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CSBG Archive

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!)

10/31/07

304. Morbius, the Living Vampire

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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.

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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.

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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!

For more on the Living Vampire, check out Marvel or the Wiki.

Boo.

9 Comments

As soon as I saw morbious i staretd thinking about the way JRJR drew him in PP:SM (which is when I first started reading comics), and then you put up one of those covers. awesome.

I Like Morbious, but he benefits from quick and brief appearances.

Thematically Michael should be one of the larger elements in a classic Spider-book, but never was (That’s as opposed to a current spider-book, which like all Marvels is about being a two-fisted four-color Animal Farm).

Incidentally, couldn’t Morbius register with the initiative and do that whole “allowed to suck blood of the evil” thing? How do you resist building a clumsy, hamfisted Guantanamo prisoner allegory around him in the Initiative or Thunderbolts? I can almost hear the cardboard being cut out for the characters responsible, and the straw men being stuffed for the Newsarama interviews.

“Ahh see here’s your problem, the switch was set to ‘cynical’.”

As far as I know, this is a first. The cover of Legion Of Monsters: Morbius” is a cover swipe from a role playing adventure. The 1st edition AD&D module “Ravenloft” had the image layout back in the mid-80’s.

“Incidentally, couldn’t Morbius register with the initiative and do that whole “allowed to suck blood of the evil” thing?”

I think he did register, and was used as bait to capture Blade a few issues back.

I don’t think the LoM cover is close enough to the Ravenloft cover to qualify as a swipe–the original Ravenloft module had Strahd on a balcony without the unconscious woman (they’re both in a three-quarters view seen from the right, but that’s not particularly noteworthy by itself), and the classic image of him holding an unconscious woman (which I found through Google image search but couldn’t pinpoint to a specific product) is posed very differently. (Complicated by the fact that there’s really only one stable way to hold a limp body in your arms, which is why there are so many covers that look like the cover of Crisis #7.) In any case, both images seem to be drawing on the classic image tropes of Gothic horror rather than anything specific. Unless you’re thinking of another image that I didn’t find on Google?

I was actually going from memory with the Ravenloft swipe. I could EASILY have the image swapped with the one you found.

Fair enough. It’s certainly a very familiar style of image (which I’m sure is what they were going for), if somewhat dated.

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