Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #699.1

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This review was first published on: Jun 2014.

Background...

So...in ASM #698, Peter Parker, trapped in the body of Doctor Octopus, escaped from the Raft with the help of Hydro-Man and the Trapster. Also in the prison was Michael Morbius, who Spider-Man defeated in ASM #690, and Curt Connors, trapped in the Lizard's body. They both just let out of their cells, and this is a bloody mess!

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #699.1
Feb 2013 : SM Title
Summary: Morbius
Writer:  Dan Slott, Joe Keatinge
Artist:  Marco Checchetto, Valentine DeLandro
Cover Art:  Stefano Caselli
Lettering:  VC's Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Antonio Fabela
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Associate Editor:  Sana Amanat
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
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Articles: Lizard

In the Raft, Michael Morbius watches as Otto Octavius (with Peter Parker’s brain) escapes. When the Ock asks for the Lizard’s help but not Morbius’, the brilliant vampire is offended. Morbius is astonished when he presses against his cell door, and it easily falls. As Morbius is fleeing, the Lizard, remaining in his cell, seethes, “Say you make it [out of the Raft]. What happens to someone so reviled even Doctor Octopus turns his services down? Who takes you in?”

Michael Morbius reflects on his childhood; he was a timid boy who remained indoors reading all day because his overprotective mother thought he was “too fragile for the outside world.” His father, Makarioa Morbius, was an author, painter, and filmmaker who was never around for his son. Michael’s mother owned a bookstore, so books were prominent in his life.

Of course, Michael did tend to disobey his mother’s orders and sneak off with his friend, Emil Nikos. The boys decided once to go poke sticks at dead fish by the docks. Emil convinced Michael to walk along a high wall with him. When he attempted a jump, Michael fell and almost died because of his condition in which his blood cells were constantly dying. “Everything about my world was a life-affirming risk…but every risk a near death experience,” Morbius reflects.

Michael’s mother was stressed over her son’s injury, and Emil was apologetic, promising to help his friend with his condition. Years later, the duo of Michael and Emil continued in finding a cure to his condition through bats. With vampire bat serum, Morbius’ blood level began rising. Emil decides that they must carry on animal research, and their accomplishment is “Nobel prize big.”

One day afterwards, Emil returned from a Nobel ceremony to find Michael sitting in a chair beside a spilled teacup. Morbius explained that, when he lifted the cup, his hand snapped. His condition was worsening. Luckily, Emil revealed that he could finally cure him.

Upon a rental yacht, Morbius’ girlfriend, Martine, accompanied him in the final phase of his cure. “An out and about society girl falls for a morose scientist who can’t stand the sun? I don’t even have a hypothesis for that one,” Michael said. Morbius explained that they were doing their experiment on a boat because they couldn’t on land. Michael didn’t explicate why, justifying that he didn’t want Marine to worry. She had faith in her boyfriend because he always did the right thing.

Later that day, Emil was yelling at his friend, exclaiming that they weren’t ready for human trials. “How do we expect me to survive much longer?” Morbius shouted. A mere paper cut was a serious wound for him. Against his better judgment, Emil proceeded with the experiment. As he was about to begin, Emil explained that their partnership would be terminated after the experiment.

When the process began, Emil was impressed that Michael’s blood levels were rising and he was quite proud. Of course, something went terribly wrong when Emil got odd readings, so he attempted to stop the experiment. Sadly, it didn’t end, and Morbius broke from the experiment, newly revived as a vampire. His first victim was Emil. After sucking his friend’s blood, Morbius asked, “What have I become?” He staggered away and jumped from the yacht, worried about Martine’s reaction.

Over the past years, Morbius’ vampirism had given him a bloodlust, and men “nobler” than him justly tried to stop him. He found a few allies, “as broken and twisted as me. All reflections of the monster I’ve become. Reminders of what humanity I had long lost. Reminders of what I should leave caged.” (These partners were the midnight sons, if I recall correctly.)

In current time, Morbius responds to the Lizard (who is oddly out of his cage) by saying that he is going to Horizon Labs for the cure. “Every last drop was used on me and look how that turned out! You’re remaining a monster, Morbius!” the Lizard yells. Leaving the Raft, Morbius decides that he has nowhere to go, “only the world my mother warned me of, with all the dangers it brings.” There are only those who wish to imprison him and take his life: Spider-Man, Doctor Octopus, the police, and himself. By the time the police notice he’s escaped, Morbius is long gone.

To be continued in Morbius: The Living Vampire #1

In General...

Marvel launched the Point-One issues as jumping-on points for a series instead of simply renumbering it. The Point-Ones should provide a sense of the direction and tone for the series that entices new readers. I’ve found the Point-One issues I’ve read to be very successful and entertaining; ASM #654.1, ASM #679.1, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #16.1, Scarlet Spider (Vol. 2) #12.1, and Venom (Vol. 2) #27.1 were all terrific for new readers, and in some cases, better than the actual series in question.

This Point-One issue is focused on Morbius and fails on just about every conceivable level it could. Instead of writing about a new direction the character will take in his upcoming series, Keatinge decides to just give us his origin story. Morbius’ origin is an excellent one in my opinion, but we’ve all read it before. The only new actual event that actually happens is Morbius escaping from jail, and the weak direction we see for the character is that he has no direction. If anything, this should indicate a jumping-off point for readers.

There isn’t really much I have to say about this issue because there are only about three pages of actual content, but I have a few problems. Firstly, it’s odd how the Lizard escaped from his cell in the ending because it didn’t seem like he wanted to leave. It’s revealed later that he didn’t actually escape the Raft, so it may just be the artist’s fault. Secondly, I don’t see why Keatinge spent two pages on Morbius’ relationship with Martine because, afterwards, it’s completely forgotten. Third, why does Morbius randomly remember his origin when he’s escaping the Raft? It seems like a poor time to reflect.

Lastly, DeLandro’s art is as uninspired and boring as ever. He obviously has no attachment to the characters he draws, and the placing of his shadows is very strange, making the art tone-deaf. It feels like, instead of drawing detail, DeLandro just puts black everywhere on his art. Checchetto’s beginning two pages are excellent; too bad he didn’t draw the whole issues, but who could really blame him?

Overall Rating...

Poor jumping-on point, poor direction for Morbius' story, poor art. No wonder Morbius' series only lasted nine issues!