Vampire at Large! / –The Way it Begin / The Curse and the Cure!
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Gil Kane
Inker: Frank Giacoia
Letterer: Art Simek
Originally published: November 1971
This is some kind of crazy extra-long issue in three parts. Maybe because it cost 25¢ instead of 15¢? Or maybe it cost that much because it was so long? Or maybe they are both effects of a third cause? Or maybe they are unrelated?
After a quick recap of what’s been going on, we return to Spidey surrounded by Morbius and the Lizard. The two bad guys fight for awhile, while Spider-Man just kinda sits on the sidelines and doesn’t do anything. The fight is decided when Morbius launches the Lizard into some sort of electrical doodad and fries him. As Morbius prepares to sink into the Lizard’s throat, Spidey finally takes his cue and swoops in to stop him. Fed up with how difficult it is to get a decent meal in this mansion, Morbius takes off by flying right out a window into the night. Luckily, Spider-Man was able to put a tracer on his back.
Back in the house, the Lizard comes to — but although he still has the reptilian body, his mind is that of Curt Connors! Spidey and Lizard/Curt chitchat a bit, and then Connors turns half-way human for a minute, before turning back into the Lizard. They speculate that maybe Morbius’s little drink of the Lizard’s blood caused him to weaken and consider maybe using that to help Spidey with his arm problem — you know, because turning human makes the Lizard lose his arm. They don’t really follow up on it for the time-being, though, and just get to work on some chemicals and shit.
After awhile, teetering on the brink of becoming a jerk, the Lizard comes up with an idea: that Morbius didn’t do anything by removing something from his body, but that the change was due to an enzyme Morbius injected. Spidey and the Lizard take off after Morbius with a vial of serum, in search of the needed enzyme.
Meanwhile, Morbius is in Manhatten. The sun is starting to come up, and with it Morbius starts feeling intense remorse and a weakening of his strength. He finds a place to rest, and dreams of his origins. Michael Morbius was a European Nobel prize winning scientist studying vampire bats. The nature of his work is secret, even to his lady friend – but not to us. He’s using the bats – along with radioactive materials and electroshock – to try and cure some disease he has that’s dissolving his blood cells. Moving his research to the sea, Morbius and his assistant conduct the fateful experiment. When it’s all over, Morbius has been changed into the vampiric monstrosity we’ve already seen.
Soon after, his assistant Niko is dead at his hands. Morbius is shocked and disgusted at his acts, and becomes moreso when he begins lusting after the blood of his special lady. In an effort to end his own suffering and prevent that of others, Morbius leaps overboard in an ill-fated suicide attempt. In a manner that’s not quite clear, the human part of Morbius does drown, but the new monster within him survives. When he resurfaces he is bitter and hungry.
When Morbius awakes from his origin-dream, he finds a vagrant standing over him. So long Charlie! That dude is toast. Meanwhile, eight-limbed Spider-Man and the Lizard are swinging through town, on their way to intercept Morbius. Everything’s going swimmingly until the Lizard part of Connors’s brain takes over. It only lasts an instant, but it kinda freaks Spidey out.
We also check in on Gwen Stacy, who is upset about Pete’s brusqueness on the phone and his subsequent lack of communication. She cries, as usual. That whole relationship never makes any sense to me. Both of them always keep each other at arm’s length, and overreact to every thing. It’s completely dysfunctional in my opinion.
Back out in the open, Spidey and the Liz finally find Morbius and start to kick the crap out of him. They knock him out, take some of his blood to mix with that wacky serum they prepared and – bingo bango! – Curt Connors is back to normal! But what of Spider-Man and his probl-arm? Before Spidey can take his meds, Morbius wakes up and does some crap-kicking of his own. Before they can do anything to stop him, Morbius grabs the serum and takes off!
Although he puts up a valiant chase, Spidey is not able to keep hold of Morbius. The vampire disappears, apparently drowned in the river, but Spider-Man is able to get his webbing onto the vial of serum. Spider-Man feels pretty shitty about the whole thing, but on the other hand (haha!) he’s able to drink the potion and lose his extra arms.
Whew…that was seriously long, but it was also really good. Morbius was a pretty great character, but his origin story probably was the biggest drag of this issue. It just kind of interrupted the flow of the story. Whatever, it was all still pretty awesome, so kudos to everyone.
I do wish that there had been more six-armed Spider-Man stuff – he really didn’t use those extra limbs much or very well. I’m pretty sure they’ll be back, though, so I guess I have that to look forward to.