Horror is no stranger to comic books. In fact, a multitude of comic book titles, from yesterday and today, would be classified as works of the horror genre.
Among these many works is the notable Amazing Spider-Man #101, an issue that features the first appearance of Morbius the Living Vampire. Now, following the character's debut in that particular work, Morbius would go on to lead the Adventure into Fear run for eleven installments.
Adventure into Fear ran as a Marvel Comics title from 1970 to 1975. During this run, tales of monsters and vampires were rampant, even battles between living vampires and vampire hunters.
Morbius the Living Vampire and Blade the Vampire Slayer faced off in a 1974 issue of Adventure into Fear, therefore comprising some of the first iterations of the two iconic characters.
Here's what went down.
The Last of Them
Adventure into Fear #24 begins with a depiction of Morbius on a distant planet. Alongside his one-eyed, alien ally, Morbius assesses a starship that could transport him back to Earth.
As the two converse over the starship's capabilities, Morbius and his ally get bombarded by a squad of the planet's barbarians. In an effort to stave the ambush, Morbius takes one of the barbarians hostage.
Unfortunately for the hostage though, Morbius is quite thirsty. So, he takes a bite and drains the hostage of her blood. Unfortunately for Morbius though, that hostage just so happened to be the barbarians' queen.
Thus, they continue their onslaught as Morbius and his one-eyed ally decide to embark on the starship in order to escape the attack and head to Earth.
Meanwhile, as Morbius makes his return to his home planet, the vampire slayer known as Blade stalks the streets at night. We come to learn that his own mother fell prey to a vampire long ago. As a result, Blade has taken it upon himself to defend everyone he can possibly defend from the threat vampires pose to humanity.
On this particular night, Blade tracks down and kills a vampire preying on a young woman with a set of wooden knives.
Following this small victory, a spaceship suddenly falls out of the sky.
Unsurprisingly, Blade is shocked to see an otherworldly object right before his eyes. So, he goes to investigate, only to find the corpse of a one-eye alien with fang marks in their neck. Consequently, one can presume that Morbius drained his ally during the two's extensive journey to Earth.
Of course, Blade knows a vampire bite when he sees one. So, he begins hunting and eventually comes face-to-face with The Living Vampire himself.
Now, this confrontation is when Adventure into Fear #24 gets especially interesting. Upon seeing Blade's toolkit for killing vampires, Morbius scoffs. He believes Blade is riddled with madness for believing these ridiculous wooden tools could possibly harm him.
One can certainly argue that Blade has maintained a narrow scope of vision when it comes to vampires, and, has thus, underestimated his opponents. Sure, Morbius is technically an artificial vampire. However, his ability to prey and drain the blood of humans arguably poses a greater threat than the other vampires Blade has combatted.
Perhaps Blade's confidence and past success in killing vampires facilitated a mindset that he could beat any vampire he faced. Perhaps this mindset has prevented Blade from evolving his own mode of operations and perception of his foes.
Now, as Morbius and Blade battle it out, Blade manages to lead Morbius to a church rooftop. He forces Morbius to gaze upon a cross, believing the holy symbol can weaken Morbius.
Unsurprisingly, the tactic fails, and Morbius makes his escape.
Over the next three days, Blade would continue his hunt for Morbius to no avail as the Living Vampire has made his way across the country feeding on a multitude of individuals along the way.
From Dusk 'til Dawn
Now, during the scuffle between Morbius and Blade, Morbius expresses that he does not wish to hurt Blade. One could argue that this is in fact true and Morbius does not wish to hurt anyone. One may perceive that it is Morbius' nature that forces him to kill, even if it is against his will.
However, Morbius is still harming human beings, and, thus, Blade takes it upon himself to stop creatures that operate like Morbius, even if they are prescribed to their nature.
Though, this encounter between the two proves to Blade that he must broaden his scope when it comes to understanding the supernatural.
His confidence in killing vampires has been impacted by this fruitless fight with Morbius. Therefore, Blade now acknowledges that he may have been ignorant to the broader threat of vampires, of all kinds, throughout the world.
With this, one of the reasons Adventures into Fear #24 is such an intriguing issue is the fact that it truly marks the beginning of both Morbius and Blade's evolution in their respective comic book history. It also provides insight into the implementation of horror and supernatural elements in Bronze Age comics.
Today, it is not exceedingly difficult to find comic books comprising these elements. As a result, it is worth visiting the beginnings of those sorts of tales as to gain a greater appreciation for the evolution of both comics and the characters that have spawned out of comics' darker elements that many people may not be exposed to.