Morbius: Who Is The Living Vampire?

Living Vampire: The Masquerade

Morbius:Accept this vow, then: If I must drink blood, then let it be the blood of the corrupt… of those who deserve to die. The blood of the guilty.

Morbius: the Living Vampire #1

A young woman wanders through a city. She feels like someone is following her. She looks back and sees a tall figure with a knife in his hand. The blade slashes a thin line across her throat as she flees in terror. The figure catches her when she ducks into an alley and pins her against a wall. She screams for help.

She sees a dark shape silhouetted against the moon. The shadow pounces onto the figure, shattering his jaw and throwing him deeper into the alley. The woman approaches her rescuer, but recoils at the sight of his blood-red eyes and fangs. The creature stares at her oozing cut, visibly struggling. He turns and lunges for the wounded attacker. The woman runs, ignoring the dying screams behind her.

Morbius is one of Marvel’s most tragic anti-heroes. A desperate scientist’s attempt to save himself turned his life into a living nightmare. At least he made our list of the Top 5 Vampire Superheroes. So who is he? How did he gain his powers? What is a living vampire? Let’s find out.

First Blood: Morbius’ Backstory

Morbius: [standing over his partner’s corpse] “The bat extract, the electrical shock, all acting on me somehow. Turning me into… you know the word well, don’t you, Nikos? The word is… vampire!

The Amazing Spider-Man #102

Morbius debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 in 1971. He was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. He was inspired by the Comics Code Authority relaxing their ban on supernatural creatures and based on a young Jack Palance.

Michael Morbius was a Nobel Prize winning scientist who contracted a terminal blood disease. He experimented on vampire bats while attempting to find a cure and mixed the treatment with shock therapy. The experiment worked, but transformed Morbius into an albino monster with a thirst for blood. For all intents and purposes, a vampire.

Barely a minute after turning, Michael murdered his partner and planned to do the same to his fiancé, Martine. A horrified Morbius fled the lab and eventually went to New York to search for a cure while draining random people when his hunger overwhelmed him.

Morbius’ feeding didn’t go unnoticed. He was hunted by Spider-Man, the X-Men, Blade, and other would-be vampire slayers. Morbius also encountered Martine again, constantly struggling with his desire to be with her and his fear of killing her.

Legion of Monsters: Morbius’ History

[Spider-Man has tackled Morbius through a lab table, destroying the equipment]
Morbius:You fool! I was working on a cure! Do you think I want to be this way? Now I am doomed to this gnawing hunger unless I feed!

Spider-Man: the Animated Series, “Enter The Punisher” (Season 2, Episode 7)

Heroes and hunters weren’t the only threat Morbius faced. He learned that his victims were beginning to rise as living vampires. This angered the vampire clans who saw the new breed as impure and wanted to destroy Morbius. He eventually developed a cure for the living vampires that assuaged the undead ones, but it would not work on himself. Why not? Plot contrivances, mostly.

Morbius was approached by Ghost Rider and other occult heroes to join a team called the Midnight Sons. The team had learned that a powerful demon called Lilith was planning to conquer the world, and Morbius was the only one who could make a serum that would stop her. One of Lilith’s human agents killed Martine, leading to his death at Morbius’ fangs. The Midnight Sons spared their ally when he swore to only kill the guilty from then on.

Morbius later joined an organization called A.R.M.O.R. that monitored alternate dimensions. While investigating the world of Marvel Zombies, he was kidnapped and impersonated by his zombified counterpart. He was eventually rescued and helped to close the portal between their universes. A.R.M.O.R. learned that a few samples of the zombie virus remained on their world, leading Morbius to reunite the Midnight Sons to destroy the remaining samples.

Midnight Son: Morbius’ Powers and Personality

Morbius: [tears out a villain’s throat] “We are not heroes. WE… ARE… MONSTERS!

Marvel Zombies 4

He may not be a “real” vampire, but Morbius comes pretty close. He’s super fast, strong, durable, has superhuman senses, can glide, and can hypnotize victims. He is also a brilliant hematologist. The downside to his powers is that he needs to frequently drink blood. Bagged blood doesn’t work because it doesn’t satisfy his hunting instincts and the anticoagulants make it inedible to him.

Morbius is mostly immune to vampiric weaknesses. Sunlight weakens him, but won’t instantly kill him. Garlic, crosses, and silver don’t do jack. Oddly, Morbius somehow killed his zombie counterpart by staking him in the heart, which made him crumble to dust. Another plot contrivance or the natural weakness of a zombified living vampire? You make the call!

Morbius is angsty and melodramatically complains about his bloodlust, but is a perfectly nice guy when he’s fed. He usually acts rationally with an understated personality, but has poor impulse control.

The Actors Who Play Morbius

Nick Jameson – Spider-Man the Animated Series
Benjamin Diskin – Ultimate Spider-Man vs the Sinister Six 
Stephen Norrington – Blade (Deleted Scene) 
Jared Leto – Morbius

Didya Get All That?

The Marvel version of Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Image: Jared Leto as Morbius. Courtesy: Sony Pictures

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