365 Reasons to Love Comics #304
Fear not, I’m still alive. No, I did not get kidnapped by ninjas. Monday’s post is now up, though. It’s longer than a usual column, and has twice the passion! Don’t neglect to read it.
So it’s Halloween. I guess I should do something suitably spooky. Hmm… what would be a good topic to sink my teeth into…? Aha! (Aharchive!)
304. Morbius, the Living Vampire
I’ve always dug Morbius, ’cause, well, vampires are cool, but also because he’s been a fairly well-written character. Roy Thomas and Gil Kane introduced him in Amazing Spider-Man #101, seen above. The reason Morbius worked in context with the Spidey universe was because he’s not a supernatural creature, but another example of science gone wrong– yes, he’s a sci-fi vampire!
Michael Morbius was not a villain, per se, but a poor guy caught in extremely odd circumstances. He’s a tragic figure, really– a scientist who tried to cure his own rare blood disease, only to transform himself into a vampiric creature of the night. And then, you know, one thing led to another and he ended up fighting a six-armed Spider-Man. These things happen.
Despite the fact that he remains an on-again off-again Spidey rogue, Morbius has headlined his own comic twice (not counting a reprint series!). The first time occurred in the mid-’70s in the pages of Adventure into Fear. Despite starring in only eleven or so issues, at least four different writers worked on his fearsome adventures– cool dudes like Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, and your favorite and mine, Bill Mantlo! The art was from guys like Paul Gulacy, P. Craig Russell, Gil Kane, and Frank Robbins. Nice. Moench also worked on some Morbius stories in the black and white magazine Vampire Tales, which enabled, you know, some mature themes and some of the ol’ ultraviolence. Don McGregor wrote a bunch of stories for that series as well.
The second series Morbius starred in was his own, back during the early 90s when every hard-edged character got their own series. This title was part of the Midnight Sons line that included stuff like Ghost Rider and whatever else. I’ve got a good handful of issues, and I happen to like ‘em– your mileage may vary. Len Kaminski wrote a number of issues, and I always liked his work– Gregory Wright took over writing duties at some point as well. It wasn’t the best series ever, but it was pretty fun, casting Morbius as an anti-hero who only sucked the blood of criminals. He even had a secret identity– Dr. Morgan Michaels– obtained when he took a serum that turned him back into a human for a limited period of time.
Since then, Morbius has popped up now and again, fighting Spidey or Blade or somebody. He’s even been Ultimatized, and
traced drawn by Greg Land. And hey, he was on the Spidey cartoon, too! Un-life is good.
Morbius has a cool concept– sometimes good, sometimes evil sci-fi vampire with weird fashion sense– and that’s good enough for me. Luckily, he hasn’t been horribly overused. There are plenty of stories left in ol’ Morby, and I hope we get to see ‘em. How about you? Is Morbius cool? Is he as cool as Morbo? Okay, okay, I know. No one’s as cool as Morbo. But is Morbius at least cooler than Dr. Morbius from Forbidden Planet? U-Decide!