Writer: Joe Keatinge
Artist: Rich Elson
Color Artist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: David Lopez
Editorial Assistant: Devin Lewis
Editor: Sana Amanat
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
THE STORY: Morbius gets punched by Nikoleta Harrow (or “Harlow,” according to this issue’s recap page) before she leaves, then sends the entire population of Brownsville to Monstropolis for safe-keeping (those back-issues of Franken-Castle and Legion of Monsters are finally paying off!), and finally challenges The Rose, which ends in The Rose Ultimate Nullifying Morbius. Oh noes! Morbius is really dead this time, kids!
MY THOUGHTS: I’m sorry, I clearly can’t even get through a short plot summary of this series with a straight face anymore. And let’s face it, you already know what I’m going to say about this if you’ve been reading my reviews of past issues – this was flat-out bad. Preposterous plot, poor dialogue, and gimmicks out the hoo-ha. Must be another issue of Morbius!
Let’s begin at the end. The cliffhanger – such as it is – is yet another “Morbius is dead” fake-out. Again. It’s only been 8 issues, guys. Isn’t that a bit early to be recycling your big “shock” moments? And oh no – Morbius is framed by a coffin on next issue’s cover! So he must REALLY be dead, just like when Morbius was in a coffin on the cover of Morbius: The Living Vampire (1991 series) #29! Which we all know he never got better from. I jest, but seriously, what dramatic tension am I supposed to get from The Rose using the Ultimate Nullifier on Morbius at the end of this issue? The most that’s going to happen is it’s going to change one of Morbius’ powers. That’s the biggest possible lasting effect this will have, and even that isn’t OVERLY likely.
Then there’s The Rose’s “plan.” He’s going to blow up Brownsville and pin it on Morbius. That’s about as much detail as we get. He’s going to blow up a place that we’ve well established that no one cares about, and he’s somehow going to pin that on an already wanted fugitive, who can’t really be MORE wanted considering he’s a murderer and prison escapee. CRIMINAL MASTERMINDERY!
And how about that major plot point where it turned out a few issues ago that The Rose is working for Morbius’ dad and has Morbius mom captive? Well, this issue we get a brief flashback where we find out Morbius dad was supposed to stay away from Michael and his mom – but didn’t! And…that’s…really it. There’s one more issue left and that’s all we’ve got. Oh, but Morbius dad was given a first name: Makarioa. His supervillain power is that his name is inpronounceable.
Remember the girl I said I liked when she was introduced in issue 2, Becky? Well we’re at a point with her where she’d damn well better be harboring a secret. At one point she mentions the Midnight Sons and A.R.M.O.R. (the organization Morbius worked for in the Marvel Zombies minis), and Morbius feebly mumbles, “How do you know about A.R.M.O.R.?” And then we just move the hell on from that. Well excuse me, but that was a good question! Heck, how does she know about the Midnight Sons, too? Does she legitimately have a secret, or is this just raucously bad writing where the character knows things she can’t possibly know just so she can throw some things in Morbius’ face? If it’s the latter, well that’s just sloppy and lazy, and calling it out with Morbius brief moment of incredulity is not NEARLY enough to excuse it. So until next issue, I’ll hold out hope that maybe Becky’s actually just a really young S.H.I.E.L.D. or A.R.M.O.R. agent.
I’m also still very annoyed by the use of the name “Ultimate Nullifier” for this thing that is clearly NOT one. And I’m starting to think it’s just indicative of what this series does. It’s been mentioned several times (more so by others than by me, believe it or not) that the star of this series could really be anyone, he just has Morbius’ name slapped on him to try and sell books but in the end it absolutely does not have to be Michael Morbius in this story. And to a degree I really agree with that. To a large degree, I must admit. And now that’s extended to just appropriating the name “Ultimate Nullifier” for a bomb. And when I really get to thinking about it, we’ve so far seen NO reason to have given this villain the legacy identity of The Rose except to give him a connection to the Marvel Universe. And that’s maybe a big part of why this series truly isn’t working. It feels like a story that has nothing to do with nothing , but people and things are given names like Morbius, The Rose, and Ultimate Nullifier to make it SEEM like it’s attached to things we care about. But is that enough to make us care? For me, the answer is definitely no.
So what worked in this issue? What was actually good? Well I’m happy to say I can answer that in two words: Rich Elson. Well, to be fair two more words as well: Antonio Fabela. The regular art team is back for this issue and they are ON. Dynamic page layouts, popping colors, and pretty, pretty pictures. If nothing else, I can say that Morbius LOOKS like a better book. Sadly the art team is being let down by the story content, but I have to applaud the artists for a job very well done, and for giving me something to really enjoy and admire on the page even when what I was reading was making me fairly miserable. At least there is one thing this series can be remembered fondly for.
GRADE: D- The story is F level work, but that art brings the grade up a notch. Usually art that good would bring it up to a full, solid D, but sadly the story here was just too awe-inspiringly bad not to add a negative.