This week the blood-thirsty Michael Morbius darkens Spider-Man’s door once again in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #699.1. As if Doctor Octopus’s meddling weren’t enough, the living vampire is hurting for hemoglobin in Spidey’s backyard. Of course, this encounter is merely an appetizer for January’s Morbius #1, the start of an all new ongoing by writer Joe Keatinge.
We spoke to Keatinge about all the pangs and fangs he has in store for 2013.
iFanboy: Let’s talk bloodlust. How bad is Morbius’ itch at this stage in his condition?
Joe Keatinge: He’s hurting in a bad, bad way. His bloodlust as addiction is a major part of this series. He wants to deal with it, he wants to cure his vampiric condition, but Morbius is a guy who makes Peter Parker look like the luckiest person in the Marvel Universe. For him, with great power comes horrible consequence. It’s not easy being Michael Morbius.
iF: There’s always going to be a connection between Morbius and Spider-Man. How do they feel about each other at the end of the day? Is it the same kind of relationship Pete has with, say, the Lizard or…geez, he has a lot of complex relationships with doomed scientists, doesn’t he?
JK: Peter really dislikes Morbius. As folks saw in 699, he completely distrusts him. I think Morbius wishes they could be pals, brothers-in-science. I think with the Lizard, Peter feels a lot of empathy there. He just thinks Morbius is a bad dude.
iF: So, pretty soon Morbius is going to come into his own with a new book and a new aesthetic, really. Does his new look mirror the tone of the series?
JK: People sure seem to be hooked on this hoodie he was wearing in a promo image, but yeah, that’s not going to last all that long. He is getting a bit of a more modern look, but it plays into the story. He’s a guy on the run. He doesn’t have a lot of time to get a costume manufactured. A lot of the clothes he’s wearing he either finds, steals or is given. It’s costume through found object.
iF: What aspects of the character, or of vampires in general, do you want to avoid or reconfigure? What do you want to add to the mythos?
JK: I get into this in the first six pages of Morbius: The Living Vampire #1. There are already a million vampire books, movies, TV shows and even some comics out there. Our take on Morbius is completely different. A big distinguishing point is the fact he didn’t become a vampire through traditional means. He wasn’t bitten. He can’t turn into mist. Sure, a stake through the heart would kill him, but I’m pretty sure that will kill anything other than a zombie or something without a heart, like Spawn.
iF: How would Morbius fair in a battle royale with some other popular vampires? Dracula? Blade? Lestat? Spike and Angel? The creepy Swedish eunuch one from Let the Right One In? Count Chocula? Any of the sparkly buggers?
JK: Morbius could beat the shit out of Count Chocula.
iF: Back to the book now. What kind of threats can we expect moving forward, aside from our (anti)hero’s ongoing struggle to curve the cravings for jugular juice? Street level? Arcane?
JK: It’s definitely more of a street level book, in terms of setting and threat. A lot of it comes out of the horrors that exist in the every day world. I think people can be a lot more horrifying than, say, Dracula.
iF: Is this a guy we’re going to like? How important or unimportant a consideration is that? What’s the kernel of it for you as a writer?
JK: I think Morbius is certainly relatable to anybody, if not likable. He wants to do right. He wants to do the noble thing, but he constantly screws up. His luck is pretty horrible. He is aware this isn’t just circumstance, there’s something in him that keeps leading to these awful situations. And if he can’t stop it, if he can’t cure it, he’s willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for it all to stop.