Comic Book: Morbius

Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, Morbius has fought Spider-Man ever since his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #101 (October 1971), occasionally working together or fighting against several other Marvel characters, perhaps most commonly with Blade. He was also seen as a character in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.

Michael Morbius, also known as "The Living Vampire", was a Nobel Prize-winning scientist suffering from a fatal blood disease. In hopes of curing this illness he treated himself with fluids distilled from vampire bats and, as a last chance, tried shock-treatment as a way to electrically create blood cells. This "cured" him by transforming him into a vampiric being that lusts after blood as a way to counter the disease. He also gained several other vampiric attributes, such as white skin, fangs, an allergy to sunlight (since he isn't undead, sunlight won't kill him outright, but his lack of melanin leads to quick burns), Super Strength, a Healing Factor, and hollow bones which give him the capability of flight. Later he gains more supernatural abilities like hypnosis.

Because of his need to drink blood from living victims (stored blood contains too much anticoagulants for his body to handle, or the need to kill stays even after the physical need is satisfied) Morbius wallows in guilt and tries to find both an alternative substance to blood and a way to cure himself — without much success. At best he has been able to change back into a human for some periods of time, but either has soon reverted back or retained the need to drink blood.

Despite all this, he's generally willing to help or at least unwilling to harm people he sees as innocent or has a closer relationship with.

He had a new series in January 2013 as part of Marvel NOW that lasted nine issues.

If you were looking for the unconnected Doctor Who story "The Brain Of Morbius", go here.

Tropes associated with Morbius and the comics he appears in include:

  • Aborted Arc: The Strange Tales story where Morbius goes to New Orleans to help Martine's niece. It is left on a cliffhanger too.
  • Alliterative Name: It runs in the family apparently: his father is named Makarioa Morbius. There is also the alias Morgan Michaels.
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: In his original 70's series, later got turned more into a Nineties Anti-Hero. He is fundamentally a good guy... when he's not hungry.
  • Always Save the Girl: Some of this in the earlier comics, both Martine and Amanda. He's also responsible for She-Hulk's current condition, it being the side effect of a potential cure he was going to use on himself.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: "Michael Morbius" is far from a Greek name. On at least one occasion it's questioned why his first name is not Michalis (the Greek version of Michael), the answer simply being that "[his] mother preferred Michael". As for his last name: there is no 'b' sound in modern Greek (the letter β is pronounced as a fricative and often Romanized as "v") and -ius indicates a Latin origin.
  • Bad Ass Long Coat: Michael "borrows" one from a man on the subway during his fight with Noah, and is seen wearing it later on.
  • Bad Dreams: In his first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #101-102 his backstory is retold through the nightmares he suffers, in which he keeps recounting the scientific accident and killing Emil.
  • Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: In Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
    Morbius: I borrowed this equipment from the ESU Science Department.
    Felicia Hardy: Pilfered.
    Morbius: ...Borrowed.
  • Blessed with Suck: His superhuman powers come at the cost of having an overwhelming bloodlust along with a mental desire to kill. His powers are actually dependent on the amount of blood he has ingested: he'll grown weaker the longer he goes without a "fix".
  • Blood from the Mouth: Inverted in Morbius v2 #2. Morbius coughs up blood just as the wound from a shotgun blast to the chest heals and gets back up.
  • Creepy Good
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: He is commonly drawn like this.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: His (and Doc Ock!Spider-Man)'s battle with Nikoleta Harrow is easily this, with both of them being taken out twice and Nikoleta managing to beat the hell out of Michael and leave him in a burning building before disappearing.
  • Death by Origin Story: Nikos
  • Deadpan Snarker: Shades of this in a few of his appearances, especially in the Marvel NOW! Series.
  • Delinquent Hair: Noah St. Germain, the guy at the top of the criminal world in Brownsville, has a blue mohawk.
  • Destined Bystander: In TAS Morbius appears several times before becoming a living vampire.
  • Don't Look at Me!: On occasion Morbius is shown to be pretty ashamed of his appearance, such as in Marvel Preview v1 #8 while he hides his face from his friend Ronson's daughter and wants her out before she sees him. He does this again in Morbius v1 #1 and says these exact words when he is confronted by his ex-fiancée Martine.
  • Dr. Genericius
  • Easily Forgiven: Morbius gets this treatment quite a bit. In the Franken-Castle arc, he's forgiven by the Legion of Monsters, who even keep him as their leader, after his lies regarding an Artifact of Doom not only kill thousands of monsters, but, more specifically, Manphibian's own children. This is all the more baffling given that the Punisher, a man not known for his ability to forgive, doesn't kill him after it's all said and done.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: His origin story in Amazing Spider-Man 699.1 shows he fit this trope even before becoming a living vampire, having black hair and a rather pale complexion due to his blood disease. Becoming a vampire made it more extreme.
  • Enfant Terrible: Tara
  • Evil Albino: Vic Slaughter
  • Evil Counterpart: Vic Slaughter
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: When possessed by the Lilin Bloodthirst Morbius gets even uglier than normal.
  • Evil Versus Evil: When he first showed up, he fought the Lizard as well as Spider-Man.
  • Flying Brick: Can fly and is strong.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: At times.
  • Fur Against Fang: The first couple of times Morbius the Living Vampire and Werewolf by Night's paths cross, they end up fighting, but it's not anything personal: Morbius is subject to Horror Hunger and the werewolf will attack anything that moves when it's a full moon. Over the years they grow to be best friends, although the occasional fighting is not something they get rid off entirely.
  • Genius Cripple: Before being 'cured' and turned into a vampire at least. In his rewritten origin story he won a Nobel prize but didn't attend the ceremony, because even lifting a tea cup caused the bones in his fingers to break.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Woman!: Applied to Amanda in Vampire Tales #7 though she suspects it was more because she insulted Morbius by calling him a vampire.
  • Greater Need Than Mine: Gives the cure he was going to use on himself to She-Hulk to cure her fatal blood disease.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The experiment that was supposed to counter his blood disease had some rather unfortunate side-effects.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: The soulpatch/chin tuft Morbius often sports is most commonly associated with anti-heroes.
  • Hair Color Dissonance: Especially in earlier comics Morbius' black hair is shown as blue.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Started as an anti-villain, then went to being the anti-hero, eventually got upgraded to a nineties anti-hero who constantly fought against Spider-Man yet would help people in need, unless he felt like eating them.
  • Horror Hunger: The main cause of all his struggles and his desire to undo his curse.
  • Hospital Hottie: During his stint at St. Jude's several characters think he's quite good-looking.
  • Human Shield: Morbius did this once when he faced off with the X-Men. He snatches Jean Grey and threatens to snap her neck unless Cyclops backs off. Scott just adjusts his glasses a bit and fires behind Morbius, striking a mirror and causing his eye-beams to re-direct into the vampire's back.
  • The Hunter: Morbius preys on criminals, having sworn to only drink the blood of the guilty.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: In the Ultimate universe Morbius is a true vampire and Vlad the Impaler's brother. He fights against vampires and prevents other people from being turned into them.
  • Hybrid Monster: In Marvel Zombies 3 there's a zombie version of Morbius, who calls himself a vambie.
  • I Am a Monster
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The single motivation that has remained a constant throughout all of Morbius' appearances since his introduction is the desire to undo the scientific accident that made him a living vampire and become a normal human being once more.
  • Iconic Outfit: The red and black bodysuit he originally wore as insulation against the electric shock during the experiment that transformed him.
  • In Series Nick Name: Becky refers to Michael as 'Mike' when introducing him to members of Brownsville, and seems content to stick with that much to his chagrin. Him constantly correcting her has become a bit of a Running Gag.
  • In the Hood: The first few nights in Brownsville Morbius wears a hoodie with the hood up after he's escaped the Raft and is laying low.
  • Limited Wardrobe: His black and red body suit. He's worn it for over 40 years now and though he sometimes switches things around he always goes back to it. Man must have one hell of a dry-cleaning bill.
  • Looks Like Orlok: When drawn by Tony Moore in the "Franken-Castle" arc, as well as by Paolo Rivera in Spectacular Spider-Man #14.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Lena falls in love with Morgan Michaels, but she hates Michael Morbius.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • Subverted in the Nineties Anti-Hero comic as this happens soon after Morbius has found a way to make himself human again, and thus is unable to defend himself against several robbers (but gets revenge later).
    • Played straight in other comics where people have tried to steal from a "corpse" or robbers have mistaken him as a harmless hobo.
    • Members of the Friends of Humanity attack him because they think him to be a mutant. He would likely have killed them if Spider-Man hadn't stopped him. (Then again, this is far from the first time the Friends of Humanity have made this mistake.)
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Blood-Tide, Death-Flame, Vic Slaughter...
  • The Noseless: Though he's commonly drawn as having an upturned or bat-like nose, some artists (such as Matthew Clark in Amazing Spider-Man 679.1) draw him without a nose at all.
  • Obliviously Evil: A particularly tragic example in one of Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man stories, where Morbius hides in Manhattan's sewer and makes an agreement with a community of deformed, mentally ill humans living here: he protects them against their enemies and those who reject them, and they repay him by capturing bad people from the surface for him to feed on, thus sparing him the guilt of having to decide himself who deserves to be his victim. Unfortunately for him, their limited intelligence cause them to see all people from the surface as bad people, and they end up delivering him several innocent hobos. When Spider-Man gets involved in the case and reveals him the truth, Morbius is horrified to realize he unintentionally caused innocents to kill other innocents and runs away from the community.
  • One-Man Army: Manages to take out all of Noah St. Germain's thugs as well as the people working for the Rose single-handedly.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • Besides himself being different (notice the "living vampire" moniker), he also inadvertently created another different vampire called Blade, though this was eventually retconned as Morbius' bite not having changed him at all.
    • The 90s cartoon depiction makes him even weirder by giving him myriad small, leech-like mouths in each hand, causing him to feed by grabbing hold of victims and sucking out the blood through them, instead of biting necks. It was supposed to make him more "kid friendly". Most would say it had quite the opposite effect. He spent a brief period of time as a hulking anthropomorphic bat version of himself as well.
  • Painful Transformation: In his first solo series Morbius is able to turn back into a human for short amounts of time thanks to a serum derived from Spider-Man's blood. The change from vampire to human and back is very painful, with lots of screaming involved.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Morbius uses this as a solution to slake his bloodthirst, figuring that if he needs to kill, he'll kill serious criminals.
  • Pointy Ears: He has 'em.
  • Power Palms: In Spider-Man: The Animated Series Morbius could suck people's plasma through holes on his palms.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: Though genetically he is not completely human anymore, Morbius still cares about humans a whole lot, such as when he runs a free clinic for the poor and when he defends the people of Brownsville from the criminals that run the town.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: To his defense he was running out of time and had tested at least some parts.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Introduced as a Spider-Man villain but later turned an Anti-Hero, Morbius' Iconic Outfit is red and black, as are his eyes.
  • Religion of Evil: Has battled against these more than once, which is ironic, seeing how he likes to remind people that he's a rational scientist.
  • Resist The Beast: He usually loses.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: For a time Morbius would only drink the blood of the guilty.
  • Shirtless Scene: Both the 90's series and the Marvel NOW! run have quite a few of these.
  • The Southpaw: When Morbius is shown writing on something like a clipboard in vol. 1 he does so with his left hand.
  • Staking the Loved One: Morbius staked (or caused to be staked) his ex-fiancée Martine after she became a true vampire and tried to convince him to let her turn him into one too.
  • Stock Superhero Day Jobs: Of the scientist variety. Morbius worked as a hemato(patho)logist during one of his stable periods.
  • Stock Superpowers:
  • Tattooed Crook: Noah St. German is heavily tattooed, even on his face.
  • Third-Person Person: At times, though it's not very consistent from one appearance to the next.
  • Totally Not a Werewolf: The Marvel Universe has plenty of vampires. Morbius differs from the rest by his scientific origin (combined with DNA of a vampire bat), and the fact that he is very much a living being. How much this trope applies varies depends on the writer.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: When he was engaged to Martine he wondered how he got so lucky.
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: He didn't think highly of his appearance even as a human, and turning into a vampire didn't help at all. In contrast, quite a few of the higher members of the Hell-Fire cult are handsome and beautiful.
  • Undeath Always Ends: Morbius was killed by Switchblad but not much later was resurrected as an undead being. True to his name, he reverted to being a living vampire about a year later.
  • Vampire Bites Suck
  • Vampire Vannabe: There's a club full of them and they just love Morbius, who is pretty freaked about by the idea that there are people who actually want to be vampires.
  • Vampire Vords: His accent in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Jack Russell aka Werewolf by Night.
  • Weakened by the Light: Won't turn to ashes in sunlight like a regular vampire, but will quickly suffer burns due to his extremely pale skin.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: Subverted. Martine thinks he's bought a yacht with the Nobel prize money, but it turns out it's merely a rental.
  • What Have I Become?: His exact words after having been turned into a living vampire and killing his friend Emil.
  • Who Writes This Crap?! / Self-Deprecation: In Marvel Zombies Werewolf by Night takes a jab at Morbius: "Ha! You're such a cliché. So emo all the time about the tragedy of bloodlust like some bad Twilight fanfic."
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: In Strange Tales: Blade, Morbius disguises himself as human to meet with Martine's relatives, which stretches quite a bit to Paper-Thin Disguise. Though he does wear reasonably normal clothes as opposed to his leather wear, he does nothing to his white skin, fangs, pointy ears or claws, making everyone creeped out by him. While he's not recognized as Michael Morbius, one of the family soon starts to suspect him to be a vampire and goes straight to Blade for help. Truly a Nobel-prize winning scientist at work.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The only type of prey Morbius is rarely seen to attack.
  • You Sexy Beast: Mandy certainly thinks this; she just loves the fact that Morbius is a vampire and much prefers his vampire form over his human one.

Alternative Title(s):

Morbius The Living Vampire