Super Mates 88: House of Franklin-Stein Part 2

Howl at the House of Franklin-Stein! The Super Mates discuss 1994’s Wolf, starring Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and James Spader. Is it a monster movie, or an examination of one man’s mid-life crisis in the corporate world? Or is it both?

Then, Batman has a return bout with Anthony Lupus under the “Werewolf Moon” by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Dan Adkins, from Detective Comics #505.

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Clip credits:

Wolf (1994) directed by Mike Nichols, music by Ennio Moricone

“The House of Franklinstein” by Terry O’Malley

“Batman, Wolfman, Frankenstein and Dracula” by The Diamonds

Music from Batman: The Animated Series by Shirley Walker

“Little Red Riding Hood” by The Meteors

23 responses to “Super Mates 88: House of Franklin-Stein Part 2

  1. Weirdly, the main thing I remember about that Detective issue is Batman telling himself the joke “Why did the farmer hit the mule with the board. To get its attention” in a thought balloon in the middle of the fight.

    Honesty time…I think you guys on the network like Gerry Conway’s writing a lot more than I do. I always thought Conway had his heroes, no matter who he was writing, get too emotional and fly of the handle. Batman losing his cool and lashing out at Reeves is a prime example. While not as bad as Miller’s (Spawn vs Batman and All-Star Batman) and Starlin’s psycho nut job Batman that couldn’t control himself at all, I think a Batman who would lose his bearings enough to strike out at Reeves would get himself killed. Wasn’t it more fun when Batman just said “Boo” to Reeves and caused him to leave the room screaming in the O’Neil/Adams Two-Face story?

    1. I can see your point Gothos. I just dismissed that aspect of the story as an ongoing plot thread we weren’t too interested in here. But yes, Batman lashing out in public was a bit much, especially for the time. It was a means to an end to fuel Conway’s political side-plot, where the city government turns on Batman.


      1. I hope I didn’t come across as a Negative Ned. The main Batman loses his cool moment that really stuck in my head was during the Killer Croc arc. Dick voices his concerns at having the Todds do some under cover work and Bruce really tears Dick a new one. When the Todds were killed, that made it worse. Of course, there was also the time in Superman vs Spider-Man when Superman barely stopped himself from losing his temper and punching Spider-Man’s head off. If anyone needs to control the ol temper, it’s Superman.

        Well that is enough negativity for now. My favorite Gerry Conway Batman issue was #339.

        I may not comment when you guys get to Batman 414 on Knightcast….There are very few comics I hate as much as that one. I promise, I do try to be positive!

        1. I think Batman #339 was the first time I ever encountered Poison Ivy.

          And I don’t think you’re being overly negative. You like what you like. I know not everyone is going to like the movies, comics, or TV shows we discuss, but as long as we’re engaging the listeners, and no one gets personally nasty, I think we’re all good.

          I had to look up the synopsis to Batman #414. NOW I remember it. I can understand why you dislike that one, based on your issues with heroes losing it.


          1. Strangely, the first time I encountered Ivy was in the Super Friends Golden Book “Revenge of the Super Foes.” I thought it was odd that she was referred to as a Batman villain and I had never heard of her. Then I got a Justice League with her that Batman wasn’t in. That one was written by Conway, too. Since he wrote the Wonder Woman World’s Finest stories with Ivy, I think Conway must be very fond of her. I really credit him with keeping her visible before she became a star on the animated series. Thanks, Gerry!

  2. At about 31 minutes into the film, Jack is (I think) supposed to be loping animalistically toward Spader’s building, but he’s totally walking like Groucho Marx. And from doing some searching online, I am learning that the “Groucho walk” is apparently a thing in low-impact fitness. Which is awesome. Thanks, Super Mates! If I take away nothing else from this movie, now I’ve concluded I have to regularly get out and Groucho-walk for cardio.

  3. I saw WOLF in the theater at the time, I don’t remember thinking much of it but your synopsis makes it sound better than I remember. Of course, this isn’t Mike Nichols first lycanthrope movie; as you mentioned, he directed WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLF? (#Anj)

    That issue of DETECTIVE looks awesome! Newton is the best of course, but that ending is just superb. Great pick.

    Fun as always you guys!

    1. I liked WOLF in the theater, but I honestly get much more out of it now. I was in college then, and the corporate world hadn’t beaten me up any at that point. It’s easy to relate to Will’s plight… minus the lycanthropy, of course!

      I was very impressed with the Detective issue. I need to go and re-read the early Conway issues, some of which I’m missing. I could read a TPB of Newton’s Batman reading the phonebook!


  4. Great episode, you two. I remember Wolf very clearly as that point in my life where I really started getting into movies. I was now choosing movies to see by myself as opposed to having my mom or dad having to take me. Having collected a lot of the Universal Monsters Classic Collection VHS tapes (“They’re to die for.”), I remember really wanting to go see Wolf. It had Joker and Catwoman? Sign me up! But the reviews came out and I remember them being not kind to Wolf. The reviewers gushed over Bram Stoker’s Dracula a couple years prior but then pooped all over Wolf. Wasn’t there also a Frankenstein movie with DeNiro that no one liked either? I’m too lazy to internet.
    Anyways, It was one of the first times in my life where I let the reviews colour my view of a movie and I never went to see it, assuming it to be bad. But after hearing you both discuss it, it really makes me want to see it again, so well done! I’ll put it on the list with the Haunted Palace!
    Keep up the great work!

    1. Yes, there is “Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein”, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh in the title role, with DeNiro as the monster. I have only seen that one once, because it just didn’t grab me, and I felt a lot of it was just …off, particularly DeNiro’s casting and appearance. I need to give it another shot at some point, though.

      In the comments section of the previous episode, Jack Bohn let us know that The Haunted Palace is playing on TCM on Halloween night! So there’s at least one way to catch it.


  5. Superb, as always! I have to say, I enjoyed this podcast a lot more than i did the actual movie, but you have also piqued my interest enough to make me want to see it again. And well done for pointing out the parallels with Raimi’s Spider-Man – I can’t see it any other way, now. Does Peter Parker suffer from ‘Spide-canthropy’ in some parallel Spiderverse? (Actually, that’s probably already been done – it seems everything else has!)

    1. Alistair, J. Michael Stracynski did some revisionist origin implants on Spidey, making his origin supernatural based. It’s better left forgotten, like most of his run, in my opinion.

      But thanks for listening! And I’m glad we piqued your interest enough to give Wolf another chance!


      1. I KNEW someone would have already done it! Being a huge Babylon 5 and Sense 8 fan I think Straczynski is an absolute genius, but I’ve often heard that some of his comic work is much less so…

        1. I think JMS’ comic work suffers from a lot of the same things many writers popular outside of comics bring to the medium. Their clout gives them a certain weight to come in and say “everything you know is WRONG!” when usually that’s not what long-time fans want. See Brad Meltzer’s “Identity Crisis”. I don’t think the blame can be laid solely at these writers’ feet. Editors and upper management seem to encourage them to do what they will with the properties they should be shepherding and protecting.

  6. Great episode, as always!

    I saw WOLF in the theater with really high expectations. For one thing, Jack Nicholson was my favorite actor at the time, still riding high from his performance as the Joker in BATMAN five years earlier. For another thing, it costarred Michelle Pfeiffer, who was definitely one of my Hollywood crushes at the time, due in large part to her performance as Catwoman in BATMAN RETURNS two years prior. For yet another thing, it costarred Richard Jenkins, who hailed from my hometown of DeKalb, Illinois, and who appeared with both Nicholson and Pfeiffer previously in THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK making WOLF a reunion for the trio. And for still another thing, I adored BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, but I always liked werewolves more than vampires, so I figured this cast and this subject matter were the proper ingredients for an all-time great film.

    And I left the theater disappointed, not because I thought it was bad, but it certainly wasn’t the movie I was expected. I was a young-ish teenager at the time expecting a spiritual successor to Francis Ford Coppola’s DRACULA. Instead I got a movie that was just–how did I describe it at the time? “That was a very adult movie.” The subject matter wasn’t too explicit; it was just… adult. It was a guy dealing with middle-age, infidelity, betrayal by a friend and betrayal at work, the inner corporate machinations of a book publisher, revenge schemes that revolved around, well, the inner corporate machinations of a book publisher. All this with the central element of werewolf-ism as a metaphor for mid-life crisis. Yeah, I can’t imagine why 13 year old me was like, “Eeehhhh…”

    I revisited the movie ten years later and enjoyed it a whole lot more, though I still think it’s only a good movie, not great. All the essential elements are there, but something keeps it from achieving highest honors. I don’t think Mike Nichols brought enough blood or passion to the movie, and I’m not talking about ramping up the gore factor.

    I will note, however, that I really do love the scene with Dr. Alezais. I remember when he said, “Sometimes one does not need to be bitten; merely the passion of the Wolf is enough.” And then when Michelle Pfeiffer started to show the signs at the end, I was like, “Oh right, now she’s a werewolf because they slept together,” and then I thought, “Holy crap, does that make lycanthropy a sexually transmitted disease?!!”

    1. I can’t believe I forgot to mention The Witches of Eastwick at any point in this episode. That’s what happens when you get lost in the weeds of minutia: the obvious stuff falls by the wayside! But the fact that Jack had played the devil, in a movie with Pfeiffer (and Richard Jenkins, who I honestly forgot was in it), should have come up at some point!

      Lycanthropy as an STD is an interesting angle, but yeah, Will’s “passions” apparently changed Laura, which we also didn’t spell out in our discussion. But here’s something to ponder…if Charlotte hadn’t been killed, would have the “passions” of either Will or Stewart changed her? Or did she not have the “spirit” of the wolf? She certainly had a sexual appetite she didn’t mind feeding elsewhere, so I would think so!


      1. I’ve never seen “Wolf” and when I heard Nicholson’s voice in the trailer I automatically thought it was from “Witches of Eastwick!”

  7. Impressive pod cast. Most impressive. Hmm, again a movie I haven’t seen yet. Still heard about it sounded cool. And an impressive cast. I may have to rent it latter. The Bat comic sounds fun too. Did I mention I have a U tube page? The 70s Bats is my fav Bats. e can be grim gitty and tough with out being Bat Gwad. They seem to forget when the hero is in danger it bill a point ware you care. Then when he wins it gets a better reaction. Steven Seaguling your way threw an action seen gets dull after a while. No one likes a Mary Sue. Ah well back then Bats was a lot better back in the day. But, it is what it is. The 70s threw 90s was kind of my fav time in Bats comics.

    I even had a subscription to the comics in the 80s. They were fun and to a child the mysteries worked. Can’t wait to hear the next pod cast.

    1. I think the 70s/early 80s were my Batman jam too. Well, for me, ultimately, they are my jam in comics PERIOD. I think super hero comics had evolved enough to really become “all ages” entertainment. Fun for the kids, but deep enough for an adult to enjoy also. Before all the “mature” themes settled in to where you can’t hand a kid most modern comics.

      Old man rant over! Thanks for listening as always!

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