October is here, which means it’s time to celebrate the supernatural in preparation for Halloween. This month, The Comic Vault will be featuring a range of supernatural characters and reviewing occult style graphic novels. Monsters fascinate and repulse us, with vampires being one of the most famous examples. But vampires aren’t always created by magical means, which is the case for Michael Morbius. What makes Morbius different from other vampires and how does he fit into the Marvel Universe?
I was introduced to Morbius when watching the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon, where he acted as an enemy and ally to the web-slinger. It wasn’t until years later that I investigated his comic origin and found that it was adapted to the cartoon.
Morbius was born in Greece and suffered from a rare blood disease. Despite his illness, he went on to become a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist in his pursuit of a cure. His experimental treatment involved vampire bats and electroshock therapy. But instead of curing his disease, Morbius was afflicted with ‘pseudo-vampirism.’ This condition mimicked vampirism, with Morbius needing blood to survive. His skin became chalk-white and warped his appearance to that of a traditional vampire. So, rather than being a creature of magic, Morbius was a monster born from science.
Morbius started out as a villain to Spider-Man, battling him several times. He crossed over into anti-hero territory when he rescued Amanda Saint from the Demon-Fire Cult and helped her look for her missing parents. It wasn’t long after that he met Blade for the first time and the two of them have had a rivalry ever since.
The Living Vampire has made friends with other monsters, such as Werewolf by Night and Daimon Hellstrom. The trio are a part of The Midnight Sons, a group who defend Earth from supernatural threats. Morbius has also worked with Doctor Strange on multiple occasions.
Morbius serves as the scientific mind of the monster community, doing what he can to help those in need. His tragic backstory makes him more nuanced because he’s constantly battling his blood lust, while also trying to find a permanent cure for his illness. His desire to cure himself has led to him working with villains like Doctor Octopus and fighting against Spider-Man.
As a vampire created by science, Morbius is unique among his kind. He doesn’t possess all the powers of a typical vampire but he doesn’t suffer from all of their weaknesses either. For example, he’s not vulnerable to silver, crucifixes or holy water. His skin is photosensitive, but the sun isn’t a death sentence. He can move around in the day even though his powers are diminished. Also, when Morbius bites someone, they are unlikely to become a vampire because his disease is specific to him. Interestingly, Spider-Man’s irradiated blood has made his vampirism go into remission.
Morbius’ condition has likely affected his mental health, but he continues to do what he can in order to life his live. Getting the right kind of therapy is important and there are plenty of services out there that can help if you need to talk to someone.
Morbius is an underrated character with a rich, comic history. If you’re looking for a different take on vampires, then I’d recommend reading some Morbius stories. His most recent series can be bought on Amazon.