Morbius: The Living Vampire (Vol. 1) #1

Background

The "new" Ghost Rider (Dan Ketch) has teamed up with the "old" Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) to gather supernatural allies to fight Lilith, the mother of all demons, who has recently returned to Earth.

Morbius is one of the fabled "Midnight Sons" who are destined to protect Earth from Lilith. Blaze and Ghost Rider have been told by Blaze's psychic friend Clara to find Martine Bancroft at the Paramount Hotel in New York City. She is the link to finding Morbius.

Story Details

  Morbius: The Living Vampire (Vol. 1) #1
Summary: Peter Parker Cameo
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Writer: Len Kaminski
Pencils: Ron Wagner
Inker: Mike Witherby
Articles: Morbius

Morbius is prowling around the rooftops of New York. The craving for blood has pushed aside any shred of humanity he has left; all that remains is the eternal hunger. He spots his prey on the streets below. A lone redheaded woman. Nobody is around to interfere. He launches himself toward the ground and catches her unaware, pushing her into a dark alley. He quenches his thirst for blood. It is then that he regains his faculties and laments giving into his vampiric needs.

Following Clara's suggestion, Ghost Rider and Blaze visit Martine Bancroft in New York. Ghost Rider is wearing a helmet to hide his true identity. Reluctant to discuss Morbius at first, Martine complies when Ghost Rider removes his helmet to indicate the gravity of the situation. She then explains how she was engaged to the Nobel-Prize winning scientist. Neither of them were aware at the time that he had contracted a rare - and fatal - blood disease. Ignoring any possible risks, he synthesized a cure from vampire bats. The process cured his disease but turned him into a vampire. 1 He has avoided all contact with her after he almost killed her2. She has been keeping tabs on him; she is aware of his recent encounters with Dr. Strange3 and Spider-Man 4. She is currently working with Dr. David Langford who is willing to help cure him. If this doesn't work, she produces a high-caliber handgun and promises to end his misery.

She contacts Langford and tells her that she and her new friends will be arriving soon. Unknown to her Langford is working for Dr. Paine, who wants Morbius dead. Using Morbius' journals he kept while trying to cure himself, he has created a serum that will kill him and look like an accident.

Lilith, Pilgrim, Blackout enter a goth club called The Limelight to find Fang and Nakota, two more of her lost children. Using Nakota's special mystic awareness, she is able to monitor the activities of their enemies. She dispatches Fang on a special mission.

Martine and her associates track Morbius to an abandoned tenement building. Morbius is quickly captured by Blaze and Ghost Rider. They bring him back to Langford's lab. Prior to their arrival, Fang sneaks into the lab and adds his blood to Langford's "cure".

When the quintet arrive, Langford injects Morbius with the serum and begins to mutate. The corrupt scientist is totally unprepared for this reaction. Morbius escapes through the nearest window while screaming in agony. At dawn, he is still changing and must find shelter from the sun. On instinct he finds the residence of his old friend Dr. Jacob Weisenthal and crashes through his window. Nine hours later Morbius awakens to find he has reverted to human form. Moments later, he learns that this change is temporary and transforms back into his vampiric form. Jacob offers to help recreate the substance that caused him to revert to his human form. Morbius knows where to get the original sample. During one of his "normal" periods, Morbius purchases more protective clothes from a nearby goth store and heads for Langford's lab.

Martine arrives at Langford's lab in time to overhear associates of Dr. Paine convey the doctor's displeasure with Langford's efforts. Martine barges in informing them that she knows the truth. She takes the gun out of her purse prepared to shoot them, but it is soon taken from her. Langford then shoots her through the chest with her own gun.

When Morbius arrives, he is able to say goodbye to Martine but the hunger returns. He is unable to stop himself from drinking her blood. When he has finished, Morbius vows revenge. Langford and his associates return and face the full wrath of Morbius. Morbius take a certain degree of satisfaction draining Langford for his crimes against him and Martine.

Morbius takes the serum Langford injected into him, hoping that somewhere in this container lies the cure for his condition. He is not paying attention to the fire started during his rampage nor its proximity to the oxygen tanks. The resulting explosion hurtles him through the window and causes him to lose his grip on the beaker. Thankfully it is caught by Ghost Rider who has returned to the lab with Blaze.

Once on the ground, Morbius explains what happened and they return the beaker to him. He vows to drink only the blood of the corrupt until he can find a cure for his condition. Ghost Rider agrees and leaves in search of other allies in the upcoming war with Lilith.

Watching the events unfold through Nakota's powers, Lilith is furious that Morbius is still alive. She then turns her attention to a less challenging foe: Victoria Montessi.

At the Daily Bugle, news of a bloodless corpse makes its way into the office of Joe Robertson. Peter Parker overhears this and knows that Morbius is behind this.

General Comments

One of the most difficult things to do when writing a multi-part crossover in which you spin off four new tiles (Spirits of Vengeance, Nightstalkers, Darkhold, and this title) is to include the necessary crossover elements but at the same time kicking off each series in the hopes that reader will return next month.

Of the four new series created by this crossover, Morbius was by far the best written issue. I'll go so far as to say it was the best written of all six parts including the parent Ghost Rider title. In the midst of this occult craziness the creators were able to use the elements of the crossover in the best possible manner to send our anti-hero in a new direction. This is tough to do, but they did it.

The "cure" aspect of this series is nothing new. We've seen that in the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and other titles where one of the primary storylines involves ridding themselves of their particular curse. I may be wrong, but I don't think that any serious attempt to cure Morbius was attempted prior to this series. The introduction of Lilin blood and Langford's serum into Morbius' system as a potential cure looks promising. The "drinking the blood of the guilty" angle is also a new twist.

Overall Rating

4.5 webs. An impressive opening for the series. They do a good job recapping the previous issues. They add an unprecedented level of sympathy for the character. And to top it all off, the story covers a lot of ground but never comes across as rushed. This is something that all creators should use as a reference as a "how its done" issue.

Footnote

  1. Amazing Spider-Man #100. Origin of Morbius
  2. Adventure Into Fear #31. Morbius almost kills Martine. Avoids future contact.
  3. Dr. Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #10. Recent encounter with Dr. Strange.
  4. Spider-Man #13. Recent encounter with Spider-Man.