Morbius the Living Vampire technically isn’t a REAL vampire – meaning his bite can do more than turn Marvel characters into one of the undead.
Morbius the Living Vampire occupies a strange place in Marvel history. Created during a time when the Comics Code Authority forbid comics creators from showing supernatural characters like vampires in comic books, Morbius represented a weird compromise.
Instead of being a supernatural being, Morbius was expressly designed to be a scientifically-created vampire and not created by supernatural (and possibly satanic) forces. While the difference seems rather laughable now, it did mean Morbius came with some odd powers from his scientific origins. One of his weirdest? His bite didn’t always turn people into vampires. Sometimes, it did much weirder things to his victims.
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Spider-Man and his supporting cast discovered this in The Amazing Spider-Man #101-102, which presented the origin of Michael Morbius. Originally a Nobel-winning biochemist, Morbius used his genius to try and cure his own rare blood disease by distilling certain essences from vampire bats. When this didn’t result in a complete cure, Morbius subjected himself to electroshock therapy, which interacted with the vampire bat chemicals already in his blood and transformed him into a “pseudo vampire.”
In this form, Morbius had chalk-white skin, fangs, and hollow bones. He also had superhuman strength, speed, the ability to glide on air currents, and an overpowering thirst for blood. Not being a “true” vampire, Morbius would not burst into flames when he saw the sun (although he grew very weak in the daytime). He also couldn’t shapeshift or turn into mist like “true” vampires – although the powers he did have made him dangerous enough, as the crew of the ship that picked him up found out when he killed them all one night and then took off – landing near the seaside laboratory of one Curt Connors.
As luck would have it, Morbius approached the lab at the same time Spider-Man had commandeered the facility to deal with a unique problem of his own. After trying to get rid of his spider-powers with a serum, Peter Parker accidentally ended up growing four extra arms, becoming more of a spider than a man. Hoping he could come up with an antidote, Spider-Man got Connors’ permission to use his lab but couldn’t find a solution to his problem. At that moment, Morbius leapt out of the shadows, ready to add spider-blood to his dinner menu.
Fortunately for Spidey, Dr. Connors arrived at his house and faced off against Morbius. The stress caused Connors to transform into his alter ego the Lizard, but Morbius easily defeated him and bit his neck before escaping. In the aftermath, Spidey discovered something very strange – Morbius’ bite transformed the Lizard not into a vampire, but a human-lizard hybrid that looked like a one-armed Connors covered in scales. He then turned back into the Lizard but retained Connors’ mind. Realizing that Morbius’ bite must inject his victims with a special enzyme, Spidey and the new Lizard decided to track down Morbius and see if the pseudo-vampire’s blood could cure them both.
Luck turned out to be with both men as they came up with a serum that cured Spidey of his extra arms and Connors of his Lizard problem once they mixed in some drops of Morbius’ blood (with the special enzyme). Unfortunately, the serum poisoned Spider-Man’s blood and nearly killed him, forcing him to track down Morbius (who was now biting people and turning them into pseudo-vampires like himself). Since that time, Morbius has developed more vampire-like traits, but for a time his “scientific” origins made him a vampire whose bite was truly unpredictable!
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