Morbius novel cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

As each new superhero gets his showcase in Marvel movies, we’re getting more and more lesser known characters pulled from the history of Marvel Comics to meet on the big screen.  As we stray away from the actual superhero headliners, the obscure come to the fore.  Probably the best of the darker, horror comics can be found in DC Comics, members of Justice League Dark, in recent years including Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Deadman, Madame Xanadu, and Shade.  But it’s the feel of JLD you’ll find in Brendan Daneen’s Morbius, The Living Vampire: Blood Ties, a new novel in the Titan Books library of novel adaptations of Marvel Comics.  Taking place after the origin story of Marvel’s take on a “bat-man,” to be adapted in the pandemic-delayed, big-screen debut of Marvel’s latest monstrosity Morbius starring Jared Leto, this story gives an accounting of that “living vampire” first created 50 years ago in the pages of Spider-Man comics by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane.

The closest character readers may have seen to Morbius is Brandon Lee’s Crow, and that doomed character’s seemingly hopeless, violent dark story of loss and violence.  Morbius’s origin is a combination of a Frankenstein-esque creation and the retread botched lab experiments Stan Lee & Co. duplicated with subtle twists so many times for characters from Hulk to Spider-Man to Deadpool.  Not merely macabre, Morbius’s story overlaps with the occult, Satanists, and cultists, content making the subject something to challenge how Disney will adapt it for its wider audience.  But it’s also smack dab in the realm of the movies (and comics) we’ve seen and will see from Sony Pictures featuring Tom Hardy’s Venom and Carnage, who will be played by Woody Harrelson in Venom: Let There Be Carnage this September.

adventureintofear27 Morbius pic d

Morbius kills and drinks blood, and lacks the innocence of Venom’s protagonist Eddie Brock.  This is a villain, not sympathetic like the vampire in Let Me In, but it shares the sympathetic support characters of that film.  He’s not a caregiver like Angel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but mistreats everyone around him.  He sulks and is easily manipulated, making him a vampire closer to the Twilight set.  He’s also written far from charismatic, but gruesome and repellent, so not the vampire type you might find leading a Kim Newman novel.  Morbius has a choice, and chooses to live on despite needing to kill others for their blood (like Eddie Brock said, these are bad guys so it’s not supposed to matter) making him difficult to care about as a protagonist.  To fill that void, readers meet Amanda Saint, who has strayed into a world of betrayal and horror, tagging along to Morbius’s weird world in part because of the cult her family became immersed in.

Deneen’s story is quite brief as to the action taking place in the present, with most of the book told in flashback commentary to provide the reader with key points of his and Amanda’s backstory.  But the novel does provide readers who haven’t heard of the character with an introduction as the movie premiere approaches.  Morbius will share an expanded Marvel universe with Venom and Carnage, and fans of I, Frankenstein and Hellboy may find common ground here.  It doesn’t seem likely Morbius will cross paths of the other strange part of Marvel, the Doctor Strange movie and forthcoming sequel, but you never know.

It’s been a year since we first saw the trailer for the movie, so here it is again:

It’s a journey into the dark side of the Marvel universe.  Morbius, The Living Vampire: Blood Ties is now available here at Amazon, a new hardcover release from Titan Books.  Morbius, the movie, is scheduled for a theatrical release January 28, 2022.