Morbius


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Morbius

(pop culture)

Morbius, a Marvel Comics vampire character introduced in 1971, was the first original vampire introduced after revision of the Comics Code allowed vampires once again to appear in comic books, from which they had been banished in 1954. Michael Morbius, according to the story, was an outstanding biologist whose work had won him the Nobel Prize. He was engaged to be married. However, he had contracted a rare blood disease. As his condition worsened, he began to work on a cure. He developed a serum from vampire bat blood and treated himself with electric shock. His efforts finally stopped the effects of the disease, but he experienced unwanted side effects; he grew fangs and developed an intense thirst for blood, which led to him vampirizing his best friend. He also developed some superpowers, including the standard heightened strength and flying ability because his bones became hollow.

Morbius was introduced in issue No. 101 of Amazing Spider-Man (1971) and his encounter with Spider-Man launched a series of battles with various Marvel superheroes. He was able to survive battles against the Bestial Lizard and the Human Torch and then took on the X-Team in the pages of Marvel Team-Up (No. 3 and No. 4). In Marvel Team-Up, after defeating Iceman and the Avenging Angel, he was bested by Cyclops. In the X-Men laboratory he was treated by the X-Team scientist Professor X, but the experimental enzyme merely confirmed Morbius’s status as the Living Vampire.

Morbius quickly escaped to begin his many adventures, in most of which he fought villains more evil than himself while searching for ways to meet his need for blood without killing the innocent. Periodically he turned his attention to finding a cure for his condition.

In 1973 Morbius was established in the new Marvel magazine-size Vampire Tales, the first issue of which appeared in the fall. Then in February 1974, in issue No. 19, Morbius became the featured character of Fear, and for the next few years the Morbius stories appeared simultaneously in the two comics. Vampire Tales lasted eleven issues through June 1975, and Fear concluded its Morbius story with issue No. 31 in December 1975 with Morbius flying off to possible future adventures.

In 1976 his adventures resumed. He appeared in issue No. 15 of Marvel Two-in-One to fight The Thing. He squared off against Blade the Vampire Slayer in issue No. 8 of Marvel Preview. In 1980, in issue No. 38 of the Spectacular Spider-Man, Morbius was finally cured. He had drunk some of Spider-Man’s radioactive blood and was then struck by lightning, which drained him of his vampiric powers. He later devised a serum that returned him to a normal human life. He was brought to trial for his multiple murders, but acquitted when judged insane. It seemed the end of the story, and Morbius faded into oblivion during the 1980s, especially after Marvel killed off all its vampires in December 1983.

After many years’ absence, Morbius made a dramatic reappearance in November 1989 in issue No. 10 of Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme. Issue No. 14 in February 1990 revealed the events of Morbius’s missing years. After living normally for several years, he had gone on a vacation to New Orleans.

One evening he met a beautiful woman named Marie and went home with her. He discovered that she was actually Marie Laveau, who had kept herself young with the blood of vampires. Since there were no more true vampires, she was aging again. She treated him with an intense but less than fatal electric shock, causing him to again become a vampire. He went on to battle Dr. Strange, who had accidently become the instrument allowing vampires to return to the real world.

In September 1992, with vampires returning and supernatural evil on the rise, those characters most capable of interacting with the supernatural were brought together in a new realm of the Marvel Universe. Those who were to oppose the supernatural were designated the Midnight Sons. They included old Marvel heroes such as Ghost Rider and Blade the Vampire Slayer. Morbius joined the Midnight Sons with the first issue of his own comic book, Morbius, the Living Vampire. The initial adventure of Morbius and the other Midnight Sons set them against a union of evil entities led by Lilith, Queen of Evil and Mother of Demons. Their conflicts late in 1993 led to the demise of the Darkhold and The Nightstalkers, but Morbius continued his life on the edge of the world of good and evil, a reluctant vampire with a conscience and a bloodthirst. In his most recent adventures, he has fought a new round in his continuing struggle with Spider-Man (1997).

In the new century, Morbius has made relatively few appearances in Marvel Comics, engaging in a time of wandering in search of a cure for his condition. To this end, at one point, he sought out a scientist, Dr. Andrea Jansen, only to discover that she had joined the international conspiratorial organization known as Hydra, and aligned with the villainous Crown. Morbius was taken prisoner and experimented upon. Later freed by Blade and Spider-Man, in his blood lust, he bit Blade before fleeing.

A very different re-imagined version of Morbius appeared in Ultimate Spider-Man No. 95 (2006). The new Morbius was a real vampire who origins reached back to the brother of Dracula. Struggling against his vampire nature, the Ultimate Morbius became a vampire slayer, though because he is also a vampire his motives are immediately called into question whenever he appears. Such is the case with his first meeting with Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe. Vampires are attacking a young man, and it is not clear on whose side Morbius is fighting.

Sources:

Benton, Mike. Horror Comics: The Illustrated History. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1991. 144 pp.

Fear. Nos. 20–31. New York: Marvel Comics, 1973–1974.

Ghost Rider and the Midnight Sons Magazine. No. 1. New York: Marvel Comics, 1993.

Mackie, Howard, and Claudio Castilini. “Vampire’s Kiss.” Spider-Man 77 (February 1997).

Marvel Preview. Marvel Comics. No. 8. New York: Marvel Comics, Fall 1976.

Morbius, the Living Vampire. Nos. 1–32. New York: Marvel Comics, 1992–1995.

Ultimate Spider-Man. No. 95 New York: Marvel Comics, 2006.

Mormolykiai see: Greece, Vampires in Moroi/Moroaica see: Romania, Vampires in