Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review- Morbius The Living Vampire No. 1

Morbius The Living Vampire No. 1 (Marvel, cover date March, 2013)
Writer: Joe Keatinge
Artist: Richard Elson
The gist (with minor spoilers)- Morbius recently escaped from the Raft (a prison for super-villains) and is on the run. He relocates to Brownsville, a ghetto not unlike sections of Detroit or Flint. In other words, a completely lawless badlands. Several days after he arrives, Morbius witnesses a woman named Wanda being harassed by a local criminal element named St. Germain. No background is given on him, only that he is a scumbag, and no motive is given for Morbius to lock horns with him other than this Wanda reminds him of his mother. That's the condensed soup version of the plot. It's a little on the thin side but I found it extremely enjoyable nonetheless. 
Page 1.
Eliminating the two blacked out pages with the one line on it could've added some heft to the story and allowed Keatinge to better recap the scenario for new readers. This is by and large new reader friendly in that it establishes the character but doesn't delve too deeply into his history. There isn't a whole lot of rhyme or reason given for Morbius doing what he does other than a) he tries to resist drinking the blood of innocents, b) he is filled with regret over his actions, and c) he is trying to act responsibly.
2 of the 22 pages of story are taken up by this dead space black page, which I consider to be a complete waste of space. This is my only gripe with this issue, and it hopefully will not be the norm throughout the series, as it will get old fast. Keatinge's writing is otherwise enjoyable if brisk, and his and artist Richard Elson's layouts and pacing are contemporary and keep this from becoming a dated, nostalgic affair. I am pleased with the writing and the artwork, as it is fresh yet in a traditional vein. In other words, longtime fans will not feel alienated and modern readers won't be turned off. Antonio Fabela's coloring is tasteful as well. Judging by this lone issue, this series has the potential to be the best take on the character since the Bronze Age. 
The characterization of Morbius is slightly updated in the way that he speaks. I was waiting for him to utter the phrase “to slake my thirst”, but no dice. Morbius' origin is briefly touched upon, but I can't help but think that the story in Amazing Spider-Man No. 699.1 should have been combined with this issue for a double-sized first issue. Then again, a new Morbius series is a tough sell in a crowded market as is, so a $4.99 or $5.99 price point wouldn't do the series any favors.
This series marks the first time that I will be following a series in the periodical format since 1989. I have been a wait for the trade kind of guy since I returned to this hobby a decade ago, but I realize that a series like this probably won't make it and every single issue sold counts. So I am willingly going to double dip, buying both the floppies and the collected editions. Such is my love for this character. Long live The Living Vampire! Morbius has risen!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I'm not crazy about these “self covers”, where the cover is the same paper grade as the interior pages. It is a cost save but it is not to my liking at all. There is an Marvel AR app that goes with these Marvel NOW! Comics. I guess that you scan the page with your phone and it unlocks bonus content. I tried downloading it on my Android but it was taking forever so I said f--- it. Maybe some other time.

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