“He sleeps the sleep of the dead—but he is alive!”
Morbius is a troubled vampire if we’ve ever seen one. Not only does he not want to be a vampire, he also feels responsible both for becoming a vampire (the unintended consequence of an attempt to cure his rare blood disease) and for the death of his assistant and friend Emil Nikos (who was unfortunately present at the time). Because of the circumstances around Emil’s death, Morbius feels responsible for watching over Emil’s teenage son, Christos, who is also suffering from—you guessed it—a rare blood disease. The Marvel One Shot issue Morbius: Bond Of Blood follows Morbius as he tries to track down a cure for Christos and deal with his own guilt about the nature of Emil’s death.
Yes, everything that happens in the book may seem wildly coincidental, but that plays into the charm of this Morbius One Shot, which draws a lot of its flair from the comics of the ’70s and ’80s. The issue is a fun introduction for new readers and a cool callback for old fans, explaining all of the important bits of Morbius’ background, introducing a new drama, and resolving it all within the course of the issue.
Following the manner of older comics, exposition is everywhere, but it blends seamlessly into the language and style of the book. Ralph Macchio (longtime editor of Marvel superhero comics, not the Cobra Kai actor) clearly has a love and thorough understanding of the types of comics he’s pastiching. Tom Reilly’s art makes the book a pleasure to read, expertly placing genuine character acting between panels of dynamic action and dramatic poses. Though Reilly’s work draws aspects from older comics, it still reads as fully contemporary, only retaining the most charming bits of the comics he’s referencing. Chris O’Halloran showcases a smart palette that sets Morbius and his costume in the tones of the storyworld’s night, while Ariana Maher’s letters freshen up the old-timey dialogue, choreographing the text in ways that make it far more legible than some of the comics to which Morbius is calling back.
Morbius: Bond Of Blood was probably meant as a lead-in comic for the Morbius movie starring Jared Leto, which had been slated to come out in March but has now been pushed back to 2022. But while it may have bobbed up a nearly a year too early to be of use to moviegoers, it’s still a great read and a fun time. Morbius: Bond Of Blood is a delightful One Shot; it would be nice to see more titles in the current superhero market adopting this kind of style.