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Morbius the Living Vampire

Morbius, art by Gabriele Dell’Otto

Morbius, the Living Vampire, also known as Dr. Michael Morbius is a fictional antihero published by Marvel Comics. He first appeared as an antagonist in the Amazing Spider-Man issue #101 in October 1971, created by writer Roy Thomas and designed by Gil Kane. Following his early appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man, he continued to be a broody and bold yet noble and tragically flawed antihero in his own comic series.

In the comic series, Dr. Michael Morbius, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, had created a treatment for his unusual blood disease. Attempting an experimental treatment, he transforms into a vampire with an overwhelming bloodlust and superhuman powers. Like a genuine vampire, he needs to drink blood to survive. Nevertheless, his mind returns to normal after consuming his victim’s blood. With this, he is fraught with remorse, guilt, and self-loathing.

Morbius in Comics Books

Morbius in the comic series ‘Fear’ issue #20, art by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia

In October 1971, Morbius debuted in the comic series The Amazing Spider-Man issue #101. His appearance was after the Comics Code Authority had lifted the ban on vampires and other supernatural characters in February 1971. This was the first issue of the Spider-Man flagship series that was written by other writers other than the editor-in-chief, Stan Lee. During this time, Lee was busy with a science fiction movie, thus leave the series to Roy Thomas, his right-hand editor. According to Thomas, they talked about doing Dracula, but Lee had wanted a costumed villain, hence the birth of Morbius.

Subsequently, Morbius once again collided with Spider-Man and others in the series of Marvel Team-Up that runs from July to September 1972. He also appeared in the Giant-Size Super-Heroes issue #1, a one-shot issue released in June 1974. Aside from those appearances, Morbius also star in black and white horror comics, the Vampire Tales, published by Marvel’s sister company, the Curtis Magazines.

On his first two stories in Vampire Tales, Morbius became the star of the bi-monthly adventure in Fear anthology series that began with issue #20 in February 1974. This series continued until its end issue in issue #31, written by Mike Friedrich, Steve Gerber, along with Bill Mantlo and Doug Moench.Following his occasional appearances for over sixteen years, Morbius was revived in ‘Morbius the Living Vampire’ series. This series was released in 1992 as a part of the Rise of the Midnight Sons story arc in Marvel’s horror and supernatural comics. Morbius, the Living Vampire, has thirty-two comic issues that run from September 1992 to April 1995. During this time, a one-shot special written by Len Kaminski was tentatively titled Spider-Man/Venom/Morbius and was scheduled to release in 1993. However, the series was not finished after the writer left the series out of a dispute between the series’ penciler, Ron Wagner.

At the same time, a reprint series called ‘Morbius Revisited’ was published from 1992 to 1993 in tandem with the core series ‘Morbius the Living Vampire.’ This reprint included materials originally published in ‘Adventure into Fear issue #27 to #31. Aside from this, Morbius had appeared in solo series, including Marvel Comics Present issue #144 released in late December 1993, Midnight Sons Unlimited series from 1993 to 1995, and Strange Tales: Dark Corners #1 in May 1998. He also appeared in Amazing Fantasy Volume 2, issue #17 in March 2006, and on the one-shot called Legion of Monsters: Morbius released in September 2007. In 2012, Marvel announced that Morbius would appear in a new comic that will begin in January 2013, under the writer Joe Keatinge and artist Richard Elson.

Comics Biography

Ever since, at a young age, Michael Morbius has a rare blood disease. His mother urged him to stay inside in fear that her son would get hurt. However, his father had been absent all his life that he barely remembers his face. Despite the fact that her mother forces her to stay inside their home, Michael would sneak out to play with his friend, Emil Nikos. During one of their excursions, Michael gets seriously injured. This incident pushes Emil to promise not to let anything like that happen to Michael again.The pair goes to college and pursues science in order to find a cure for Morbius’ condition. Their research into using a vampire bat’s blood to create a cure has won a Nobel Prize. When Michael’s health worsens to the point that he breaks a finger lifting a glass, the reward money does help drive the next step of the experimentation’s cycle. For the sake of security, he sets sail with Emil and his fiancée Martine Bancroft in order to conduct the next leg of his research on the ocean.

Feeling that death was inevitable, Michael rushes the experiment and generate new blood cells through electricity while wearing a high collar insulated suit that would turn into his signature look. The treatment transforms Morbius into a live vampire. However, Morbius attacks and kills Nikos. In order to protect Martine, he dives into the sea and swims until he is picked up by a fishing vessel heading to New York City.

Superpowers and Abilities

Morbius’ face transforms into a more bat-like feature in his vampiric state. His bones also have become partly hollow, allowing him to battle wind currents as if he were soaring. The new form also gives him heightened senses and heightened stamina, speed, strength, and durability. Unfortunately, all these superhuman abilities come about because he has to feed on a living person’s blood. While he holds several typical vampire abilities, self-regeneration, mild hypnotic powers, and gliding on air, he does not have the same vulnerabilities against the sun, religious artifacts, and garlic.

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