Michael Morbius is a vampire created by science. He tried to cure a fatal disease that he had, but his experiment terribly wrong. Now, he is a vampire who just wants to do good. He doesn't want to kill anybody, but his blood lust sometimes takes ahold of him. In ASM #700, he escaped The Raft and is now on the run from the cops.
Last issue, Morbius relocated to Brownsville. For a few days, he just minded his own business, but when he saw a guy harassing a lady, he tried to help her once he left. The lady practically spat on him for it and he was confronted by the guy later that day. The man revealed himself to be Noah St. Pierre, the man who (supposedly) runs Brownsville. For reasons unexplained, he and his gang later hunted Morbius down and shot him in the chest with a shotgun.
In the apartment of Wanda and Henry Evans, a little boy finally returns home to a small apartment to find his mother obviously upset. When she asks where he has been he says that he had been playing basketball with his friend, Carl without her permission. "You need to come home after school, Henry. Right away. Every day," she tells him. When he asks why, she replies, "Why do you think? There ain't any good out there." (This is the woman that told Morbius off when he tried to help her in the first issue.)
Morbius lies on the bacteria-infested subway floor with his chest steaming from his chest. (I would have though there would be more blood, since he had just been hit by a shot gun.) Somebody walks up to him and asks, "Listen, do you want a hand or are you content to die here?" Suddenly, Morbius jerks up, chest now fully healed and startles her.
The person trying to help is an Asian girl wearing baggy pants and a jacket that is full of pockets. "I'm Becky; I've been following you for a while," she states. As she helps him up, Becky says, "You just don't see many people sticking up for anyone in Brownsville. So, you seemed like a good guy to meet up with." Morbius kneels down and grabs his coat, telling her that he doesn't need a hospital and needs to lay low instead. "What are your thoughts on abandoned movie theaters?" she asks.
Twenty minutes before this, we see exactly why Noah's gang was hunting Morbius. Noah is walking away from Morbius after their first encounter, and Morbius thinks, "I've seen how he intimidates the people here. Profits off their misery. I'm not a big fan." (Morbius is so naïve. hasn't he seen this type of stuff in New York before?) When Noah notices that he's starting at him, he asks what he wants. Morbius punches him in the face.
Immediately, Noah is infuriated. "What made you think that was a bright idea?" he asks. Noah grabs Morbius by the collar of his sweater and Morbius says, "Just stay the hell away from me. We won't have a problem." Noah tries intimidating him and tells him that nobody else has been "stupid" enough to punch back.
"Or afraid, right?" Morbius confronts. "I'm not from here. I don't share whatever fear you've put into the people that are. You want respect? How's that work? You look ridiculous. And that's coming from me. The guy with white skin and red eyes." Noah replies, "...Great. Rickey, take a shot." Morbius gets shot in the arm and sprints away, but Noah's not done with him. He walks up to some of his fellow gang members and says, "Shan get my shotgun. We've got a meth-head to chase down."
Now, at an abandoned movie theater, Morbius is devouring a hamburger, explaining his situation to Becky. "You're a vampire, huh? That's cool," she says. "Kind of? Not really. Like I said, "Vampire-ish." Nobody bit me. It's science, not magic," he replies. "I think that you'll probably get off Noah's radar now that he thinks you're dead. This is a good thing. You don't want him knowing you're alive," Becky says. When Morbius asks why he should be scared, Becky says grimly, "Look, maybe guys like him don't scare guys like you, but there's a hierarchy around here and somehow this white dude with spikey, blue hair is right on top."
Morbius, slow to figure things out, finds out that Becky is homeless and lives in the abandoned movie theater, which isn't in great condition anymore. "I don't squat around condemned theaters because I'm bored of my Park Avenue penthouse! Science may have made you a vampire, but it sure didn't do much for your perception skills," she says. Becky shows Morbius her hobby, making portraits of the people from Brownsville, which she hopes might one day make her money. "Aw, crap. I knew I forgot something. I'm super late to baby sit. You wanna walk with me?" she offers.
On the streets, when Morbius finds that the person they're babysitting is Wanda Evans, he says, "We met the other day. Noah was bothering her about her son. She yelled at me. She seemed pretty sour." Becky says, "Oh, boo-hoo. She'll love you once she hears about punching Noah. Just--Trust me. Everything's going to be fine!"
Inside the apartment, Wanda is yelling at her son's friend, Carl, who knows something she doesn't. "Becky. Noah got Henry," Wanda tells her as she walks in the doorway. Becky introduces Morbius and Wanda says, "You punched out Noah? Damn, how're you breathing?" Becky steps in to help her with the interrogation and says, "We need you to tell us where they went. Mike here will beat Noah up." Carl is reluctant to give the answer, but does so anyways.
"How's it feel to be rolling with the big boys now, Henry?" Noah asks to Henry at his hideout. Henry is sitting on a table, surrounded by gangsters and drugs. Noah is standing without a shirt, tattoos covering his body. "This is the big time, my man. We're going to show you how to make some real big money," he tells him. Outside, Morbius and Becky are crouching, looking under the door at Noah and his gang. "So, what do you propose we do?" Morbius asks. "What do you think?"
"Hey, Henry! Just what do you think you're doing with these losers?" Becky shouts as she opens the door. Noah notices Morbius and says, "Look at this guy! Didn't I kill you an hour ago?" Morbius and Noah stare at each other intimidatingly. "I believe the boy's mother asked you to leave him alone," Morbius says. "I believe I don't give a crap. Let the boy decide for himself. You cool with me, Henry?" Noah snorts. Henry weakly says yes, intimidated by Noah.
Becky pulls Henry down from the table and Noah orders one of his gang members, Rochelle, to stop her. Rochelle punches Becky forcefully, subduing her. "As for you tough guy...You ready to turn around?" Noah asks Morbius. "Go home? run away again? Smoke whatever it is you smoke until you forget all about this?"
Morbius is fed up with him, lunging with his fist ready. But Noah grabs him by the neck and smashes him into the ground. After kicking him, Morbius weakly gets up to confront him again. "And, yes, I'm addicted. But not to meth," Morbius says. "Oh really? To what then?" Noah asks. And then I look at guys like him in the guy and think the world's just plain bad, Morbius thinks. Maybe the best thing isn't trying to be better. Maybe the best thing is being worse.
Without warning, Morbius rips open Noah neck with his teeth, the gang around them roaring in chaos.
This may be the first time in the history of comics where the second issue of a new ongoing is a better jumping on point than the first. The pacing is quick, but still captures the important elements of the story. It is obvious where Keatinge is going with the series now, with Morbius as the underdog we can root for. Becky, the new supporting character is also very interesting. I have noticed that, whenever a new supporting character is introduced, they tend to feel forced and unnecessary. Luckily, this is not the case for Becky, acting as an alternate for Morbius' laid back personality and setting up many plot points.
I will admit, I am a sucker for gang wars. And that is exactly what looks like is going to happen next issue. Noah is most likely dead and everybody is going to go crazy. If Keatinge can pull this off, the title may have more of a chance for survival financially. If not, I can guarantee that the title is not lasting past the tenth issue. This arc is in a make-it-or-break-it sort of situation. The chances of a great turnout were smashed by the below-average first issue, but it can possibly make decent sales is the next few issues are great.
Richard Elson's art portrays the story that Keatinge is aiming for very well. In a street level book, I would have expected a much more shadowed and darker approach to art. Instead, Elson plays with lighting and shading and manages to keep a dialogue-centered issue moving. There are a few panels, though, that are ruined by glossy coloring. Still, it doesn't feel like Elson belongs on this book. I would rather see him and Camuncoli trade spots so he can join the Superior Spider-man rotation.
This is a good jumping on issue with great art. Let's hope it stays this way.