Morbius the Living Vampire, a scientist named Doctor Michael Morbius PhD, MD, is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Morbius went on to become a heroic, tragically flawed protagonist in his own series and other titles. Morbius is a man suffering from vampiric abilities and physical traits resulting from a biochemical experiment, as opposed to supernatural means.
Jared Leto has seemingly been signed on to star in Sony’s upcoming big screen adaptation of Morbius the Living Vampire.
Powers and abilities:
Michael Morbius experienced a transformation by electrical shock treatment and chemical ingestion into a pseudo-vampire. As a pseudo-vampire, Morbius does not possess all the powers of an actual vampire, nor is he subject to all the traditional limitations and weaknesses thereof. He possesses a variety of superhuman powers, some of which are similar to supernatural vampires within the Marvel Universe such as superhuman strength and speed as well as heightened senses including night vision and echolocation.
Due to his vampire-like condition, Morbius is forced to ingest fresh blood on a regular basis to sustain his life and vitality. However, Morbius does not possess any of the mystical vulnerabilities that supernatural vampires are subject to, such as garlic, holy water, crucifix, or silver. Morbius has a strong aversion to sunlight, thanks to his photo-sensitive skin which prevents any protection from major sunburn, in contrast to “true” vampires that are incinerated by it, with the result that he can move in daylight but his powers are diminished and he will stick to the shade if circumstances demand him to be active during the day.
Morbius also lacks the shape-shifting and weather-control powers, and the ability to control animals, of vampires. Like “true” vampires, Morbius does possess the ability to hypnotize beings of lesser willpower and bring them under his control, which can only be resisted by those possessing an extremely strong will. Morbius possesses an accelerated healing factor and can recover from mild to moderate injuries at a rate beyond that of ordinary humans.
Most of Morbius’ victims die or are severely injured by his bite. Unlike supernatural vampires, Morbius’ victims do not necessarily become vampires themselves. There have only been six instances where Morbius’ bite has turned other individuals into vampires. The causes behind these transformations have never been clearly explained, even though in Blade’s case, Morbius’ bite combined with his unique physiology to turn him into a part-vampire with all the strengths of a traditional vampire and none of the weaknesses.
The irradiated blood of Spider-Man causes Morbius’s vampirism to go into remission. As a result, after drinking Spider-Man’s blood, Morbius does not need to feed again for some time. Morbius once developed a serum based on Spider-Man’s blood, which would stave off his vampirism for short periods of time.
Morbius possesses the ability of transvection, navigating wind currents and gliding for various distances. In Morbius the Living Vampire #2, it was alluded to that this ability may be related to hyper-evolved portions of his brain caused by a combination of his blood disease and vampiric condition.
Even before he contracted the disease of pseudo-vampirism, Michael Morbius already possessed a gifted intellect, and he is an expert biologist, biochemist and neuroradiologist with a PhD in biochemistry, and a Nobel laureate. He also attended medical school, where he specialized in hematology.
Comic book chronology:
Created by writer Roy Thomas and originally designed by penciler Gil Kane, the character first appeared as an antagonist in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 (October 1971). This followed the February 1971 updating of the comic-book industry’s self-censorship board, the Comics Code Authority, that lifted a ban on vampires and certain other supernatural characters. It was the first issue of Marvel Comics’ flagship Spider-Man series written by someone other than character co-creator and editor-in-chief Stan Lee.
In 2009 Roy Thomas explained: “We were talking about doing Dracula, but Stan wanted a costumed villain. Other than that, he didn’t specify what we should do.” Kane based the character’s look on that of actor Jack Palance (Craze; Torture Garden; Man in the Attic).
A tragic and sympathetic antagonist in his initial two-issue arc, having acquired his vampiric addiction while researching a cure for his own rare, fatal blood disease, Morbius collided again with Spider-Man and others in Marvel Team-Up #3 – 4 (July and September. 1972).
Morbius went on to star in Vampire Tales, a black-and-white horror-comics magazine published by Marvel’s sister company, Curtis Magazines, appearing in all but two of the mature-audience title’s eleven issues (August 1973 – June 1975). All but the first and last of these were written by Don McGregor, with penciling by Rich Buckler and by Tom Sutton, primarily.
After his first two Vampire Tales stories, Morbius concurrently became the star of his own feature in Marvel’s bimonthly Adventure into Fear anthology series, beginning with issue #20 (Feb. 1974) and continuing through #31 (Dec. 1975), the final issue of that title.
These were written, successively, by Mike Friedrich, Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, and Bill Mantlo, working with a wide variety of pencilers.
Following sporadic guest appearances throughout the next sixteen years, the tragic character was revived in the 1992 series Morbius the Living Vampire, launched as part of the “Rise of the Midnight Sons” crossover story arc in Marvel supernatural/horror comics. It ran thirty-two issues (Sept. 1992 – April 1995). These later stories add to his repertoire of powers the ability to hypnotize others, and describe his ability to fly as psionic in nature.
Alongside the core series Morbius the Living Vampire, a reprint series, Morbius Revisited, was published from 1992 to 1993, and featured material originally published in Adventure into Fear #27-31.
Solo stories starring Morbius also appeared in Marvel Comics Presents #144 (Dec. 1993), several issues of the Midnight Sons Unlimited series (1993–1995), the one-shot Strange Tales: Dark Corners #1 (May 1998), Amazing Fantasy, vol. 2, #17 (March 2006), and the one-shot Legion of Monsters: Morbius (Sept. 2007).
A zombified version of Morbius appears in the 2008-2009 Marvel Zombies 3. The real Morbius of Earth-616 (mainstream universe) is kidnapped and beaten by his zombie counterpart who found a way from the Marvel Zombies universe into the Marvel universe. Zombie Morbius holds the normal one captive while using a latex mask to look normal!
The Ultimate Marvel version of Morbius first appeared in Ultimate Spider-Man #95. Unlike his original character, he is a “true” vampire, the son of Dracul, and brother of Vlad III Dracula himself with all of the powers and abilities associated with the usual interpretation of Dracula. This version of Morbius, however, seems to be heroically struggling against his baser instincts, and is in fact a vampire hunter.
On October 17, 2012, Marvel announced that Morbius would appear in a new comic by writer Joe Keatinge and artist Richard Elson, beginning January 2013.
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