Writer: Joe Keatinge
Artists: Rich Elson with Carlos Rodriguez
Color Artist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: David Lopez
Editor: Sana Amanat
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
THE STORY: Well let’s face facts – there’s not much of one. Morbius tears through mobsters and gangsters while the assembled citizens of Brownsville wait outside. He gives the least inspiring speech you can imagine. He gets shot and threatened by the Rose. And it turns out the Rose is holding Morbius’ mother captive while working for Morbius’ father. So yeah.
MY THOUGHTS: I mean…really?
So Morbius has rallied the city together so they can apparently tend to the wounded after he rips out the throats of mobsters and gangsters who are working out who’s going to rule Brownsville (because it’s just SUCH a great place that all the crooks want. What? It just is, ok! Go with it!). Last issue he was teamed up with the gangsters against The Rose’s men, and this one he’s coming in teeth flaring. Basically he just wants to bite some people, it seems. Don’t worry, nobody’s looking for the reader to think too hard here.
Maybe the most frustrating – no, as I was typing the word “maybe” I knew it was wrong – DEFINITELY the most frustrating part of this issue is Morbius “inspirational speech.” First off, the timing of it is the most laughably self-serving thing imaginable. He’s just cleared out all the bad guys and when somebody says they need to tend to their wounded he says, “Wait, before you do, I’d like to say something.” No really mother$%!@#&, how about we tend to our WOUNDED PEOPLE before you say your few words. No no, Morbius has to drone on for a page full of speech bubbles – the wounded can wait. And the whole long-winded speech is nothing but continuous restatements of “I’m bad, you’re good, you did this, you stood up to people, blah blah blah me me me you you you.” It actually feels like those are the real words after a certain point, because it’s absolute uninspiring drivel.
Then we have some revelations. Last issue it was revealed that The Rose had been controlling things. Awesome, a real villain, I’m in. Then this issue he pretty much blows all his villain cred. He first lures Morbius back into the building to tell him all about what he’s been doing, tell him he’s boned, and tell him he’ll do anything he’s told because The Rose has his mother (who’s apparently alive for some reason). Notice the repeated phrase: he tells, he tells, he tells. The Rose just keeps telling Morbius things. When you’re the grand manipulator this Rose is supposed to be, why tell the mark all about it? Why give him all this information and then give him a reason to fight you? This is pure supervillain stupidity at its worst and it completely devalues The Rose as a major villain I was looking forward to seeing in this series. And then, as it turns out, he’s not even the mastermind. No, after only one issue of The Rose we find out he has a boss – and it’s Morbius’ father.
So that brings me to – Morbius’ parents are around. Oh joy. This comes with a truckload of issues. The first being why haven’t we heard word one about Morbius mother before this series when Morbius has been around for some time, she’s apparently SO very important to him, and oh yeah, SHE’S STILL ALIVE?! That’s really straining my suspension of disbelief more than it wants to be strained. And then we have Morbius’ father as the master villain here. This is giving me unfortunate flashbacks to the Guggenheim Blade series (which not only made his father the villain but revealed that his father was white). First we have the never-before-mentioned mother and now the never-before-mentioned father. Does it feel to anyone else that we’re just trying really, really hard all of a sudden to make this story feel important and connected? It’s not working mind you, but you can almost see the creative team’s sweat from the strain of trying to force a “big important story.”
The part of the issue I find most funny is when The Rose tells the audience that this really is a good comic book series. We’re now in issue 5 so by the time this one was being written (or at least letter proofed) the first few should have already been out and getting the pretty bad reactions they got. And so The Rose says to his boss, “It’s an unorthodox approach, probably not what someone thinks of when they consider what to do with Michael Morbius. A vampire in Brownsville? An odd choice. But consider the possibilities.” And it goes on and on that way. In the context of the issue it’s The Rose talking to Morbius’ dad about what he’s been doing, but I cannot be convinced that this isn’t really Joe Keatinge talking to the audience about what HE’S been doing. And yes – it certainly is an odd choice.
Lastly I guess I should mention the huge Morbius-face tag on the side of a building at the end. Or do I have to mention it? Does the wrongness of this just speak for itself? Morbius spent a page blathering on while people were bleeding out about how he’s a monster, he didn’t do anything good, the people were the good ones…but he had the little homeless girl paint a huge image of his face on the side of a building. What is he now, Vampire Jesus? Pick a stance, man.
And I suppose that wasn’t lastly since there’s one more thing – the art. Rich Elson does his usual fine job, but sadly Carlos Rodriguez handles about the second half of the issue here and he’s just not up to the same level as Elson. I think on his own on a book that wasn’t so used to good art he would do fine, but standing right next to Elson’s work it just looks rather poor. And considering the art is the only thing this book’s really had going for it, that’s a huge disappointment.
GRADE: F I pondered this one for awhile because I really don’t want to hand out so many F’s that it can’t be taken seriously, but I can’t come to any other conclusion here. The story was barely there and only served to undermine past gains when it did anything at all, the dialogue was mostly stand-out awful, and even the art took a tumble this time. Sadly this issue puts itself solidly in the F column.