With Morbius the living vampire getting a solo movie (albeit delayed), Marvel Comics has got a brand new Marvel-Verse collection to match. Running 129 pages, this collection features four stories, one of which is a two-parter featuring some of Morbius’s best adventures. The stories span his origin from Amazing Spider-Man #101 published in 1971 to the more recent Morbius: Bond of Blood printed in February 2021. The question remains, however: is this Marvel-Verse title a good primer on the character, or more of a random smattering of tales?
For a recap of all the Marvel-Verse books, be sure to read our reviews for Marvel-Verse: Thor, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Doctor Strange, Shang-Chi, Captain Marvel, Deadpool & Wolverine, Iron Man, Venom, Thanos, and Black Panther — each one features various stories from the title character’s history.
Starting things off is the two-part story by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane in Amazing Spider-Man #101-102. The story introduces Morbius while also integrating Lizard in a battle that only science can resolve. It also features the time Spider-Man gave himself four extra arms. Zoinks! The story shows its age a bit with how Gwen Stacy is characterized, but it’s a great bit of complex writing for Morbius.
Next up is a one-shot featuring Thing by Bill Mantlo and Arvell Jones in Marvel Two-In-One #15. Out in 1976, this story cleverly uses these two characters’ insecurity as monsters well. It does however use a rather ridiculous and over-the-top villain named the Living Eraser. His dialogue is hilariously overdone and his powers are depicted by having the artist simply not draw parts of his victims.
Next up is Spider-Man Family #5 by Kevin Grevioux and Clayton Henry, first published in 2007. Henry’s clean art style is a huge selling point, though Morbius is absent from much of the narrative. It does heavily show how Morbius is a good guy at his core even though he might risk the life of Doctor Strange to save a friend.
Wrapping up the book is Morbius: Bond of Blood, which ends up being a nice bookend for this collection. Ralph Macchio and Tom Reilly tell a story that connects to Morbius’ past and present. For a one-shot, this is an interesting little tale, though it has some issues. It ends up serving up a well-told recap of Morbius’s origin, but it ends up feeling redundant in this collection.
As the story unfolds, Morbius wants to do the right thing and save the life of his nephew. The unfortunate truth is Morbius killed his father and hopes to save the boy from a blood disease. This sets in motion Morbius attempting to find a cure by working with an unsavory supervillain. We get to see Morbius use his various powers, including floating flight, and get a sense of this hero’s abilities. It ends in an unsavory way — and somewhat shockingly abruptly — but it serves as a good introduction for new readers.
Art by Reilly is good, with great colors by Chris O’Halloran. There’s a cool effect with Morbius’s eyes glowing red, even when he’s cast in shadow, that creates an eerie nature to the character. Morbius is always a bit goofy and even gangly, which helps create a weird nature about him. There’s a showstopper page where Morbius must decide to help the supervillain and is frustrated by the option in front of him. In the lower right corner of the page, we see Morbius ready to enact the request with Ravencroft looming ahead of him and Reilly has allowed the spindly tree branches to curve up behind the panels up to the top of the page. It’s a cool effect that helps convey the monumental choice to do a bad thing for good reasons.
Of all the Marvel-Verse collections, this one serves as one of the better origin stories, making it a good pickup for those who want to get a sense of the character. There are many more tales, but each one here fully understands the idea of the tragic monster with a big heart.
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