Morbius: Bond of Blood #1 Review

by Charles Martin on February 10, 2021

Morbius: Bond of Blood #1 Review
Writer: Ralph Macchio
Artist: Tom Reilly
Colourist: Chris O'Halloran
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I admit I felt some trepidation when I discovered this comic was written by Ralph Macchio (not the Karate Kid; the comics Ralph Macchio).

Ralph Macchio is one of Marvel's titans. He's scripted hundreds of comics and had a hand in countless classic adventures featuring some of my favourite heroes.

But Mr. Macchio is also, undeniably, a 20th-century titan. I've found his more recent work to be simplistic and dated to an almost unbearable degree.

But! This issue proves there's a place for every voice. And Mr. Macchio's verbose, expository voice is perfect for introducing Michael Morbius, one of Marvel's foremost (melo)drama queens, to a new audience.

In this one-shot, a comprehensive origin recap segues smoothly into a desperate fight to save a family friend from a blood disease. The quest for a cure leads Morbius to cross paths with -- and eventually, inevitably, to fight with -- Mr. Hyde.

The script makes a grand meal out of the thematic links between the two characters. They're both mad scientists, driven toward villainy by their obsessive exploration of human transformation. But Hyde's gleeful contempt for the people he hurts stands in stark contrast to the guilt that torments Morbius over the monster he has accidentally become.

On the visual side, Tom Reilly provides some outstanding sketchy art. Character designs and settings are kept strong and clear. Mr. Reilly chooses his details carefully and brings action and emotion to life with powerful yet minimalist lines. Take a moment to appreciate that it's a lot harder than it looks to create this sort of art that delivers dynamic strength without cluttering the page.

Colourist Chris O'Halloran helps out by giving most of the scenes an incredibly moody nighttime palette. The key flashbacks to Morbius's origin are set apart by an effective colour fade. The contemporary action leans hard into blues and greens that do a lot to ramp up the tension.

Is this a perfect comic? Oh, no indeed. There's very little here to excite or surprise experienced Morbius fans; this is definitely a comic for newbies. But since Morbius has a movie coming up -- doesn't everyone? -- there's surely a market for a simple "Morbius 101" comic.

There's also a sharp limit to the effectiveness of Mr. Macchio's prose. It is, as I implied earlier, perfect for Morbius's tormented inner monologue. But once the contemporary plot gets him talking to Mr. Hyde, it becomes clear that the author scripts everybody as a fountain of expository verbosity.

This one-shot starts off with terrific strength as it lays out Morbius's backstory. It weakens as it sets out the contemporary problem confronting Morbius. And then it descends into full cheeseball territory when Moribus and Hyde come to blows.

But on balance, this is a satisfying (if simple) introduction to Marvel's Living Vampire. Morbius must drink blood to survive. But this one-shot admits, demonstrates, and even glories in the fact that chewing the scenery is also a vital part of his diet.

Morbius: Bond of Blood is the first word on Morbius, rather than the last. An outstanding starting point for newcomers to the character, it puts a full spotlight on the melodramatic self-deprecation that defines Morbius. Although the language grows clunky -- not every character should be as verbose as the protagonist -- it works with simple, strong art to illuminate all the important aspects of its star.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Heavy-handed it might be, but the thematic link between Morbius and Hyde is impeccably rational.