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Marvel NOW!

Tuesday Q&A: Joe Keatinge

The writer of Morbius previews the future for the Living Vampire, including a visit from Spider-Man!

Morbius: The Living Vampire #5 preview inks by Rich Elson

By Jim Beard

With June’s MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE #6, writer Joe Keatinge begins a new storyline that will not only set Michael Morbius on the track of a cure for his vampirism, but also examine the fine line between a hero and a villain.

Keatinge’s already built a world all his own in MORBIUS and swiftly crafted an ongoing tale that’s garnered acclaim from readers. Morbius now stands ready to investigate just what it’ll take to return to a normal life—or as normal a life a former Living Vampire could lead.

Such heady questions put us in mind to ask the writer what he’s got planned for the next few issues and what the character of Morbius really means to him.

Marvel.com, Joe, thematically, what will be the connective tissue between MORBIUS’ first arc and the new story, “Cure Everything”?

Joe Keatinge:
 The theme to my entire run is identity, as filtered through Michael Morbius, as reflected in those around him, in the city he dwells in, in those who would exploit and end him. Are you the result of the experiences you've had? Can you truly overcome your nature or will the sides of yourself you would rather forget always be there? Can you ever out run your past?

Our first arc, “Man Called Morbius,” set the stage, withholding the aspects of his personality we're most familiar with: Morbius as monster, Morbius as scientist. Everything he had was taken away through the process of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699.1 and Dan Slott's Morbius arc preceding it. As our series begins, Michael has nothing familiar. Nothing to cling onto. We began at an absolute zero point.

Morbius: The Living Vampire #5 preview inks by Rich Elson

Marvel.com: Something comes his way then, right?

Joe Keatinge:
 In “Cure Everything,” Morbius receives an offer to reproach his life as a scientist in exchange for helping Horizon. A chance to make good again; a chance to gain something he desires back. When you lose everything, you'll likely go through desperate measures to gain it back. In the following arc, “The World Breaks Everyone,” another opportunity is presented, one which may leave him in a worse place than when the series began and no matter how it pans out, it will certainly place him in a drastically different position [from] when I came on board.

Marvel.com: How much of an impact will the Battle of Brownsville play going forward? What are its greatest ramifications for Morbius?

Joe Keatinge:
 Morbius' role in Brownsville and life in general is going to radically shift by the end of issue #5. The battle itself is ultimately secondary to its effects. Where it places him, where he'll go from there, that's what's most important. As I've said in other places, MORBIUS #4 and #5 will prove to be the “nexus” of my run. Where the series started and where it will go are largely defined by those two issues, in ways which may not be evident until all is said and done.

Marvel.com: Likewise, what sort of role will Horizon Labs play in the new arc? Why is
 this the moment when Morbius wants to find a cure?

Joe Keatinge:
 Horizon Labs is on page one, panel one of the new arc and is where the bulk of the first issue takes place. I don't want to get too much into why now is the opportune time for Morbius to seek a cure, but it'll become evident very quickly.

Morbius: The Living Vampire #6 cover by David Lopez

Marvel.com: Well, what would Morbius do with his life if he were cured?

Joe Keatinge:
 I firmly believe he has no idea. Furthermore, I don't believe he even thinks all that much about what would happen if he was cured. I think he's more obsessed with the goal than the repercussion, which goes for pretty much everything else in his life. His lack of forethought is what results in so much going so horribly wrong with such regularity.

Marvel.com: How does the Superior Spider-Man see Morbius? Hero? Villain? Freak? Or worse than that?

Joe Keatinge:
 Otto looks at virtually everybody who's not him as under him, as lesser than. However, as MORBIUS #6 and #7 go on, we're going to see the Spider-Man/Morbius dynamic develop in a very different way than it ever has. Morbius is probably the closest thing Otto's encountered in terms of having a kindred spirit, someone he can emphasize with. Going into #6, he won't know what to make of Morbius, but by the end of #7, we'll see something completely different.

Marvel.com: What will your artist, Valentine De Landro, bring to this story, in your opinion?

Joe Keatinge:
 Valentine De Landro will bring Valentine De Landro. He has a great ability to shift between a noir look to a [pulpier] feel to something more traditionally Marvel in terms of excitement level without resembling much which has come before. Our collaboration on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699.1 was an ideal experience and since we're at the point in the series where a lot of the seeds planted in that particular issue are finally coming to fruition, it made a lot of sense to bring him back.

Morbius: The Living Vampire #7 cover by David Lopez

Marvel.com: Joe, what's the single greatest joy for you in writing this book?

Joe Keatinge:
 Like Ross Campbell and I did with Glory, I'm looking forward to telling a finite story with a character who traditionally doesn't get a lot of love and taking them through something entirely different than what they've experienced before and taking them somewhere new. I'm far enough ahead in terms of what I'm currently writing that the light's at the end of the tunnel and I'm looking forward to bringing my run full circle.

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