Morbius: The Living Vampire (Vol. 2) #6

Background

Morbius, after escaping the Raft, relocated to Brownsville. There, he took down the crime boss and initiated a gang war. Morbius, with the help of his new friends Becky and Wanda, rallied the citizens of Brownsville to help him in his quest to take control of Brownsville from gangsters. He kills the gangsters, while the neighbors clean it all up. Apparently, the Rose had guided Morbius to Brownsville and is manipulating him to destroy the town so he can rebuild it in his image. Also, he has Morbius' mom kidnapped and is working with his dad to take Brownsville. Yes, the sales are that low.

On the other hand, Spider-Man is now Doctor Octopus, as you should know. The last time Spider-Man confronted Morbius was in Amazing Spider-Man #689. He had made a cure for himself but it was all wasted on the Lizard. Then, Spider-Man (Peter Parker) confronted him over stealing a dead body and took him down without hesitation or mercy.

Story Details

  Morbius: The Living Vampire (Vol. 2) #6
Summary: Superior Spider-Man Guest-Stars (Finally)
Editor: Sana Amanat
Writer: Joe Keatinge
Artist: Valentine De Landro
Cover Art: David Lopez
Lettering: VC's Clayton Cowles
Colorist: Antonio Fabela

At night, a strange energy is coming from Horizon Labs after hours. Inside is a woman in a pink jacket with oversized gloves, who is rambling on like any other new villain, being annoyingly acerbic and satirical. "This is what passes for a cutting edge scientific brain trust these days?" she snorts. See? "Everything looks so...dated. It would have a certain naïve charm if it wasn't so pathetically, well, old," she continues, just as annoying as her beginning statement.

Thankfully, a cop comes to stop her from further irritating us. Actually, he's asking her to leave while reaching for his gun. "Let's cure the world of you," she says as she shoots him with a massive glove. That poor man died and his killer didn't have the decency to say something cool as she did it.

In Brownsville, the morning after, Morbius is talking to Becky over his headset as he takes down a group of gangsters. He's explaining that he would fight more effectively without the headset because it's too cumbersome. Becky is back in the abandoned movie theater with a desk covered with various computers and wires. How can she afford that technology if she's practically homeless? How does she get electricity in there?

Anyways, Becky says that she's Morbius' sidekick, to which he replies, "I don't have sidekicks." Apparently, Morbius has been answering Brownsville's e-cries for months. She asks him if he wants to answer the emails alone, and Morbius responds that he prefers anonymity. Becky tells him that he lost his anonymity after he "almost killed the entire local crime community" and "people notice vampires." Then, Morbius hangs up on her. "What a jerk," Becky says. "I hope he gets super beat up."

Morbius punches the last gangster and asks if that's all. "Not just yet. I'm up next," says the Superior Spider-Man, hanging on the wall next to the window which he has turned into a giant spider's web. A fleet of Spider-bots surround him. Morbius tries fleeing the crime scene, but Spidey webs his coat. "Please, Michael. Running is unnecessary," he says. Morbius pulls on the web strand, toppling Spidey from the wall to the floor. "I doubt you have my best interests in mind," Morbius states.

"Resistance is just foolish," Otto stammers. "Quite possibly. Still, I'll give resistance a try," Morbius says as he punches him. Spider-Man pulls out a camera-like device, which zaps and knocks Morbius out. "It's a visual neural dehabilitator, specified to your special genetic makeup. In Layman's terms, I took advantage of your distaste for bright lights," Otto boasts. Then, he webs Morbius up and swings away.

Later, Morbius wakes up restrained in a specialized chair in Horizon Labs. Max Modell welcomes him in a chair next to him and gets a bag of human blood for him. Spider-Man sits in an attack position on the ceiling. "First, let's be clear. I didn't approve of him shanghaiing you here. I was hoping this could be done amicably. But, yes, we needed someone who could obtain you. He was able, in that regard," Modell says.

Mobius responds that he doesn't want to be in Horizon, which quickly changes when Spidey reveals that they have a cure to make him normal. "It's gone. The Lizard claimed to have used what was left," Morbius counters. Modell says that there are enough building blocks to possibly generate more of it, but it will take "an awful lot of resources." He exclaims, "However, that's something I'm willing to do. Something I think I should do anyway, but Spider-Man thinks you won't help us if we help you."

Modell explains what they need help with, telling him that somebody broke into Horizon last night and "it seems like they could have made off with anything [they] have" and an awful lot there is priceless. But they went for Morbius' inventory, which Horizon employees haven't completely cataloged. Essentially, they need Morbius to figure out what the thief took. Otto, who had been sitting on the ceiling silently until now, says, "I'm much too occupied to pursue such petty thievery, despite how much more effective I would be." At least he's modest.

Spidey says that he will assist him in examining the crime scene and his "tools would likely result in identifying those responsible." Morbius clarifies, "So, I determine what's missing, who took it, and bring them in, and you--what? Attempt to cure me? With a cure that will likely fail?" Otto says, "Precisely. Of course, if you refuse, I'm certain the authorities will--" Modell yells at him to stop and assures Morbius that he doesn't "approve of Spider-Man's methodology in convincing [him] to cooperate." He asks for Morbius to help a last time and he says, "Where do we begin?" He also gives Spidey a dirty look.

In storage, Morbius looks at a shelf full of cardboard boxes, while Spidey monitors the crime scene with a green cube...or something. Morbius explains that it may take a while to sort through the boxes. "Consider it a testament to your tireless pursuit of creating a cure to assist the greater good," Modell says. "Except for when he exhumed the dead Connors boy," Spider-Man says.

Meanwhile, Morbius is unhappy with Otto's spider-bots "disturbing the crime scene." Otto responds, "They're equipped to properly analyze the crime scene and process the data in the ways you fools could never hope to." And we get to see Otto's world-class modesty yet again. "Yes, well-- Do you really need this many? Seven seems excessive," Morbius says as he picks up a spider-bot. "Odd. I only called in three," Otto replies.

Suddenly, the wall explodes and tons of spider-bots rush in. Morbius guesses, "Looks like someone else called them all in." Modell suggests Spider-Man calls them off, but his spider sense is "overloaded." As Morbius smashes a box on some spider-bots, he says, "Well, on the plus side, I can't say I don't appreciate the opportunity to destroy anything created by you."

"I understand the appeal," says the woman from the opening scene, creating a hole in the wall that blows the spider-bots and Morbius away. Our heroes are all left on the floor, dazed or something. Otto Octavius is disturbed and the woman walks by him, saying, "Aren't you an Avenger? You should be ashamed of yourself. So easy to manipulate. Just took figuring out the right frequency." Okay, this may sound crazy but I feel bad that even Doctor Octopus has to put up with this lady's dialogue.

Once she positions herself over Morbius, who is laying on the floor, she says, "With you, it's almost a joke. My client thought you'd be a challenge, so this must be painfully embarrassing for you." She tells him, "He did have the idea about me coming back here, to show you just how much we can break you without a thought. To show you how futile pursuing us would be."

Once she kicks Morbius to the floor, she continues with her rambling about how she doesn't fear Morbius and that she is the "next generation." She believes that she is a super scientist "capable of so much more than anything [they] could ever conceive." She finally finishes, "My point's this: You guys will have no idea what's coming."

She takes Max Modell by the hair and he begs her not to hurt them, which pisses Morbius off. He jumps up to help Modell, but is quickly subdued by the woman. She picks him up and smashes him into the floor, saying she knows his every weakness. Then, she throws Modell on top of him and claims, "I could end you in the blink of an eye." She positions her boot on Morbius' head and rambles, "But screwing with you is so much more satisfying. And thankfully, it pays the bills."

The lady in the purple coat walks away, stating, "Maybe I should take on the Hulk next. I bet he'd make me at least a little winded." After shocking Morbius again to and boring us further, she is asked by Modell why she is doing this. "Whatever the client wants. And he wanted you guys extra humiliated," she explains. As she is leaving, she kicks Spidey again and finishes if they want to "get back" at her, just ask for "Nikoleta Harrow."

Later, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Harrow is sitting in a brightly colored room with the Rose. "You know, I thought you'd appreciate beating up Spider-Man," Rose says. "I was more impressed by Max Modell," Harrow replies. When asked if she got what Rose requires, she states, "I just need to hit up A.I.M. and we'll have every compound we need to build this thing." The issue concludes when Harrow says, "You asked for something explosive. And I mean, really? Exploding's one thing...Ultimate Nullifying's another." On the Rose's tablet is the blueprints to the Ultimate Nullifier, which he will most likely use on Brownsville.

General Comments

When a writer introduces a new villain, they must be very careful to give them an interesting personality, exciting powers, and an innovative design. Sadly, Keatinge hits none of these essential points. Instead, he gives us a typically cocky, satirical woman with unexplained, uninteresting powers and a stupid costume design. I can't wait to see Nikoleta Harrow next issue! It feels like Keatinge is going back to Tom DeFalco's second run on Amazing Spider-Man, in which he used the Rose and various attempts at female villains, which all turned out to be exactly like Harrow. Among these were Delilah, Dragonfly, Doctor Octopus II, and Stunner. (I actually liked how Stunner was written in Web of Death. I just didn't like how he wrote her then.) I'm not sexist; I wish somebody with half a brain will come up with a new female character that is reasonable one day.

Otherwise, this issue is pretty bad. It mostly just revolves around two battles: Spidey vs. Morbius and Harrow vs. Morbius and Spidey. Both of them are boring and terrible in their own special ways. First, Spidey takes down Morbius so fast and easily, I just feel totally cheated. It took about three pages for Otto to beat Morbius in his own book. Come on! And don't even get me started with the second battle. The heroes just sat there while Harrow kicked and spat on them for six pages. I know it was supposed to make her seem strong, but, in turn, it made Morbius and Spidey look weak. Plus, why were all of the heroes just sitting on the ground when Harrow arrived? Keatinge should really clarify her powers.

Other than that, nothing really happens. I found it amazing how Keatinge defied continuity and common sense last issue to include the citizens of Brownsville into Morbius' fight against crime and they didn't even show up when he was fighting the gangsters this issue. What does this tell you about this series if the status quo that had just been defined last issue is already getting mixed? And how can Becky, a homeless girl, afford all of that technology in the abandoned theater that has no electricity? Really?

On the hand, De Landro's art tells the story but I found it ultimately unsatisfying. I always find De Landro's art too stylized and lacking depth and energy. The part that really bothered about the art is Spider-Man. I still don't quite understand how De Landro messed up so badly on a somewhat easy character to draw. Spidey's head is shaped lopsided and his eyes are really just drawn wrong. The new eyes on the Superior Spider-Man's costume are supposed to look big, emotionless, and bug-like. De Landro drew the eyes small, making every panel with him nearly unbearable to look at. At least Fabela's colors are great as always.

Overall Rating

Yawn. I give it 0.5 stars for the fact that Keatinge hasn't given up on this series even though it's already being cancelled and another 0.5 for the fact that De Landro was brave enough to sign on to drawing this book while it's currently one of Marvel's least selling and most irritating series.