Marvel’s final “Next Big Thing” press conference of the week focuses on the January-debuting Morbius, The Living Vampire, with series writer Joe Keatinge and more on the line. We’re covering the call line and this post will be continually updated, so keep refreshing the page. For new art from the series, head over here.
Keatinge starts off the call by reminding the participants that the story actually starts in December’s Amazing Spider-Man #699.1, also written by him, which acts as a prelude to the ongoing series. As far as the series itself, which sees Morbius on the run after escaping from The Raft, Keatinge states that it’ll be something different for Marvel — and examine what kind of horrors exist in the Marvel Universe other than classic monsters.
“He’s not a villain, and he’s not a hero, and he’s continually trying to do right, but it always goes wrong,” Keatinge says, because of the character’s bloodlust. “Things quickly get derailed.”
From the beginning, Keatinge says, Morbius has been trying to do good, so he doesn’t see the character as a villain. “He came in with this addiction he’s been trying to fight,” Keatinge says of Morbius’ work with Horizon Labs. “His intentions are always noble. None of this is stuff is coming from any malicious intent.”
“With classic villains in general, a lot of them are villains because they decide to do something bad,” editor Sana Amanat adds. “With Morbius, it comes from this intrinsic flaw of who he is. That’s more of what we’re exploring — the monster within, and what the does to the human within, and which one will win, if any.”
Marvel’s James Viscardi asks what kind of research goes into a book like this. Keatinge admits that he’s never been a vampire (spoiler alert!), but he’s a lifelong Marvel fan, which helps to inform the book, and they looked at vampire pop culture to see what they could learn and what they should avoid.
First press question, from CBR: Will there be a supporting cast in the book, or is it a Morbius one-man show? “A little bit of both, actually,” Keatinge answers. “I’m introducing a bunch of new characters from the get-go that are in the background, but the focus is on Morbius. But I wanted to really focus on, ‘Who is this guy now, what is his deal, and given his circumstances of being on the run, and trying to resist sucking blood all the time, where would he fit?’”
Next question, from the AP: It’s been almost a “vampire overload” in pop culture, so how is the creative team looking to transcend that genre? “We were looking at exactly what you were talking about,” Keatinge says. “There is a lot of vampire stuff out there. A lot of it came from looking at that stuff, and not doing it, and thinking, ‘How would it work in the Marvel Universe?’” Keatinge says you can make lots of different genres — romance, mystery, crime — work in a superhero comics, and that’s along the lines of their approach.
“A lot of the worst monsters in the book are human,” Keatinge says. Amanat says a lot of vampire fiction has large clans and groups of vampires, which she thinks might “dilute” the idea of what it is to be a vampire. “We’re trying to have a supernatural person in a very real, gritty world,” Amanat says. “As much as I think the vampire trope has been done time and time again, we are looking at this from a different angle, so it can be special, and it can be a unique trait.”
Next question, from iFanboy: Does the graffiti tag on the cover, seen above, imply a “Morbius street team,” and how is he viewed in the underground? “That tag is definitely part of the comic,” Keatinge says. “What that means, I want people to read it and find out.” Keatinge adds that Morbius is “trying to do good in a place where everyone else has given up.”
Next question, from MTV Geek: What does it mean to create a horror comic, and how is Keatinge approaching it? Keatinge compared it to the early Marvel Silver Age, how the publisher was looking to make the concept of the superhero “relatable,” and that’s similar to the philosophy he’s applying to Morbius.
Next question, from IGN: Will Morbius have a new look, as opposed to the classic look he’s had for years? Yes. “He’s going to have a bit of a different look,” Keatinge says, adding that he never really understood Morbius’ original costume, though he does love it. “He’s on the run — a lot of it is finding stuff as he goes.”
Amanat says she’s much more of a “realist” when it comes to designing costumes. “We will be getting to a point where he put him into something that makes sense for who he’s going to become by issue #5.”
Next question, from us: Is there a fixed setting for the book, or since Morbius is on the run, will he be changing locations? “It’s going to be a part of New York,” Keatinge answers. “It’s a part of New York that I don’t believe we’ve ever seen in a Marvel comic before.” Amanat says the setting is a big part of the story.
Next question, from Marvel.com: Will any of the Legion of Monsters play into the book, or other famous Marvel monsters? “I love the Legion of Monsters stuff, that stuff is great,” Keatinge says. “But what I wanted to do first was ask, ‘Who is Morbius?’ I think if you start to use Werewolf by Night, or Living Mummy, it kind of weakens that.” For now, the writer says, the focus is on Morbius, but there is a chance that some of the other monster characters might play a role.
Going back around, to CBR: How much does the story relate to what’s happening in Amazing Spider-Man #700? “It’s kind of more affected by what he’s building to #700,” Keatinge says. “Morbius is out right before that stuff happens. He’s out of The Raft. It won’t directly relate right away.”
Next question, from us: Any plans on touching on the larger vampire world of the Marvel Universe down the line? Keatinge says the focus will remain on Morbius for the foreseeable future. “I’m more into what this guy’s deal is as a person, and focusing on his own personal bloodlust. For me, the story that’s more interesting for now is who this one dude is, and what his plight his, and what his struggle is, as opposed to making it a ‘vampire’ thing.”
Amanat says that depending on what they’re doing with vampires in the MU, the book may loop in at some point, but “that’s not our intention at the moment.”
Last question, from Marvel.com: Will Morbius face familiar antagonists, maybe from the Spider-Man world, or his own villains? Keatinge says much more of the latter. Amanat says that Spider-Man is a big part of Morbius’ origin, so there likely will be a Spidey influence.
To wrap up: Amazing Spider-Man #699.1 is out in December, and the new Morbius, The Living Vampire ongoing series debuts in January.