With a mighty slap the "Monster Called...Morbius!" arrived on the Marvel in Amazing Spider-Man #101 and with him came a veritable avalanche of other creatures of the night hustling for attention and titles as Marvel moved fully into the Bronze Age after the departure of Jack "King" Kirby.
In this comic we meet a vampire of sorts, a "living" one created by dint of science but who in most other ways appears like the vaunted creatures of myth which had been denied access to the four-color page for a few decades thanks to the Comics Code, a Code which had recently undergone revision thanks in no small part to the pioneering work of Stan Lee and Gil Kane who had presented in Spider-Man a drug story. Now we were getting some somewhat different concepts. Roy Thomas had taken over the writing for Lee on Spidey, as he'd done on Fantastic Four and his first tale introduces Morbius.
The story picks up from the hundredth issue which climaxed with the revelation that Peter Parker in a vain attempt to get rid of his Spider powers instead had boosted them resulting in two extra sets of arms giving him a very arachnid eight limb total. His desire to undo this powers the story as he calls Curt Connors, the Lizard for help and is directed to a beach home the scientist has. Cut to the sea where a ship is under assault from a demonic force, specifically Morbius who attacks and kills the entire crew before flying off to find further sustenance. He finds the house Spidey is in and the fracas is on. Later Conners appears and joins the fracas.
The battle unfolds in the next issue a most propitious moment when Marvel for a single month had larger-than-normal comics. The experiment gave plenty of room for Spidey to battle Morbius, contend with the Lizard and heal himself. It's a beautifully drawn story by Gil Kane who was at the height of his powers on this run of Spidey.
Morbius turns up a few years later in Marvel Team-Up in a two-part tale co-starring the Human Torch and then the X-Men (who had recently lost their title). The story this time is by Gerry Conway and the art in the first half by Ross Andru with Gil Kane returning to one of his best designs in the second half. Morbius and the assembled heroes all seek a particular scientist who might be able to cure the vampiric affliction which Morbius suffers. His girlfriend Martine shows up to stir the pot and the story ends with Morbius in the care of Professor X.
Several months later we get yet another Marvel Universe monster, when John Jameson the son of J.Jonah Jameson and an astronaut suffers a rare malady which causes him to become a uniquely colored werewolf who goes by the nom-de-fur of "Man-Wolf". There would be much much more revealed about the Man-Wolf but in the beginning he was just an above average werewolf.
In the throes of the monster mayhem which crawled across the Marvel Universe in the early 70's came Giant-Size Superheroes (soon to become Giant-Size Spider-Man) and in this one Spidey took on both Morbius and Man-Wolf, the team dominated by Morbius who used the Man-Wolf (in the grand tradition) as his assistant.
By this time Morbius had his own series in Vampire Tales and in Adventures in Fear and Man-Wolf would have a series soon himself in Creatures on the Loose.
But they were just a couple of the great monster characters that Marvel dropped on us back then. This month I want to take a look at some of the more unusual. Also expect an issue by issue close analysis of the black and white magazine Vampire Tales. At the same time on the weekends look out for giant monsters to rule as Godzilla and his ilk lumber around. Giants will be featured in the Favorite Cover slot too. Plus other creatures and whatnot! All in all, it should be an exceedingly monster-filled October here at the Dojo!
Let the Countdown to Halloween begin!