No matter what your feelings are about Amazing Spider-Man #699.1 stuffing a back-door pilot for the new Morbius The Living Vampire series into the run-up to ASM #700 (which could have used the space to make the story seem less rushed), the first proper issue of that new series shows us why all that origin recap was shunted to the side – to drop us right into the messed-up action that engulfs the life of Michael Morbius.
Joe Keatinge and Richard Elson open this issue with Morbius, dressed in street clothes instead of that classic 1970s black and red horror comic outfit, fighting against a gang of jerks, detailing what makes him "vampire-ish" – his strengths and weaknesses and differences from your standard run-of-the-mill suckhead. He takes a shotgun to the chest, which should kill him like it would anybody else, and he declares "I was a living vampire." Once he falls, we get the story leading up to it – after his prison break in ASM #699.1, he meets a guy who gives him some non-prison clothing and directs him to Brownsville as a place to lay low, although with stern warnings that it's a corrupt hellhole. It's not long after he gets there before the conscience of Michael Morbius gets him mixed up with a mohawked thug named Noah St. Germain, who starts to knock him around to show him who's boss. Cue earlier fight scene.
Keatinge's story is very kinetic, which really helps any new #1 issue find its feet when it has to hit the ground running like that. It's not a spooky horror comic (at least not yet), so if you were expecting a full-on throwback to the old school monster tales, you may be disappointed. Perhaps in counterpoint to the moody vampires of the modern era, this take on Michael Morbius seems like more of a flawed action hero than a sparkly dreamboat. His pasty, demonic visage should prevent any disturbingly obsessive 17-year-old girls from deciding they can't live without his radiant beauty, although Elson's clean artwork makes his nose seem decidedly less bat-like here, which means maybe those goth girls will liken him to The Crow and flip for him anyway.
It's a solid start, and that's coming from a guy who has never really liked vampires all that much. When done properly, though, just about any character can become interesting. Morbius The Living Vampire #1 has done that for its star.