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Life was simpler for Peter Parker when he believed that the bite from a radioactive arachnid that transformed him into Spider-Man was a capricious quirk of fate. His discovery of his predestination to become the “totem” of the spider, the latest in a cult of insect-powered beings, placed him into the sights of the ancient “totem stalker”: Morlun. Created by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist John Romita, Jr. in The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #30 (2001), Morlun is an energy vampire, a parasitic humanoid that feasts upon totemistic powers rather than blood. Tireless, terrifying, and tremendously strong—much stronger than Spider- Man—the chalk-faced Morlun is the ultimate tracker, able to locate any prey once catching its scent. While Spider-Man is no stranger to vampires and hunters—Morbius the Living Vampire and Kraven the Hunter are among his foes—he finds Morlun inescapable. Weakening with each of the villain's energy-siphoning blows, in this first storyline Spider-Man desperately attempts to poison the vampire by administering to himself a radiation overdose. He nonetheless would have died at Morlun's hands were it not for the intervention of Parker's enigmatic mentor, the fellow spider-man Ezekial, and Dex, the “Renfield” to Morlun's “Dracula,” who slays his abusive master. Like Dracula, Morlun returned from the dead in “The Other,” a storyline serialized throughout the Spider-Man comic-book franchise in late 2005 and early 2006. Parker was beaten within an inch of his life by his most lethal enemy, forced to “evolve or die” in this multi-layered adventure that expanded the lore of the spider totems and reset the tone of Spider-Man's adventures. Should Marvel Comics use the “unstoppable” Morlun judiciously, then he could very well endure in the Spider-Man mythos, but the biggest threat this vampiric villain faces is the publisher's, or an eager writer's, desire to overexpose him.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.