Who the Clix? is a series of articles featuring information on comic book characters that have been made into figures for the popular tabletop game Heroclix. These articles are meant to help Heroclix players learn more about the characters behind their favorite pieces.
I’m not saying the thing, deal with it: Morbius, the Living Vampire
Appearances in Heroclix: Earth X, Guardians of the Galaxy, Amazing Spider-Man, Secret Invasion
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #101 (October 1971)
Team Affiliations: Midnight Sons, Legion of Monsters, S.H.I.E.L.D.
Powers/Abilities: Genius-level intellect; Hematologist, biochemist, radiologist, authority on superhuman mutation; Superhuman strength, stamina, resiliency, reflexes, healing, and senses; Gliding; Hypnotism; Ageless
Created by: Roy Thomas – Gil Kane
Michael Alexander Morbius is born in Greece. Raised by his single mother, his childhood is largely isolated due to a rate and potentially fatal blood condition. He has only one friend during this entire time, Emil Nikos, a fell young boy that is interested in medicine and science. This passion and time combine as Michael grows up to form a gifted scientist who wins a Nobel Prize as well as becoming an expert biochemist and biologist, specializing in hematology. Emil joins him as his research assistant and Martine Bancroft becomes Michael’s office assistant, with Michael and Martine eventually falling in love.
Finally having found a life worth living, Michael attempts a radical cure for his disease. He combines chemicals, vampire bat DNA and electroshock therapy into a combination that actually cures him. Unfortunately, it does so at an incredible cost: Morbius is mutated into a “living vampire.” While he is still clinically alive, he must continue to feed on fresh blood to keep his disease in remission. He also suffers from incredible mood swings combined with fascinating enhanced powers. The first victim of these mood swings is his life long friend Emil. As Morbius comes to his senses, he is horried and decides to flee his home for New York City where he can research his new condition in secret.
While in New York, Morbius meets the Lizard and Spider-Man, during a time when the wall crawler has mutated and grown additional limbs. Samples of Morbius’ blood actually cause the Lizard to revert to Curt Connors and cause Spider-Man’s limbs to fade as well. While studying Morbius’ “miracle” blood, they learn that when his victims don’t die they turn into a weaker form of Morbius’ own mutation. Martine, who has come for her fiancee, and Morbius work together to synthesize a cure for these other vampires. They try to use this to cure Morbius to no avail. The failure sends Morbius into a rage and he feeds on Martine, turning her into a vampire as well. They eventually cure her but the attack leaves Morbius unsure of himself and he flees rather than place Martine in danger again.
Morbius moves constantly to avoid capture which brings him into contact with heroes and villains as well as Spider-Man. Morbius continues to cure those that he unwittingly turns into vampires as well as trying to cure himself but is only met with failure and tragedy after failure and tragedy. Eventually, Morbius battles Spider-Man and is able to drink some of the hero’s blood. Almost instantly, by chance, Morbius is also struck by lightning.
When Morbius awakens, he finds that not only has he survived the strike unscathed, he is human once again. All his powers are gone with his blood hunger and his disease has returned. While Morbius attempts to find a more stable cure, he is put on trial for his crimes as the Living Vampire. Jennifer Walters represents him and in their time together, he learns of her double life as She-Hulk. Morbius creates a treatment for her that allows Jennifer to control her transformations. Jen argues that Morbius’ medical condition left him in no state to be accountable for his crimes and provides proof that he often cured his victims. Due to this, Morbius is convinced of involuntary manslaughter rather than murder.
Over the next few years, Morbius uses his time and knowledge to continue to research a cure while helping those in the hero community. He becomes very close with the werewolf Jack Russell. Morbius even helps the Avengers on a case. Eventually, however, his mutation returns and he is again a Living Vampire. Morbius, alongside Hannibal King, are the only “vampires” that survive a spell by Doctor Strange that banishes undead Vampires from this dimension.
Morbius eventually confines himself to the sewers of New York City, ashamed of his failure to cure himself. He finds a community of underground people that offer to help him in exchange for protection. These people bring him “bad ones” for him to feed on which Morbius believes means his victims are violent criminals. Spider-Man finds Morbius and accuses him of becoming a serial killer which is when they both learn that the underground consider everyone that lives on the surface to be a “bad one.” Realizing that he has been murdering innocent people, Morbius retreats deeper into the sewers and depression.
Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch soon after learn that Lilith, the Mother of all Demons, has returned to Earth. Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch, has a vision of a team of Midnight Sons that can oppose Lilith. Among them is Morbius, who the pair track down with hopes that they can stabilize his mutation. Through a potential double cross, Morbius is mostly cured. While he still needs to feed on fresh blood his mood swings have subdued and he no longer experiences blood lust. He promises the Midnight Sons that he will only feed on the guilty, though the vampire hunters in the group do not easily believe him. This new mutation also has an effect on his victims. If he drains more blood but leaves them alive, they are more likely to transform into stronger vampires. He learns this lesson harshly from a villain.
Morbius continues to aid the Midnight Sons as well as aiding his old foe Spider-Man during the Carnage family’s killing spree. Blade is magically corrupted and kills Morbius, among others. However, when the spell is removed, all of Blade’s victims are resurrected.
Morbius eventually learns, with the help of Dr. Paine, that his blood disease is still slowly killing him. Morbius works with another friend, Jacob Weisenthal to create a serum from Spider-Man’s blood. This serum has the side effect of transforming Morbius into his human self without the damaging effects of his disease for hours at a time. He is able to attain a position as a hematologist under an assumed name at St. Jude’s hospital. This allows him to help people, continue to research his condition, and feed on donated blood to avoid having to attack actual humans. This is not sustainable forever, however, and Morbius again tries to fully cure himself. These efforts fail, however.
Due to manipulation by the Lilin, Martine is resurrected in an undead state. She moves in with Morbius but is being driven insane by her new “half-life.” The two half a massive falling out that results in Martine throwing herself out of a window (a fall she survives) and then renting a nearby apartment so she can spy on Morbius. Morbius doubts that his victims are truly guilty and attempts to starve himself to death. Jack Russell tries to stop his friend but is unsuccessful. Morbius burns in the sunlight as Jacob applies the newest “cure” to no avail. Jack, Jacob and the Midnight Sons arrange for a midnight funeral for their friend. However, at midnight, Morbius suddenly rises from his grave in a seemingly healthier state than before.
Soon after, however, Morbius learns that he has actually reverted back into more of a monster. When he needs to feed, he blacks out and attacks whoever is nearest to him. Though he is able to move freely in the day as a normal human, the cost is too high in his mind. He resumes the fugitive lifestyle, unable to trust himself around normal people for any length of time. When the Superhuman Registration Act is passed, Morbius submits himself to SHIELD authority and helps them try to capture Blade. He even helps fend off the Zombie invasion from Earth-2149. Morbius forms a new Midnight Sons and helps Man-Thing revive the Punisher as the undead Franken-Castle.
Morbius steals some of Spider-Man’s blood in an attempt to cure Jack Russell. Martine tells Spider-Man that Morbius is behind the theft and help the hero find Morbius. Once there, Martine offers to kill Spider-Man as a statement of love for Morbius. Once again in possession of his moral faculties, Morbius refuses the offer of his former love and kills her with a stake through the heart. Spider-Man is shocked by the events and offers to donate more blood, once he learns why Morbius needs it.
Morbius joins Horizon Labs and is allowed to work in secret until the events of Spider-Island. He is confronted by authorities and taken to the Raft but soon escapes and acts as local guardian to Brownsville. While there, he battles the Rose and befriends Bucky Barnes. Morbius fights alongside Domino, Diamondback, Outlaw, Wasp and Man-Wolf on two separate adventures that involve vampire cults trying to abduct or kill him. Morbius opposes the cult of Knull before being hunted by the sister of his childhood friend. Morbius then meets Emil’s son Christos, who also suffers from a rare blood disease and hopes that Morbius can cure him. Morbius cannot and his friend’s son dies.
Morbius fights Ben Reilly before obtaining a sample of Ben’s blood. He then learns that Spider-Man’s blood will no longer work as even a temporary cure. The Beyond Corporation then creates a clone that combines Morbius with the Lizard and calls it Creature Z. Morbius allies with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing to destroy Creature Z with Morbius’ blood.