had deduced the pattern of the recent slayings. Coincidentally entering the same carriage as Jeffrey, Twist's distinctively Sherlockian garb immediately enchanted the hero-loving boy. Whether because he wanted to see the detective in action, or to lure him to somewhere more isolated upon hearing him mentioning he was hunting the killer, Jeffrey rose from his seat apparently on a whim and entered the adjacent carriage, then recoiled in visible (but possibly feigned) shock at seeing Randy's corpse, thus drawing Twist's attention to the murdered man. The detective and all the other passengers of that carriage came into the other car to see what had occurred. Having reached the body first, Twist instructed his fellow passengers that it would be best if they remained seated, and Jeffrey inquired whether Twist was a hero like Doc Savage or the Shadow, prompting Twist to reply he was not familiar with either. Twist informed his fellow passengers 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 ran from one end of the car to the other in wolf form, slipping past Twist in the dark and using his immense lupine strength to bend all the exit doors, trapping everyone in the carriage. Some limited light was soon 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 Argot 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. He also took a swipe at Twist's head, who had his back to the carriage while examining the door, but missed because the train suddenly lunged forward, causing Twist to stumble and duck at the crucial moment. Before anyone could spot him in the dim light, Jeffrey returned to human.  

(Marvel Preview#16) - Jeavons noticed Witherspoon's absence from his seat, and as the group moved closer they discovered Witherspoon's corpse. Jeffrey watched with interest as Twist lifted Witherspoon's body down and examined it. Leaving Mildred continuing examining the corpse to make her own deductions, 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. As they moved from the corpse, Twist put an avuncular arm on Jeffrey's shoulder and ushered him along with them, asking the boy his name. Answering the question, Jeffrey added that current events weren't like the Saturday matinees, noting that when people were killed in the monster or cowboy movies it was never this bloody. Seeking to drew the boy's mind away from such lurid things, Twist tried to make conversation by asking Jeffrey what he wanted to be when he grew up, suggesting either a train engineer or a cowboy-hero? Jeffrey admitted he didn't really understand much that was happening to him lately, adding that when he was near ladies like Gladys he started feeling strange. Laughing at the thought that the boy was naturally confused about puberty and beginning to notice girls, Twist advised the lad that what he was experiencing was quite natural.   

  Their discussion was interrupted as Mildred called the others' attention back to her, announcing she had solved the case, and proposing that the entire carriage (barring presumably herself) had worked together to kill the colonel. Seizing this new opportunity provided by Twist and Jeavons now being focused on Mildred, Jeffrey became 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, throwing her fatally into one of the windows, then reverted to his innocent looking human appearance before Twist could restore the light. Noticing that neither Gladys nor Jeffrey had audibly reacted to the incident from their end of the carriage, Twist and Jeavons hurried to check on their safety, and found Gladys just waking up, with her head on Jeffrey's lap.

   Because he didn't believe in werewolves, Twist now concluded that neither Gladys nor Jeffrey were physically capable of the murders, and so concluded that Witherspoon must have faked his own demise; as such, Twist and Jeavons moved over to where Witherspoon's body lay. Meanwhile a distressed Gladys moved off Jeffrey's lap and began waxing philosophically about her life and how everything was dying, unaware as she talked towards Jeavons and Twist that behind her Jeffrey was staring intently at her and beginning to look distressed. As the boy clutched his head, Gladys suddenly realized something was wrong, and tugged at Jeavons sleeve so that he too turned. Together the pair witnessed Jeffrey's transformation; focused on Witherspoon, Twist missed the change but was swiftly alerted to the werewolf's presence by Jeavons. The creature advanced menacingly on the terrified Gladys, seemingly having forgotten about the others, but Twist leapt between Jeffrey and his prey, then blew burning ash from his pipe into the werewolf's eyes.

   Roaring in agony, the werewolf instinctively sought to reach cool open air, ripped through the carriage roof and leapt out onto the top of the train, ignoring Twist's cries as he appealed to Jeffrey to fight his curse. Ignoring Jeavons' pleas to let Jeffrey go and leave him for the police to deal with, Twist pursued, insistent that he had to try and save the boy, rather than let him continue to suffer under his lunar affliction. Jeffrey ran along the top of the racing train, and when Hodiah called to him the werewolf turned to face him, thus failing to notice a bridge the train was fast approaching. One of the low beams caught the werewolf, instantly decapitating him, but despite this the now headless monster continued moving, stumbling towards Twist with arms flailing like it was seeking fresh prey. Reaching Twist, it bore him to the ground and its talons began ripping through the soft flesh under his jaw even as the detective fought futilely to push it away. Racing to his friend's rescue with a silver dagger pendant formerly worn by Mildred Argot, Jeavons stabbed Jeffrey. Finally slain, the werewolf''s limp body fell from the speeding train.

Comments: Created by Tony Isabella (writer) and Gene Colan (penciller) and Dan Adkins (inker).

   It was hinted in the story that it was Jeffrey's incoming puberty that had brought the change into a werewolf. - Jean-Marc Lofficier

   Regarding both Jeffrey's year of birth and when the events of the story take place - the date 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, and recalls that the repeal of prohibition (in December 1933) temporarily put her out of work, 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.

   Did the human Jeffrey know what he was doing as the werewolf, and was just playing innocent? Twist seemed to at least want to believe this was true, as he tried to appeal to the boy once he turned, but I don't think it's quite as clear cut as that. During the transformation that others witnessed, Jeffrey is described in such as way as to suggest that he doesn't want to change - he has "wild terror eyes" and "pleading fingers." Once turned, the werewolf advances on Gladys with "little remembrance of anything else" which gives the impression that the werewolf is of more limited intellect than its human form. However, we also have evidence that the werewolf is able to understand what is happening better than a mere animal, is aware of events happening when Jeffrey is in his human form, and has a reasonable degree of control over both the transformations and what it does while transformed. Jeffrey doesn't remain stuck in wolf form during the full moon like many werewolves - he changes back and forth, and does so at the times best suited to target vulnerable prey. Unless his transformations magically include his clothing, he's got to be undressing before turning lupine, as he's always wearing undamaged clothing within seconds of becoming Jeffrey again; given how much bigger his wolf form is, he should be shredding any clothing he wears through the metamorphosis. He doesn't run around randomly attacking whoever crosses his path - he picks and chooses targets and takes time stalking them. Jeffrey doesn't seem confused to find himself on the El train, despite us seeing from a werewolf shadow that he stalked Randy from the street up onto the train - he had to assume human form to ascend to the platform and board unnoticed. A human who doesn't know he is a werewolf tends to be confused when they resume human form, but Jeffrey isn't. Once on the train he first becomes the wolf when Randy moves away from witnesses; it's Jeffrey who "accidentally" discovers Randy's corpse but only after the detective Twist boards while mentioning he is hunting the El killer within Randy's earshot, and this lures Twist and others into an otherwise empty compartment, where they can be picked off. Twist mentions that the killer has striking aboard different El trains for months, and we learn that he has deduced that this current train will be the next one targeted specifically because it is the only one that had not yet had any attacks on it - that's a pattern chosen by a human-minded killer, not an animal.

   Then there are the order of events in the carriage, as Jeffrey changes back and forth. The first time he does so immediately after Twist has said he will make them all disembark together to await the police; in response the wolf puts out the lights (which I assume he would have had to do as Jeffrey, since if he transformed before dousing the illumination he would have been seen changing) and breaks the doors so no one can exit, leaving alone vulnerable targets as he moves past them in the dark from one end of the carriage to the other. A purely animalistic killer would have just attacked some of them. His next victim is Colonel Witherspoon, who had just been rude to Gladys, a woman Jeffrey admits being attracted to; the wolf doesn't tear into him as a beast might, but instead rips out his tongue (presumably to keep him quiet) and crushes his skull, then hangs him up on display, closer to a human trophy hunter than an unintelligent beast. Jeffrey also takes a swipe at Twist which the detective fails to notice, but doesn't follow through when it misses, seemingly unwilling to press his luck. After Mildred claimed to have solved the mystery (she hadn't), she's the next to die, and the wolf makes a point of knocking Gladys out without really harming her and dousing the candles before slaying Ms. Argot. When Twist and Jeavons check on Jeffrey and Gladys, he sitting with her head on his lap.

   If Jeffrey wasn't aware of his condition and in control of his wolf form, he was at minimum under his alter ego's influence, with it directing him to board the train and choosing when to change. But I think he probably did know what he was doing, more or less, and while he might not have been always able to prevent the metamorphosis, I think he had a fair degree of control while in his hairy form, BUT crucially not total control, as he was still new to changing. It's unquestionable that the teenage boy developed a very quick crush on the pretty Gladys, so he was trying to avoid killing her (or at least, leaving her to last). The final transformation was done when he was almost certain to be exposed - even if Twist didn't believe in werewolves, Jeavons was willing to, and with only Gladys or Jeffrey remaining as suspects, the jig would have been up the moment Twist confirmed the colonel really was dead. I think between his attraction to Gladys and his genuine hero worshiping of Twist, Jeffrey didn't really want to have to kill them, but the instinct for self-preservation had triggered the transformation, hence why he was fighting it this time. I don't think Jeffrey was evil, and I do think he was clearly conflicted by the end, but I also suspect he knew of his condition and that he needed to "feed the beast" on the full moons in order to otherwise maintain control.

   It's not mentioned how long Jeffrey was killing people for, but we're told the El train that Twist found him on was the last one yet to suffer one of his attacks, so if anyone knows how many routes the Manhattan El train had in the late 1930s we could probably pinpoint exactly how many months Jeffrey had been active.

   Jeffrey asks Twist if he is a hero, like "Doc Savage or The Shadow" and Twist responds, "I'm not familiar with either of those gentlemen." Later when Jeffrey mentions Hopalong Cassidy, Twists reacts in the same fashion. Again, there is an ambiguity: is Jeffrey referring to "real" heroes or "fictional characters"? Certainly Doc Savage did exist in the Marvel Universe, and there has been several Doc Savage / The Shadow crossovers...

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

 CLARIFICATIONS:
Jeffrey Winters should not be confused with


images: (without ads)
Marvel Preview#16, p23, pan5 (main, werewolf form)
Marvel Preview#16, p17, pan5 (human headshot)
Marvel Preview#16, p22, pan3 (transforming)
Marvel Preview#16, p24, pan2-3 (ash in eye)
Marvel Preview#16, p26, pan1 (decapitated)
Marvel Preview#16, p26, pan4 (headless body)
Marvel Preview#16, p27, pan2-3 (death) 


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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