Joe Keatinge introduces Morbius to the Superior Spider-Man

June 18, 2013 | 5:18 p.m.
morbius6cover Joe Keatinge introduces Morbius to the Superior Spider Man

"Morbius, the Living Vampire" No. 6, written by Joe Keatinge with art by Valentine de Landro, is the first part of the two-issue "Cure Everything." Cover art by David Lopez. (Marvel)

morbius1 Joe Keatinge introduces Morbius to the Superior Spider Man

The cover for "Morbius, the Living Vampire" No. 1. (Gabriele Dell'otto / Marvel)

Morbius and Spider-Man go way back: The living vampire was first introduced to Marvel Comics readers in the pages of “The Amazing Spider-Man” in 1971. And it’s been a turbulent relationship, at best.

But Morbius and the Superior Spider-Man – still Peter Parker’s body, but now controlled by the consciousness of arch-nemesis Dr. Octopus – will first cross paths Wednesday in “Morbius, the Living Vampire” No. 6, and writer Joe Keatinge is making the introduction.

The tragic Michael Morbius is, as Keatinge had the character introduce himself in No. 1, “vampire-ish” – he has a taste for blood, yes, but also for garlic (especially in a nice pesto dish). His vampire traits came not from the bite of a bloodsucker, but from a failed experiment to rid him of a rare blood disorder.

Morbius makes an early appearance in this 1971 issue of "The Amazing Spider-Man." (Marvel)

Morbius makes his first appearance in this 1971 issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man.” (Marvel)

So far in the new series the character, who escaped from the superhuman prison the Raft, has been out in Brownsville, away from Manhattan and Horizon Labs, where he had been working on a cure until things went wrong again. But now a new chance to end his vampirism is drawing him back.

Keatinge offers readers some hints at what to expect from the new two-issue arc, “Cure Everything,” in this email interview.

HC: Your first arc took Morbius into unfamiliar terrain in Brownsville. “Cure Everything” looks to be bringing him back to Manhattan, back to Horizon Labs. What is that transition like, and will Becky and/or other new characters introduced in the first five issues continue to have a presence in Morbius’ existence?

JK: Brownsville and Manhattan represent very different sides of Morbius’ life, with Manhattan largely reflecting his past and Brownsville his possible future. The transitions — well, he’s going in kicking and screaming. This isn’t something he’s thrilled by. Interacting with Spider-Man has traditionally led to his life going horribly wrong. And it’s not different here.

HC: The last time Morbius crossed paths with Spider-Man, it was Peter Parker. Now, with Spider-Man’s body inhabited by Dr. Octopus, how might that longtime relationship change? 

JK: Completely. Even if Spider-Octo won’t consciously admit it, Morbius is the closest thing he has to a true colleague or person he could relate to. He’s going to start off by, well, being very Otto Octavius, but by the end of it — well, read the damn thing.

HC: The title “Cure Everything” sounds like the sweeping, rushed thinking that turned Morbius into a living vampire in the first place. He seems to know he can be his own worst enemy. Does he feel he’s grown enough to do it right this time?

JK: Absolutely not. Morbius is a relentless screw-up and he knows it. Even with Peter Parker being a complete jerk toward him, Morbius is always his absolute worst critic. He knows he’s voted “Most Likely to Accidentally Ruin Everything.” Growth really isn’t part of his internal equation.

HC: By the end of Issue No. 5, Morbius seemed to have conflicted feelings about being, as Becky put it, “lifetime president of the neighborhood watch” in Brownsville – he’s had her spray-paint his image looking over the neighborhood but expresses reservations privately to her. What is pushing him anew to cure himself?

JK: As people will see in “Cure Everything,” the choice is not entirely his. Morbius is doing what he’s doing in Brownsville more out of necessity than desire. He’s not a noble hero. He’s not someone who’s concerned with the great responsibility coming with great power. He sees Brownsville and his role in it as his best chance at his own continued survival.  

The cover for "The Amazing Spider-Man" No. 699.1. (Stefano Caselli / Marvel)

The cover for “The Amazing Spider-Man” No. 699.1. (Stefano Caselli / Marvel)

HC: You showed readers Morbius’ mother in flashback in “Amazing Spider-Man” No. 699.1 and “Morbius” No. 1, with a glimpse of his absent father, who was presented in Michael’s narration as a renowned artist. And now you’re circling back. What drew you to looking at Morbius’ family relationships?

JK: Mostly because it’s been so unexplored so far. With this new series, I wanted to make a conscious effort to not repeat what’s gone on before. Rick Remender and company did such a kick-ass job with Morbius in a world of monsters in “FrankenCastle,” then Dennis Hopeless did something equally kick-ass in “Legion of Monsters.” Doing that over again just seemed kind of boring to me, so with the three story lines I set out to do with Morbius, I wanted to make sure they were completely different from what went before. Dealing with his family was number one on that list. And I think once people read Issue 9 they’ll understand they’ve been much more prevalent the whole time.  

HC: What can you tell readers about plans for you, and for Morbius, after No. 9?

JK: Nearly everything I’m doing next is under lock and key for the next few weeks. Once con season rolls through, people will have a better idea of what I’m up to at Marvel and Image, in specific. In terms of stuff that’s announced, I’ll be stopping by the folks over at DC Comics for their “Batman Inc.” special and something else that’s not announced. However, for the foreseeable future, I’m making mine Image and Marvel, starting with my Image collaboration with mad genius James Harvey. I’m doing a bit outside of the world of comics too, but — well, stay tuned.

HC: What would you like your run with this character to be remembered for?

JK: More than anything else, I’d love for us to be remembered for having the bravery to put a vampire in a hoodie.

– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon

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