Comics : Adventure Into Fear #20
This story is part of a Lookback Series: Lost Classics
This review was first published on: Jan 2010.
Michael Morbius was once a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. He contracted a rare blood disease that was slowly killing him. Desperate to save his life, he focused all his resources on creating an electrochemical process using vampire bat extracts. The process saved his life, but transformed him into a vampire. He feeds on human blood, which brings him into contact with individuals torn between helping him and hunting him.
Adventure Into Fear #20
Feb 1974 : SM Guest
Summary: Morbius, Spider-Man in Flashback
On a hot autumn night, the city of Los Angeles welcomes its newest inhabitant. Unlike those that search for fame and fortune in Hollywood, this transplant has different aspirations. Unlike others his needs are very simple. He only needs food and shelter. Since it is night, he has no need for shelter at the moment. His interest turns toward food. As stated, this newest resident is unlike others. He is Morbius the living vampire and he seeks human blood.
His first unsuspecting victim is a single career-minded woman named Judi, just leaving a party in an upscale neighborhood. Once his blood lust subsides, he regrets his actions. He knows that even if she survives this attack, it will haunt her for the rest of her life. Trying to live with this encounter will leave her permanently scarred; a curse he shares with all his victims. He quickly leaves to prevent drawing blood a second time, which would ensure her death.
As the sun begins to rise, Morbius makes his way to an unoccupied basement-level room. This will ensure that he is protected from the sun's radiation, which is deadly to his species. While he rests, he does not sleep. He does not dream; he has only nightmares. His efforts to cure himself of a rare blood disease transformed him into a vampire. Since then he has been driven to subsist on human blood, an act that repulses him beyond description. His recent encounters with Spider-Man and members of the X-Men did not work out well for either. Although Professor X learned of his unique condition, Morbius escaped before they could help him. To add to his personal tragedy, he learned of his ex-fiancee's impending death.
Some time later, two men arrive at Morbius' new hideout. Reverend Daemond is accompanying world-renowned biochemist Rabbi Krause to his laboratory to review his research. Both men are startled when they find Morbius. For some inexplicable reason, even though Morbius' thirst returns, he is not compelled to drink their blood. Perhaps because they have inner peace and do not fear him. Whatever the case, he tells them his backstory. Krause is both overjoyed and saddened to learn that Michal Morbius is still alive, but has been transformed into this state. Krause offers his services to help cure Morbius of his condition.
After a battery of tests, Morbius' thirst returns and he attacks Krause. Daemond steps forward and uses a Satanic chant to place the crazed vampire under his control. Krause is shocked at this revelation. Daemond explains that he had planned to use Krause's scientific knowledge to augment his Satanic powers. He decides that Morbius would be a greater asset and orders him to kill him. However with his thirst under control, he is able to shake off Daemond's influence, and prepares to kill Daemond in retaliation. Daemond once again puts Morbius under his control. He explains that he is engaged in a competition with the world as the grand prize. He then orders Morbius to seek out his opposition and kill them.
Morbius flies blindly toward his target, unware of the identity of his victim. He descends upon a limousine carrying his target and forces them to stop. He casts the chauffeur aside. As he tears off the door, he comes face-to-face with Daemond's enemy: a ten-year-old girl.
This qualifies as an "offbeat" tale as it deals with mostly unexplored characters (excluding our vampire buddy) and the full scope of this contest has yet to be revealed. I have no idea what is going on, but I find myself wanting to read the next issue and find out.
Some of these second-tier horror/suspense comics can go off in weird directions. In many cases this is a good idea, provided that they offer something not available in the more mainstream titles. I think a Heaven-vs-Hell competition with the world at stake would be an appropriate choice.
3.5 webs. A good start for a new direction in this title. It's a bizarre journey that on occasion we all must take. While this is potentially formulaic, it's a different formula than we regularly encounter. And as the commercial states "Different is good".
Following Morbius' debut in Amazing Spider-Man #101, he appeared in the following issues leading up to this: