Morbius #1 Review

by Charles Martin on November 13, 2019

Morbius #1 Review
Writer: Vita Ayala
Penciller: Marcelo Ferreira
Inker: Roberto Poggi
Colourist: Dono Sánchez-Almara
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Ahhh, the 1970s. A dark time for America, and for Marvel comics. Creators went crazy for monsters, character deaths, and hideous clothes. Wild Gerbers and Starlins stalked the Bullpen, and lesser creators embarrassed themselves aping the philosophical storytelling of the giants in their midst.

One of Marvel's 70s-est creations returns to the solo series spotlight today with Morbius #1. And his new caretakers go all-in on the 70s feel, both in terms of deep-cut character picks and melodramatic tone. 

It's a risky gamble. Adroit storytelling makes it pay off. It gets the 70s Marvel formula right: A straightforward action story ennobled by a carefully-portioned dose of relevant philosophy.

Morbius starts by striking out of the shadows, terrifying and tearing up a gang of mooks in the employ of the Melter (see what I mean about deep cuts?) in a moody bloodbath that's simply scripted and exquisitely drawn.

As the baddies lick their wounds and discover the vampire who stole their super-science supplies didn't actually kill anybody, Morbius is winging away and thinking deep thoughts. 

The brainiac vampire treats us to a succinct and accurate dose of Aristotelian ethics. Vita Ayala does a superb job of making the philosophy clear while lashing it tightly to Morbius; it illustrates his character just as much as it informs the reader. 

Morbius believes in Aristotle's "greatest good." It's a fitting moral code for a man tormented by a self-inflicted vampiric curse: full of noble purpose but also incredibly easy to twist to selfish ends.

Morbius' no-kill policy has immediate drawbacks. Not only is the Melter very angry about losing his super-science stuff, but he and his mooks are perfectly positioned to team up with the sexy, mysterious vampire hunter who rolls into the last act.

Marcelo Ferreira plays a key role in the creative team. He delivers baroque, detailed visuals that carve horror-story feelings into both faces and poses. The art serves -- well -- as the primary storytelling tool in the action-heavy front half of the book. The visuals remain satisfying in the rear, backing the script's turn to the thoughtful with lots of great "tormented Morbius" panels.

Inker Roberto Poggi helps out by drenching the art in heavy (good heavy) shadows. Dono Sánchez-Almara polishes it all off with a palette that uses muted but varied colours as an effective background for bright red blood and exotically-coloured serums and melt-rays.

The creators do a great job melding a straightforward "vampiric antihero" yarn to a more thoughtful character study of Morbius' angst. The balance between the two suits my taste exactly, and I think there's more than enough objective quality here to at least satisfy any interested reader. 

This is also a pretty good comic for curious readers who want to learn what Morbius is all about. It neatly encapsulates the character's core traits without getting mired in continuity details, and it lays solid foundations for a self-contained arc.

Morbius #1 is a worthy callback to the decade that spawned the Living Vampire. It delivers angst and horror and bloodshed, leavened with some smart philosophy. Whether you want to learn about the fears that drive Morbius or just see him slash some dudes up, this comic delivers. And I think its parts are balanced enough that most readers will find themselves enjoying both sides of the coin.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I am tearing my hair out, a little bit, trying to decide if the Mystery Antagonist hunting Morbius is really who I think she is. Do I need to go re-read early Tomb of Dracula? It's a good frustration.