Friday, May 16, 2008

1970's Flashback: Morbius the Living Vampire



Morbius the Living Vampire first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #101 (October 1971), as an effort by Stan Lee to get around the longtime ban by the Comics Code Authority on using vampires. Writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane created Morbius, as a living man who is given vampiric abilities via scientific means, and not the supernatural ones that were prohibited by the Code. Kane was further instructed to avoid Gothic fashion elements and design a costume for Morbius that was akin to what any other Marvel super-villain would wear, and he specifically chose the red and blue primary colors which were the staple hues from Spider-Man to Superman. In part because of the success of Morbius, the Comic Code was liberalized on the subject of vampires and other horror characters several months later, allowing Marvel and other publishers to use actual vampires such as Dracula.

Morbius also became the main feature of Marvel's bi-monthly Adventure into Fear anthology series from issues #20-31 (1972-1975). Michael Morbius was a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, who had attempted to cure himself of a rare blood disease with an experimental treatment involving vampire bats and electroshock therapy. However, he instead became afflicted with a far worse condition that mimicked the powers and blood thirst of legendary vampirism. Morbius now had to digest blood in order to survive and had a strong aversion to light. He gained the ability to fly, as well as superhuman strength and healing abilities. His appearance became hideous—his canine teeth extended into fangs, his nose flattened to appear more like a bat's, and his skin became chalk-white. He also gained the ability to turn others into similar "living vampires" by biting them. Though he managed at one point to cure himself of his pseudo-vampirism(while retaining a thirst for blood), he eventually reverted back to his altered form.
Guys, head over to the links section and hop on over to The Horror Of It All and also to Pappy's Golden Age Comics for two other timeless vampire tales from the days of yore. You'll be glad that you did.

3 comments:

Karswell said...

I was trying to remember if Morbius ever made an appearance in Tomb of Dracula...

Chuck Wells said...

He had a few appearances in the magazine-size Vampire Tales, but I don't believe that he faced off against Vlad in Tomb of Dracula.

Kid Terror said...

Ah, the beginning of the Bronze Age. If it wasn't for Mikey here, I wouldn't have some of my favorite Marvels; Ghost Rider and Son of Satan