19th Nov2019

‘Morbius: The Living Vampire #1’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Vita Ayala | Art by Marcelo Ferreira | Published by Marvel Comics

morbius-1-cover

Let’s be honest here, Michael Morbius has had several shots at solo stardom down the years and none have really taken. He’s a perfectly decent supporting character or guest star, but suffers from the same problems that all ‘fad’ characters do. Originally just created as a throwaway Spider-Man villain by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane way back in 1971, mainly as a way of enjoying the new ‘horror characters are no longer banned’ loosening of the comic code, he had a decent run in the 1970’s as a recurring villain then a tragic anti-hero, in the vein of Werewolf By Night and other Marvel horror characters. He then fell back into semi-obscurity before the horror revival in the early 1990’s saw him get his own book for a time. So why a relaunch now? I’m sure it’s because there are so many Morbius stories that still need to be told, and nothing to do with the Morbius movie coming out in 2020. Let’s take a look.

We start with a classic comic book opening, with the villain and his henchmen plotting in his lair. This time it’s that third rate villain The Melter, though here a little more menacing and bad than normal. He’s working on some formula which will give normal people powers it seems, and has a (semi) willing volunteer in one of his henchmen. Just before it is tested, all hell breaks loose as their warehouse comes under attack. It’s Morbius, and artist Marcelo Ferreira gives him quite the entrance, all blood and snarling face. He’s a force of nature, at home in the shadows chasing down the fleeing henchmen. He also takes out The Melter, who’s not quite so full of himself now. Job done. But why is Morbius taking out second rate vilains?

Two reasons. One, The Melter and his gang have been throwing their weight around the local area, stealing and hurting the locals, which drew Morbius’s attention. Secondly, the chemicals and formula The Melter had been working on are ones that Morbius can use for his ongoing quest to cure himself of his vampirism, scientifically created as it is. Morbius is still a good man, he didn’t kill anyone in that warehouse, but he has to resist his vampiric urges all the time. The chemicals he has liberated from The Melter prove useful, and he tries another variation of the formula to cure himself. It works. Maybe.

Back at Melters HQ they are picking up the pieces, when a second stranger in as many hours appears. This one though is friendlier, to them at least, and is on the trial of Morbius himself. To help cure him? Nope, to kill him. Poor Michael Morbius. Just when he’s cured himself, too. Actually about that. There’s bad news and bad news. Not only has the ‘cure’ not actually taken, it’s actually supercharged his vampirism, mutating him into a greater menace than even before. Oops. Who do we cheer for next issue?

A very nice first issue to get this book up and running. Morbius is written well, the sad, tragic anti-hero, a man trapped in a monsters body. The self narration was well written and gets the reader up to speed very quickly, and using a second rate but recognisable villain like The Melter works well to get us straight into the action. A much as I enjoyed the action sequences, I think Marcelo Ferreira had even more fun drawing them. Some great panels in there, especially the double page spread. Perfect art for this story, with dark, moody shadowy colouring by Dono Sanchez-Almara. What could have been a cynical marketing ploy to raise ‘brand awareness’ (which it still is a little of course) actually turns out to be a very good first issue with a lot of promise.

Yes, he sounds like the lead singer of a Death Metal band, but Michael Morbius turns out to be a great character here. Can he sustain his own book? We’ll see. For now, though, a great book to get your teeth into.

***½  3.5/5

Morbius: The Living Vampire #1 is out now from Marvel Comics.

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