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Bite me (An Ever-Lovin’ October Continues) – Marvel Two-In-One #15

October 9, 2011

If there’s anyone that can keep pace with Ben Grimm in an “I’m a monster!” mope-fest, it’s Morbius, the Living Vampire. A kind of good guy who has to suck blood to survive, his curse, while giving him a nice gothy complexion, puts Ben’s purely physical issues to shame. Along the spectrum of Marvel’s undead (or unundead), Morbius stands somewhere between Dracula and that wispy dude that tried to give Luke Cage a hickey. He ain’t all that great, but he ain’t all that bad.

This issue’s (Bill Mantlo, Arv Jones, Dick Giordano) superpowered set-to is spawned by that all-too-familiar catalyst, Alicia Masters. And yes, her goddamn sculptures, which Ben at some point has to think of as nothing but glorified Hummel figurines. Being blind, she of course can’t detect a vampire sneaking up on her as she works:

Ben, bringing flowers over (judging by the frequency of his botanical gifts he has FTD on speed dial), hears her screams and busts in just in the nick of time. His anger is what it was in his dustup with the Silver Surfer x100. We’re talking George-Brett-with-a-mouth-full-of-chew-charging-out-of-the-dugout-to-curb-stomp-an-ump pissed. After all, Morbius was going to end her life, not just make out with her or slip her the little Surfer. The furious boyfriend and the stymied bloodsucker throw down, chucking convenient hunks of stone at one another and debating the ethical imperatives of monsterdom:

Alicia, who feels there’s good in just about anybody, stays Ben’s hand and Morbius, taking advantage of the lull, beats Living Vampire cheeks out of there. At this point the next member of the dramatis personae walks on stage. The Living Eraser (who’s even lower than Paste Pot Pete on the Marvel totem pole) demonstrates his moniker-bestowing power on some drunk bum:

Handy. And keep your eyes peeled for the Living Monolith. These things come in threes.

He had the misfortune of appearing in this dimension right underneath Alicia’s apartment window, and a fleeing Morbius, still thirsting for blood, pounces. This brings Ben in for Round 2:

The Living Eraser capitalizes on the confusion and “erases” Ben and Morbius to his home dimension, where he’s usurped the throne and imprisoned the rightful ruler and his hot daughter. Our one-and-a-half heroes are thrown in the hoosegow with the royals, but if there’s one comic book truth that holds true in all dimensions, it’s that puerile ruses will work on ANY prison guard:

Ben and Morby, armed with their own dimensional erasers, head back to our dimension, but not before the Living Vampire gets cause for a Living Erection courtesy of his private Orion Slave Girl:

“She said I’m cuuuuuuute!”

Unholy vengeance and dueling erasures would seem worthy of a wonderfully off-kilter splash page, no?:

It takes all of three seconds to subdue the this D-list villain, and surely this triumph is the start of something great for Morbius. A fresh chapter. He’ll begin a new life with his green babe, stop bitching, join the local Elks Lodge, etc. Right?:

Some folks just can’t handle happiness.

This is one of the weaker TIO issues on the docket this month. The Living Eraser, while stupendously silly, isn’t a villain upon whom you’d slap the franchise tag. Morbius, who admittedly has had stints moving mags, doesn’t add a great deal to this particular issue. His “curse” comes across as a less engaging — and less entertaining — brand of what Johnny Blaze brought to the table earlier this month and later in the run. Even poor Ben, such a fertile soil for crops of comic goodness, is a bit watered down. But at least there’s that splash page, which is worthy of the Mighty Marvel Manner tradition.

You can’t win them all, and this title was still getting its ever-lovin’ sea legs underneath it. Growing pains. And there was much better to come. Stay tuned.

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