With the arrival of the first trailer for Sony Pictures' Morbius, some fans are just learning about the Spider-Man villain who goes by the moniker of "The Living Vampire". While the former villain turned hero, turned villain again, first appeared in the comic of Amazing Spider-Man #101, many will remember him from his bizarre appearance in the 1990s Spider-Man Animated Series. Though the cartoon had a series of censorship issues, Morbius was introduced in such a way that he was able to appear, though his introduction was seriously strange.
Morbius' origin story in the animated series is somewhat similar to that of the comics, with the sickly scientist attempting to discover a cure for a disease that afflicted both himself and the Eastern European town from which he was born. In the cartoon, Morbius became a living vampire much like his original appearance, though with a glaring difference, his hands. This version of Michael Morbius had tiny "pores" in his hands that he used to extract "plasma" from his victims.
Thus, the method in which Morbius was able to appear in a cartoon that prided itself on strange censorship became apparent. Morbius would not suck "blood", but instead would absorb plasma into his hands instead of biting into his victims' throats. On top of this, the Spider-Man villain would also not kill his victims by draining their blood, but would instead momentarily incapacitate them for a few hours. While this didn't necessarily make him a deadly threat, it was still enough to somewhat retain the spirit of Morbius.
The Spider-Man cartoon was "legendary" when it came to what it would censor, with a strange list of requirements that the episodes would have to adhere to if they wanted to air. This is why more often than not you wouldn't see Peter Parker delivering a punch to the face of Doctor Octopus and why most handguns were replaced with laser blasters. While there have been lists compiled of the different censorship standards that the cartoon would have to meet, the creators still found ways around them, albeit bizarre ones like Morbius' hands.
Ironically enough, Morbius was created in the Marvel Comics thanks in part to censorship, as creators Roy Thomas and Gil Kane wanted to make a vampiric villain to combat Spider-Man and the Comics Code Authority had just lifted their ban on vampires in comics. While they originally thought of using Dracula, they eventually decided to create an all new character in Michael Morbius.
What did you think of Morbius' appearances in the Spider-Man Animated Series? Feel free to let us know in the comments or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics and anime!
Morbius hits theaters on July 31st!