My thirst for Morebius led to us marathoning all the animated episodes with him in them prior to seeing the movie, and I also picked up the two Morbius: Epic Collection graphic novels, which are super long and full of great content, so it took me until quite a while after seeing the movie to finish them.
The Amazing Spider-Man #101-102
I didn’t realize that the whole “Spidey has 6 arms” plot being connected with Morbius’s emergence was actually a thing in the comics! But yeah, this is pretty straightforward stuff. And Morbius’s origin story as told in the flashback in the second issue is a bit more expansive than it is in the cartoon, actually kind of a bare bones version of what we end up seeing in the movie! Lizard’s involvement also spices things up a bit. The three-way fight at the beginning of #102 and Spidey and Lizard teaming up against Morbius at the end of the same issue were both pretty enjoyable, and to no one’s great shock I enjoyed Morbius’s stock villain dialogue about his superiority and everyone else being beneath him etc etc quite a bit.
Marvel Team Up #3-4
This was also kind of true of the two previous comics, but: seeing Spider-Man using 70s slang was kind of adorably weird.
#3 was arguably a bit better since it had Morbius making another vampire to be friends with, which I really wish would happen more often!, but he’s a black guy in a 70s comic book with a speaking role so of course he isn’t long for this world. But also Spidey’s titular team-up in this one is Johnny from the Fantastic 4, so… eh. #4 starts out more Spidey vs. X-Men than Spidey teaming up with the X-Men, and then becomes X-Men vs. Morbius. The X-Men vs. Morbius parts were pretty good, Spidey stealing a kiss from Jean at the end for no particular reason was not.
Giant-Size Superheroes #1
This is probably my favorite story in the first collection! Morbius basically enslaves Man-Wolf and the pair of them just whale on Spidey, true I Want This Twink Destroyed style. This is pretty much exactly what I would want out of a movie with Morbius as the villain rather than an antihero.
Adventure Into Fear #20-26
In a lot of ways this is the real meat of this collection. These issues of the Adventure Into Fear ongoing series were effectively Morbius solo comics, with all of their titles being stylized “Adventure Into Fear with Morbius The Living Vampire.”
The adventures Morbius gets up to in these are weird as fuck, and while the writing wasn’t always top notch I remained thoroughly entertained throughout. #20 sees Morbius escaping from the X-Men and enslaved by a hypno dommy Satanic cultist guy. He isn’t hot, sorry. But the dialog kinda is, as usual.
Oh, it’s worth noting that there’s a… kind of awkward depiction of a rabbi here? It’s not your usual brand of antisemitism, just… kinda weird? Like, they have him say “Isiaha’s beard” the way you’d have a wizard say “Merlin’s beard”? And I just don’t know what that’s about. Also his dying thoughts are that Morbius’s first name (Michael) is a Hebrew name, which is definitely what I’d be thinking as a vampire finished sucking the life out of my veins.
#21 finds our antiheroic vampire given the hard sell by a group of technologically advanced aliens called the Caretakers who are, I believe, approximately the zillionth powerful, mysterious force revealed to have influenced humanity’s evolution by Marvel comics. Morbius is loath to take part in their very eugenics-sounding scheme to “save” humanity not because of the principled opposition to eugenics you might expect from a scientist who accidentally turned himself into a vampire while doing genetic research, but because of some Social Darwinist Lite philosophy that he proclaims in a single throwaway line every time the subject comes up here and in future issues. I super hate it?
Anyway, Morbius goes to try to fight the Satanist hypnodom guy only to find out that he’s dating his ex or something, and then the hypnodom summons a catboy to fight Morbius because sure, why not. #22 finds that catboy trying to kill Morbius by just keeping him pinned to the ground until the sun comes up (the art is very horny), which won’t work because Morbius is a science vampire or whatever. Anyway, the catboy ends up getting summoned back to his world of catboys and the king makes up some bullshit about wanting Morbius around to thin the herd due to overpopulation when clearly he should just admit that all the subby catboys are horny for vampires.
#23 finds Morbius on a planet populated by humans, androids, and mutant aliens and it gets super eugenics-y and I kind of just don’t even want to dwell on it because ugh. #24 pits Morbius against Blade, and its coverart is actually used for the first volume of the Epic Collection even though it’s a super short confrontation, like it’s one of the least consequential things that happens in the entire collection. Personally I would’ve gone with the Morbius and Man-Wolf vs. Spidey cover from Giant-Size Superheroes #1 (which they did actually use on the back cover), especially considering that cover art would set the tone for how unbelievably horny a lot of the comics in this collection are.
#25 and #26 finish off this arc by having everyone (except for the actually-interesting catboys) come back and fight each other and switch sides a bunch of times. Probably my least favorite part of the entire arc tbh, but it gets the job done.
So, yeah! These are oftentimes terribly written, but the concepts in them are just so silly that I’m entertained wondering what will happen next. But the main thing that keeps me coming back is they are just super horny, with the lurid details of Morbius sinking his teeth into so many necks being lovingly presented both with vivid art and lovingly lingering narration. “Razor-sharp fangs part the smooth fur on the catwoman’s neck and plunge deep into her soft, warm flesh!” “The irresistible drive to feel teeth sinking into soft flesh, to feel steaming liquid on his tongue…” This is just vampire porn. Y’all wrote vampire porn. I’m not judging, it rules.
Vampire Tales #1-8
The Epic Collection only includes the Morbius stories from these comics, which is a shame because a lot of the other stories sound rad as fuck ngl.
These were in black and white, which was usually fine (and even kinda fit the tone) but the last page of issue 7 had one really weird panel where they had black text on a dark background that was just kinda impossible to read and I don’t really get how that happened? (The best I can guess is the thing was originally done in full color and then printed in black and white, but like… why would you do it that way???) Issue 8’s first page is a literal reprint of that page with white text boxes around the offending narration, which seemed like the printing equivalent of an “oops, our bad.”
But, yeah. These stories vacillate between being wonderfully pulpy and being… kinda plodding and boring? I do enjoy the more indulgent elements when they come up, and honestly just when I was starting to lose patience with this series the aforementioned issue 7 has a scene where a demonic skeleton that is on fire who wears a cloak and rides a horse that is also a skeleton and on fire catches Morbius with a barbed-wire noose and drags him around for a minute, so like… consider me bought back in, obviously???
There’s also plenty of horny bloodsucking in these, which like, you know I’m totally onboard with.
Giant-Size Werewolf #4
The Epic Collection closes out with this pretty straightforward issue pitting the very originally-named werewolf *checks notes* Werewolf against Morbius. Both Morbius and Werewolf are portrayed pretty sympathetically, and their fights are pretty decent. This also picks back up the storyline of Morbius’s ex-fiancee Martine from his arc in Adventure Into Fear, I’d actually say that their interactions take up the vast majority of the pages of this issue.
Adventure Into Fear #27-31
This arc opens the second volume of the Morbius Epic Collection. I wanna say it mostly wasn’t quite as good as #20-26, though it ended well in the last two issues with the vampire manor bloodbath and Martine as a vampire. But the preceding stuff with Hellseye was just weird in a less fun way than the previous arc.
Oh, and this arc is also way less horny, though there were flashes of brilliance in the dialogue at times.
Vampire Tales #10-11, Marvel Preview #8
Well, aside from the last of the three, this was a huge improvement over the Vampire Tales comics from the first volume! It’s kind of like this and Adventure Into Fear swapped places in this volume in terms of quality. These had plenty of quality vampire carnage and moody pulpiness. Just a lot of fun all around.
Marvel Premiere #28
Ghost Rider! Man-Thing! Morbius! Werewolf by Night (the guy who was called just “Werewolf” in Giant-Size Werewolf #4)! Avengers whomst?
It looked for a minute like they were gonna just straight up do the plot of the movie Volcano 20 years before it came out, but starring all these weirdos. I had no idea how it was gonna work, but I was here for it. Sadly they just sort of encountered a dude who is thematically positioned as being just as perfect and innocent as they were monstrous and depraved. Shrug.
Honestly, this is some of the weakest stuff I’ve read either volume of this collection.
Marvel Two-in-One #15
This was so dumb and boring, and the Living Eraser is such a dumb and bad villain. Not even sure why they bothered including this.
Spectacular Spider-Man #6-8
So-so arc. #6 is literally three new pages of framing narrative around a reprint of Marvel Team Up #3, presumably to reacquaint readers with him before his reemergence for this brief arc. #7 picks up from where we saw him last in Marvel Two-in-One #15, and then he and Spidey slug it out while Pete’s coworker Glory Grant is repeatedly imperiled to raise the stakes. It’s pretty easily the standout issue of the three. But we see throughout that Morbius is being controlled by some weirdo called the Empathoid, and Peter ends up possessed by him in #8 and has to go to some creative lengths to rid himself of his cranial stowaway.
Oh, and there’s like a bit of an overlapping arc with Flash Thompson I guess where he’s just gotten back from fighting in the Vietnam War? So that was… pretty weird, tbh, but we only get a tiny bit of it here.
All in all, a pretty alright arc, if unremarkable.
Spectacular Spider-Man #38
I liked this one quite a bit! It’s set on Halloween, the Spidey vs. Morbius fight is pretty great, and we finally actually see the Living Vampire peel up that mask and sink his fangs into that Spider-twink’s juicy neck!
Oh the part at the beginning with the three teenagers was pretty hilarious, though. Like, them getting attacked by Morbius was a cool way to open the issue, and I especially enjoyed the explicit Halloween vibes, but the jock freezing up and the nerd with incel vibes being brave felt like a serious case of wish fulfillment for the writer lmao.
Savage She-Hulk #9-11
Seeing She-Hulk defend Morbius in court was pretty cool, but I’m not really sure this collection needed this. It was like 75% the unrelated stuff She-Hulk had going on. I guess it was cool to see Morbius get a sort of mini-redemption arc, but I don’t know, I just don’t really feel like this added a lot. Like, it was actually pretty good taken on its own merits, but I don’t really feel like it sated my thirst for Morebius as much as most of the other stories in these collections.
Spider-Man (Animated Series), 2×06-2×10
A few years ago I rewatched the entirety of Batman: The Animated Series and its successor The Adventures of Batman & Robin, and although I loved them growing up I was frankly astonished by how well they held up when revisiting them as an adult. I tried to do the same with the Marvel/Fox Kids X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons and found that that was not the case for them. Like, they were genuinely kinda hard to watch.
I remembered the arc involving Morbius (which was apparently called “Neogenic Nightmare”) pretty well. Their clashes in these episodes were actually fairly similar to the comics! With the obvious exception of the fact that due to extremely silly censorship issues, instead of drinking blood with his fangs, Morbius has weird suction holes in his hands. It’s… yeah, like I said, incredibly silly, in retrospect.
Oh, and also instead of dating Gwen Stacey, Peter is in that weird awkward period where he’s kinda sorta into both Mary Jane and Felicia Hardy. Also, Lizard doesn’t team up with Spidey to fight Morbius, not that… that would’ve been pulled off very well.
Hoookay, I guess it’s also noteworthy that Morbius is meant to be Peter’s rival in college in this one. Which… I just don’t buy him as a college student at all? And he’s dating Felicia Hardy, which is just… weird!!! Idk!!! It feels weird!!! Like, you can’t picture them having a “so how’d you meet!” conversation with their friends or parents or whatever, it seems like the kind of relationship that only happens in a superhero cartoon because the guy is the hero’s rival.
Probably my favorite thing about these episodes is Morbius’s dialogue. When describing his evil plan, he threatens “the whole world will be vampires!” and I said that I’d be really upset if that line wasn’t in the movie. It wasn’t, for the record!! Really mad!!!! Also pretty upset that he doesn’t get the awesome blue hair, but oh well.
The other contender for my favorite thing in these episodes is the fact that Morbius ends up accidentally turning himself into a DOUBLE VAMPIRE with his genetic recombinator ray, and the result is that he’s this frankly super hot bat furry. Like, seriously, this is easily the hottest version of Morbius.
I also said I wanted that to be in the movie, and, well, take a wild fucking guess.
No “the whole world will be vampires”!!! No blue hair!!! No accidentally turning himself into a DOUBLE VAMPIRE which ends up being a super hot bat furry!!!!!!!!!
I still genuinely love it, though.
Like, okay. I don’t love that this forces me to like a Jared Leto movie. I understand that he’s gross af. But, y’all. Since the first time we saw the teaser trailer for this, my boyfriend and I have been cackling gleefully about the fact that they were making a Morbius movie??? Like, it never stopped being kinda hilarious and kinda awesome like this extremely weird slice of childhood nostalgia that you really wouldn’t expect to get a full-blown, big-budget motion picture in fucking 2022 and just… there it was!!!
I have no fucking idea who they made this movie for if not us specifically? I have no idea why they thought this was a good idea but I am so fucking glad they thought it was a good idea??? They made a Morbius movie??? They made a Morbius movie??? And it was exactly the level of “kinda good” that it could possibly be. It’s trashy fun. It’s… I mean, fuck, guys, it’s a Morbius movie. This was the ceiling. What the fuck do you want me to say?
Here’s a hill I would absolutely not be expecting to die on in like 2012: Sony’s “Spider-Man but without, you know, Spider-Man” movies are like 10,000x more interesting than the MCU. I’m not even talking about Spider-Verse because that would make this a really boring argument. I mean, the MCU was obliging enough to give us their own, much boringer version of Spider-Verse just to demonstrate their inferiority.
This isn’t as good as Venom but it’s like right behind it, and fuck, man, “this isn’t as good as Venom” is a thing I can say about a movie I liked, what a time to be alive.