Morbius the Living Vampire

Morbius the Living Vampire

(pop culture)
Marvel Comics' macabre Morbius—not to be confused with Morbius the Time Lord from the BBC's adventure series Doctor Who—first took wing in The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #101 (1971), by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane. Spider-Man, briefly mutated into a six-armed freak after taking an untested potion intended to eliminate his spider-powers, is attacked by a powerful savage with “inhumanly white” skin and sharp teeth “like an animal's gleaming fangs.” This monstrosity, as revealed in issue #102's “Vampire at Large!” is actually Nobel Prize winner Dr. Michael Morbius, a European biochemist who was dying from a blood-cell abnormality. With the aid of his colleague Emil Nikos, Morbius initiated a bizarre therapy involving electroshock treatments and a serum derived from vampire-bat DNA; it bore grisly results, transmogrifying him into a superhumanly strong “living” vampire with an insatiable thirst for human blood. Aghast from his vile compulsion, Morbius attempts to hide from humanity but cannot escape it, encountering Spider-Man. With an unlikely ally in the scaly form of his nemesis the Lizard, Spidey battles Morbius to a stalemate, the bloodsucker swept away in the Hudson River. Morbius was resurrected in Marvel Team-Up vol. 1 #3 (1972), with the Human Torch helping Spidey ward off the vampire. A wave of monster mania swept comics after the Comics Code Authority censorship board lifted its long-time ban on undead characters, and the Living Vampire received his own series, taking over Adventure into Fear from Man-Thing, who graduated into his own title. The Uncanny Caretaker, Cat- Demon, and Helleyes were some of the oddball opponents Morbius faced—as well Blade the Vampire Slayer and CIA operative Simon Stroud—in his series that ran in Fear #20–#30 (1974–1975). During yet another Marvel monster-comic trend, this time in the early 1990s, Morbius again became a star, receiving his own monthly title (Morbius: The Living Vampire #1–#32, 1992–1995). The Living Vampire rarely rested in this eventful series. He received psionic and hypnotic abilities through a bogus vampirism cure, momentarily became human during 12-hour intervals (adopting the identity of Dr. Morgan Michaels), vowed to drink only the blood of the wicked, lost his beloved former fiancée, was killed and resurrected, was possessed by the demon Bloodthirst, and went insane. Through battles with dark forces, heroes as sundry as Dr. Strange, She-Hulk, and, of course, Spider- Man regard Morbius as their ally, but do so with trepidation, given his uncontrollable bloodlust. Nick Jameson voiced Morbius in the FOX Spider- Man cartoon (1994–1998), and the supervillain has been sculpted as action figures and coldcast porcelain mini-busts.