Amazing Spider-Man #100-102
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #100, Amazing Spider-Man #101, Amazing Spider-Man #102
After blowing off both a date with Gwen and a photo assignment from the Daily Bugle, Peter contacts Dr. Curt Connors and asks for permission to use his lab at Southampton. But when he gets there, he finds the building is already occupied by a "vampire" named Morbius.
Then Connors, curious about the request from Spider-Man, shows up as well, and promptly turns into the Lizard.
Spidey gets knocked out and then the Lizard and Morbius fight for the right to kill him. Morbius wins, and bites Lizard, but Spider-Man recovers and chases Morbius away. However, the bite causes the Lizard to somehow retain Connor's personality.
Reasoning (somehow) that Morbius' blood will both restore Connor's and remove Peter's extra arms. After an extracted search and fight, Spider-Man manages to get what he wants but Morbius apparently drowns (leading to a Roy Thomas clunker: Peter says, "Things: Somehow, we always manage to hold on to things while men sink, doomed, around us!"). The cure works, of course.
Morbius has just arrived after a sea voyage in which he killed all the seamen...
...and prior to that, his best friend. He had leukemia, and he cured himself through a combination of electricity and vampire bats.
Note also the appearance of Martine, Morbius girlfriend. She only appears in flashback here, but she'll become a recurring character.
Interesting note in Marvel Selects #2:
In creating... Morbius, Thomas and Kane also took Marvel's first modern step into the horror genre. In the 1950s comic books had been accused of causing juvenile delinquency... In response, the comics industry established the Comics Code Authority, which banned horror comics. By the early 1970s, the furor against horror comics had died, and thus Morbius debuted in 1971. Note, however, that Morbius is presented not as a "real" supernatural vampire but as a "living vampire", a human being who was mutated into a creature with attributes resembling those of a vampire.... In the following year, under a modified Comics Code, Marvel launched a line of horror comics, starting with Tomb of Dracula.
Roy Thomas is a terrible writer. His Gwen Stacy is a helpless sobbing idiot, and his writing is just sooooo melodramatic.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #251, Marvel Selects: Spider-Man #2, Marvel Selects: Spider-Man #3
Inbound References (19): show
Roy Thomas has said in interviews that he didn't want to write this title(he's never liked Spider-Man that much)and only did so because Stan requested it.
The extra-large issue(#102) is that way because publisher Martin Goodman decided to pull a fast one on DC. He increased the size of the books with more original material for 25 cents, and DC quickly followed suit, but with reprints. After one issue of each title(two for some, and zero for others) Goodman switched again and went to standard size, but for a 20 cent price. DC took months to counter this, so comics fans ended up giving Marvel's 20-cent books the leading market share from DC's reprint-filled 25-centers. This was the first time Marvel took the sales lead from DC, and DC spent several years sputtering and scrambling trying to reclaim it.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 13, 2011 4:57 PM
According to John Romita in Back Issue #69, Gil Kane's initial sketch gave Spider-Man 4 arms and 4 legs.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 7, 2013 4:28 PM
Wow you despise Roy Thomas about as much as I despise Gil Kane. The shadings under the nose trademark, the funky angles, the opposing arms punching across each other in fight scenes looking as twisted as a pretzel. And giving Spidey that much more arms, it was just a tangled mess in some panels. Wish Romita would've drawn these.
Actually I don't remember Roy as being a terrible writer, your examples here have some merit, but if I were to see more references who knows I would probably end up agreeing.
Posted by: Mike | June 29, 2014 8:54 PM
Part of how this issue helped shift CCA policy was that Marvel argued that some horror characters had a literary pedigree; this is why the initial horror series are Dracula and the Monster of Frankenstein. Here, Morbius's arrival on a ship of the dead is taken from the Tod Browning Dracula film and its unlicensed predecessor, Nosferatu.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 3, 2015 9:06 AM
Gil Kane stated in Comics Journal #186 that he based Morbius on Jack Palance, but I'm not really seeing it.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 27, 2016 10:44 AM
Dracula also arrived on a ship of the dead in Bram Stoker's novel itself.
Posted by: Mortificator | February 29, 2016 7:12 PM
Roy Thomas tried to be more "literate" (relatively speaking)than Stan & Co. Sometimes, the result was impressive (Avengers #57-58 with the Vision; his X-Men run with Neal Adams). More often, it comes across as pretentious. Your mileage may vary, I suppose. I was happy to see Stan back on the title with #105.
Posted by: haydn | March 30, 2016 3:52 PM
When Roy Thomas took over this book, Peter's running monologue immediately became 100% more annoying.
Posted by: Mortificator | April 3, 2016 12:44 AM
I just realized Morbius is right up Gil Kane's alley. Here's a guy where no matter what angle you can see up his nostrils.
Posted by: david banes | June 8, 2016 12:50 AM
In Comics Journal #222, John Romita claims that the extra-limbed Spider-Man was his idea. He also states that Gil Kane would plot issues with Stan Lee and sometimes co-plot with Romita, but he didn't specify which issues(presumably #100 was one of them).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 11, 2016 11:47 AM
Indeedie; according to Comic Book Artist #6 (which I found linked through this site!), Jazzy Johnny initially gave Pete an extra set of legs! Oh, sorry, Mark already made this observation from another interview.
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | July 11, 2016 5:02 PM
I'm pretty sure I've seen Roy Thomas deny in interviews that Morbius was intended to skirt the Comics Code restrictions, which apparently were getting loosened up anyway. Thomas, of course, also created a pseudo-vampire in X-Men, Sauron, and he's said that wasn't about the Comics Code either. Maybe he thought these pseudo-scientific twists on vampirism just worked better in Marvel's universe, which is much more grounded in science fiction than gothic horror?
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 12, 2016 6:37 PM
I think Morbius just emerged at more or less the right time for him to begin to thrive in this universe. May of 1971 was both the beginning of the "Spider-Man Drug Issues" and, at the same time, the first appearance of Man-Thing. Once that happens and then Morbius, it isn't too long before we get the real push of the horror content in '72 (Werewolf by Night, early mutated furry Beast, Tomb of Dracula, etc.) You can't say Morbius was made to specifically go along with the new freedom, but he was just there as it was starting to loosen up.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 13, 2016 8:13 AM
I recall picking up this story arc off the local Kroger magazine rack collected in the oversized Marvel Treasury Edition format when I was a boy. The extra-sized pages further accentuated Kane's signature art style. I had seen Morbius once before in Marvel Two-in-One #17 which paired him with the Thing against the Living Eraser, so I picked up this origin story out of curiosity. Gil Kane was the perfect artist for the character's conception. Although I think a better name for him would have been "Nostril-Feratu".:-)
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 27, 2017 10:58 PM
Nose-feratu. Yeah, I had that Treasury Edition as a kid too. Six arms and a vampire! It blew my mind. The story doesn't hold up so well anymore, but the art sure is nice.
Posted by: Andrew | September 28, 2017 6:01 PM
@Andrew- The sight of Peter with six arms was pretty neat. Today, the references to impressionist David Frye, the controversial Swedish film "I Am Curious (Yellow), and the novelty of having the girlfriend (Gwen obviously in this case) pick out an R-rated movie for date night will go over another generation's heads. Before I discovered the comic shop, my go-to for books was the 7-11 spinner rack since it was so close to home. For Treasury Editions or mags like DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG-FU, Kroger's magazine section was the old standby. God, I can't believe how long that's been!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | September 28, 2017 6:45 PM
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