Every day this week a new supernatural character from the Marvel Universe gets the spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!
Though super heroes take center stage in the Marvel Universe, the darker corners house some of the creepiest monsters around. Morbius the Living Vampire remains one of the more complicated ghouls of the bunch.
A scientist-turned-blood sucker, the character made his first appearance with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #101 in October of 1971 thanks to writer Roy Thompson and artist Gil Kane. Appropriately, the issue included a variety of classic horror references including a general mad scientist vibe and specific mentions of Frankenstein, Dracula and Alfred Hitchcock.
Morbius first popped up as a scared, strange looking man traveling on a ship suspected of killing the captain halfway through the issue. He avoided the angry mob until night set in along with his vampiric powers and then spent the entire eve quenching his thirst on every last one of them.
Feeling guilty, Morbius dove into the ocean and wound up sleeping through the day in Dr. Curt Connors’ house in the Hamptons. It just so happened that Spider-Man—sporting six arms thanks to a potion he took in issue #100 intended to cure him of his powers—had holed up in the same spot in an effort to cure himself.
As night fell, Morbius stumbled down the stairs, set eyes on the Wall Crawler and attacked, looking to satiate his monstrous hunger. Luckily for Spidey, Dr. Connors appeared just in time to save him from becoming a snack—but the stress of the situation turned him into The Lizard!
The knock-down, drag-out fight continued into AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #102 as the Web Head watched the two monsters—both out for his blood—fight fang and tail. After knocking out the Lizard, Morbius planned to drink his cold blood before Spider-Man finally stepped in. Instead of wasting the night fighting or explaining himself, Morbius flew off, searching for less combative sources of sustenance.
Back at the house, Connors discovered that the bite from Morbius contained a kind of enzyme that altered his transformation process, leaving his mind in the body of the Lizard. Thinking it might have a similar effect on Spidey’s limb situation they developed a serum and went hunting for Morbius—or more specifically, his blood.
While resting again, Morbius reflected on how he came to be a Living Vampire. A Nobel Prize-winning European scientist, Michael Morbius experimented on vampire bats in order to cure his blood disease while at sea with his assistant Nikos and girlfriend Martine. In classic monster movie fashion, the experiment went awry, turning the sick scientist into a modern vampire in the process. After killing Nikos, Morbius jumped ship before hurting the love of his life.
Morbius’ buffet ran into a brick wall when Spidey and Lizard showed up looking to stop his rampage and also get some of that precious enzyme. Connors took his first and quickly reverted back to his normal form, but Morbius escaped with the concoction in an attempt to cure himself. The Wall Crawler gave chase which lead them both towards the river. Thanks to a webbing mishap, Morbius fell in the water and Spidey had just enough for one last thwip. He aimed for the man, but got the serum instead. With Morbius seemingly lost to the sea, Connors administered the serum to the Web Head who returned to a more manageable number of appendages.
Not nearly as dead as advertised, Morbius went on to appear in the black and white magazine VAMPIRE TALES and star in ADVENTURES INTO FEAR from issues #20 through to that book’s completion with #31. He gained his first solo series, MORBIUS, in 1992 as part of the Ghost Rider-centric Midnight Sons group. That series ended in 1995, eventually followed by another in 2013 penned by Joe Keatinge.
FRIGHT FACT: That classic costume that has become Morbius’ signature look with the high collar and low cut front actually served a purpose. During an electroshock experiment on the boat, it acted as an insulation suit between his skin and the larger suit worn on top!
Come back tomorrow for another Halloween Spooklight on Dracula!