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Spider-Man Classic
by yo go re

As revealed on our blog, Marvel introduced a whole slew of horror characters designed to cash in on the changes made to the Comics Code in the early '70s. One of the earliest was the pseudo-monstrous Morbius.

Dr. Michael Morbius, a brilliant scientist, is tirelessly searching for a very important antidote - the serum that could save him from a rare blood disease. But when his unorthodox experiments go awry, the good doctor is horrifically mutated into Morbius, the Living Vampire! Sometimes a villain, sometimes a hero, this tortured soul leads the painful existence of a ghoul's life: struggling to combat his vampiric nature. With his super-strength and dangerous fangs, Morbius is a living nightmare for anyone!

Once again reinforcing the idea that there's no such thing as a "normal" Marvel Universe scientist, Michael Morbius is actually a Nobel prize-winning biochemist. Holy crap! Not even Reed Richards has a Nobel Prize. It's not like he has a degree in homeopathic medicine or some other baloney: we're talking hardcore science, here. Biochem isn't the class the jocks sign up for in college when they're just looking to coast for a semester.

Morbius was originally in Series 5 of the adjectiveless Spider-Man line, but was re-released in the "villains-only" assortment that was exclusive to Target stores, so he was never very hard to find. The figure is 6¼" tall, though only if he really stands up straight - he's designed to be posed in a squat. He's a little under-articulated; thanks to an action feature, he only moves at the ankles, knees, waist, wrists, elbows, biceps and shoulders. No neck. No thighs, either, but that was just the style at the time. Ditto for the lack of hand hinges, which weren't commonplace yet, even on hands as big as this.

Morby's action feature may ruin his neck, but it does work nicely. The gimmick is that you press a button on his back and his jaw opens. His face is molded from soft rubber, and there's a mechanism that stretches the lower jaw down drastically. Unlike a lot of figures that have features like this, Morbius honestly looks good either compressed or stretched. Hopefully the rubber won't dry out and rot away.

The sculpt is good. Morbius looks quite vampiric, both thin and muscular at the same time. Oddly, though, his cape and his hair are blowing in different directions. His costume is plain black, but torn and raggedy, allowing his chalky skin to show through. There was a running change to the paint on the figure's face - the initial wave had red eyes set right against the white skin, while the later waves added black rims around the eyes, making them look more impressive.

Unexpectedly, Morbius comes with accessories - nothing too fancy, just a pair of brown bats, but I believe they're new molds. Toybiz has made toy bats before, but they've always been crazy, stylized things, while these are more natural looking. They're made from soft rubber, so you could use their feet to hang them from Morbius' wrists if you wanted.

So, what exactly is a "living vampire?" It's a regular vampire with "living" thrown in front of it. See, the Comics Code had just been relaxed, and no one was really sure how much you could get away with yet. So Michael became a living vampire, a semantic way of tip-toeing around the issue. He was also fairly superhero-y: it would be almost a year before they would introduce a "real" vampire - Dracula.

-- 02/15/07

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