By Tim Stevens
Come January, make a resolution to pick up the new MORBIUS ongoing series written by Joe Keatinge and drawn by Rich Elson.
Before issue #1, however, fans can get their first taste of the Living Vampire’s new adventures in December with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699.1.
“AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #699.1 is essentially MORBIUS #0,” asserts Keatinge. “If you've never read a Morbius comic book before, ASM #699.1 gets you up to date on absolutely everything there is to know about him. It takes him from where Dan Slott and company took him to and sets him on the course of everything Rich and I have in store.”
Slinking off those pages and the recent “No Turning Back” storyline in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, the good doctor with a taste for plasma finds himself with a fresher, sharper pang of guilt than he has experienced in years for both his grave robbing attempts to find himself a cure and the actions The Lizard manipulated him to.
“He's not over the guilt, that's for sure,” the writer indicates. “He's a guy very much crippled by it. How he gets through that is a major thrust of our initial arc.
“Every goal [Morbius] has is ultimately focused on redemption and atonement. Curing himself is definitely part of that. We're giving him an opportunity to do just that, but given his history you can bet it's not going to go well.”
This sense that even the Living Vampire’s best, most altruistic efforts cause pain and mayhem proves integral to Keatinge’s interpretation of the character.
“Morbius boils down to tragedy,” the writer argues. “He's a guy who desperately wants to do right—he won a Nobel Peace Prize!—but everything always just goes so horribly wrong. A lot of people die in the wake of him trying to do the well by the world. There’s a lot of tragedy in our story.
Meanwhile, artist Rich Elson finds strong inspiration for his depiction of Morbius beyond the comic book pages, including films like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Exorcist,” and “Let the Right One In,” the Resident Evil video game series, horror movie and video game soundtracks, and the art of Goya:
“Goya's Los Caprichos are some of my favorite pieces from art history and I'll be getting out my copies of those, and his late Black Paintings.”
“I think I'll paint my room black, install UV lighting and buy a skull necklace and a pet crow too,” he jokingly adds.
Overall, Elson sees himself as the surest indication that his work on the title hits the mark.
“I do think that atmosphere, timing and playing with perception/perspective are essential to creating successful horror in any medium,” he explains. “My aim is to make Joe's stories as dramatic and visually compelling as I can. If the script calls for scares, I want to draw something that scares me; if the script calls for action, I want to draw something that thrills me. Hopefully that will make the ride fun for all of the readers, too.”
Keatinge and Elson seek to ground the book in oft-ignored locales in the Marvel Universe to increase the surprise of the ride as well.
“Morbius' adventures will lead us to explore new, unexpected and interesting areas of the character and his environment,” Elson says. “I know Joe's thinking about some interesting locations to set stories in down the line and I have a few ideas of places that make me feel a little uncomfortable so hopefully we'll get the chance to explore the breadth of Morbius' world both internally and externally.”
“We're putting him in a setting he's never been before—he's seeing a side of the Marvel Universe no one’s ever explored before,” Keatinge cryptically elaborates. “A side consisting of people too odd and disturbing for even the X-Men. I don't want to say too much about them just yet, but Morbius will find he has a lot in common with a lot of people, which probably means they shouldn't have met. This is definitely taking him in some very different directions, but the core of the character will be true to who he is.”
Elson pledges, “If this comic turns out to be half as good as the one I see in my head, it's going to be amazing!”
For more coverage of Fan Expo Canada, stay tuned to the official Marvel hub page all weekend long