When you have a habit of biting into people’s necks and draining their blood, you’re probably bound to attract a few enemies. Such is the case with Michael Morbius, aka Morbius the Living Vampire, frequent Spider-Man character and star of the 2022 “Morbius” movie. Though he debuts as a villain, of sorts, in “Amazing Spider-Man” #101 by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, his popularity at the time, along with Morbius’ noble streak (as he doesn’t actually want to hurt others and consume blood, at least most of the time), soon led to him spinning off in his own adventures as an anti-hero.
As is often the case in the Marvel Universe, of course, when you become a hero or quasi-hero, it won’t take long for villains to follow. What’s surprising though is that even early on, Morbius ends up facing supervillains way more powerful than him, including dimensional overlords, other vampires, and humans with some very heavy-duty ordnance. Sure, the heroes Morbius periodically fights like Spider-Man and Blade are tough, but it’s the bad folks who a Living Vampire’s really got to watch out for. Read on to find just how powerful Morbius’ villains can get.
Phillip Hayes may be as human as all the other characters who’ve donned the identity of the Rose, but that doesn’t make him a pushover. While he has no powers, Hayes possesses a very dangerous weapon: a replica of the Ultimate Nullifier. Hayes’ version of the Nullifier, built for him by Nikoleta Harrow, isn’t anywhere near as powerful as the original, which can destroy and remake all of creation in the hands of someone with the intellect to use it properly. Yet it can cause significant property damage and, in theory, kill thousands of people. The Rose also possesses a handgun with adamantium bullets for closer-ranger combat.
As the Rose, Hayes uses his “bootleg Nullifier” to attack an area of Manhattan called Brownsville. However, his goal, which also involves destroying several of Brownsville’s residents, is partly thwarted by Morbius, who has the district’s populace relocated to one of the tunnels to Monstropolis (an underground city for monsters he co-founded). The Rose then tries using the Nullifier on Morbius himself, but when it fails to kill the vampire, Morbius retaliates by tracking the Rose down to North Brother Island and killing him. That said, there is some ambiguity regarding whether the Rose antagonizing Morbius and Brownsville is indeed Hayes, or if he’s one of many versions of the Rose who Morbius’ father, Makariola, claims is in operation around the world.
Rabbi Krause and Reverend Daemond offer to help Morbius cure himself of his vampirism when they find the living vampire in Krause’s laboratory. Being a biochemist expert, Krause manages to learn much about Morbius’ condition, but his efforts are cut short when Daemond reveals he’s no reverend at all, but a “demon-priest.” Daemond uses his macabre mysticism to hypnotize Morbius into killing Krause and target Tara, a small girl who can create an adult warrior version of herself. Daemond continues vexing Morbius in several other ways, including by taunting him with the presence of his ex-fiancée Martine, whom Daemond has also hypnotized. Eventually, it’s revealed that Daemond is a defector of the Caretakers, an alien species that has shepherded humanity since its infancy.
Being both a Caretaker and a sorcerer, Daemond displays both abilities natural to his species and mystically derived. He can fire lightning bolts from his eyes and has taught himself spells to summon beings from other realms like Balkatar, a Cat Person from a mysterious underground realm called “The Land Within.” He has a centuries-long lifespan, and his aforementioned hypnosis allows him to control his subjects from even a considerable distance away unless their willpower is strong enough to break his control. One of Daemond’s more unusual powers is to create a giant, talking, pink recreation of his head … and yes, its eyes also shoot lightning.
Demon-Fire, the collective name of an assortment of cults Morbius faces in the 1970s anthology series “Vampire Tales,” are far from your run-of-the-mill Devil worshippers, with many possessing powers thanks to sorcery or a demonic connection. There’s the hooded Katabolik, with his enormous scythe and strength and endurance that even gives Morbius trouble; Mayor Duke Mannery, who, when dressed as the conch-headed sea demon Blood-Tide, can hypnotize large groups of cultists with his snake staff; and Death-Flame, a cloaked, blazing skeleton who wields a barbed wire whip and rides an equally fiery skeleton horse. Leading them all is Apocalypse (not the X-Men villain, mind you), a hooded, fanged man who can levitate, shape-shift, channel energy blasts from his body, resist gunfire, and summon demons through incantations. Despite their great power, however, some of Demon-Fire’s members had pretty big weaknesses: Morbius defeats Blood-Tide pretty easily once he gets ahold of the demon-possessed mayor’s staff, for example, while all it takes to beat Death-Flame is a whole lot of water.
Morbius has his first of many run-ins with Demon-Fire when one of its covens targets a young woman named Amanda Saint. During a final showdown in a Western-themed amusement park, Morbius and Amanda are joined in battle by the shotgun-wielder Sagebrush Robbins and the park’s owner, Howie Rivers, who set up enough explosives to finish off Apocalypse and his followers once and for all.
Basilisk is a psychic entity born from the hatred and suffering of Wayne Gifford and gestates within Gifford’s body until reaching maturity. An adult Wayne then sets the Basilisk free by killing himself during a mystic ritual, although the Basilisk keeps seeing Wayne’s face in the mirror. The Basilisk engages in a prolonged battle with Morbius that seemingly ends with the creature’s demise, but he later returns seeking vengeance. Morbius defeats the Basilisk yet again, this time by sucking up the creature’s “essence” as he would blood, but expels the Basilisk when the creature begins attacking Morbius’ body from within.
As a being born from Gifford’s psyche, the Basilisk can live inside both his creator and others without interrupting any vital bodily functions (unless he chooses to) and feeds on Gifford’s soul to grow. When he’s not in a person’s body, the Basilisk nourishes himself by devouring human flesh and organs. He’s able to traipse walls with his claws, leap long distances, and present a physical challenge to Morbius even after the vampire’s own strength has been augmented by Lilin (a form of demon) blood. One particular trait that sets the Basilisk apart is his power to freeze people in place with his eyes, although using it as Morbius attempts to hypnotize him briefly links their minds. Originally, the Basilisk’s vulnerable to his reflection, as acknowledging he’s an aspect of Gifford’s mind causes his body to disintegrate, but he overcomes that weakness and learns how to regenerate himself.
Morbius is pretty famous for wearing his emotions on his sleeve, particularly when it comes to his guilt after draining blood from one of his victims … which is just the kind of person who’d interest an emotional parasite like the Empathoid. Morbius first meets the feeling-powered android on its native planet and is shocked when the artificial being melds with him. When Morbius returns to Earth, the Empathoid makes the Living Vampire lure Spider-Man into a fight, noting the intense emotional response Morbius has when seeing a Daily Bugle advertisement poster with the Wallcrawler on it. The Empathoid then takes over Spider-Man’s body after accidentally overexerting Morbius, but the Friendly Neighborhood Webslinger tricks the Empathoid by having it absorb the emotions of dozens of spectators at a college football game at once, short-circuiting the android.
The Empathoid is an android that can become one with a person and control their body’s actions, and usually guides them into performing acts that stimulate extreme emotions, which the android then feeds on. Though the host’s mind remains free, resisting the Empathoid’s control can be extremely painful. It has complete molecular control over its body and can regenerate itself, and previously believes itself incapable of being destroyed, as its body essentially phases in response to any attempts to physically harm it. As Spider-Man proves, however, the Empathoid can’t absorb emotion in excess, even if they’re coming from people around it, rather than the person the android’s combined with.
While Morbius’ bite has turned people into vampires before, they never gain the full range of Morbius’ powers. That is, of course, before demon blood is snuck into his system … and before Vic Slaughter comes along. A former US Marine some claim “kills at least one man a day, whether he needs to or not,” Slaughter and his mercenary crew, the Hardcases, are hired to hunt down Morbius. Yet the Living Vampire’s bite kills them all except Slaughter, whom Morbius decides deserves to die beneath a pile of dirt. Slaughter quite literally resurfaces, however, and slowly transforms into a living vampire himself, gaining many of Morbius’ powers. He then fights Morbius and the trio of supernatural defenders called the Nightstalkers, but it ends rather badly for him … specifically, inside an incinerator. Yet again, Slaughter survives, and later encounters Morbius (along with Spider-Man and Simon Stroud) while hunting for ex-CIA agent Randolph Simpson. Although Morbius stabs Slaughter, it has little effect, and Vic gets away.
Slaughter is among the rare few people Morbius has turned into vampires, in that he’s the only person to have gained all of Michael’s physical traits, including unnaturally pale skin and claws, as opposed to solely gaining Morbius’ fangs. He can heal and regenerate from just about anything, including being shot at close range, burned alive, and hit by a subway train. His super-strength, just like Morbius, increases the more he consumes blood. Slaughter can also hypnotize people, as well as undo Morbius’ hypnotic effects on others. Despite all his powers, Slaughter still regularly uses firearms, including twin Uzi Submachine Guns.
Bloodthirst begins as a separate consciousness within Morbius’s mind that slowly comes into being after Michael is injected with blood belonging to Fang, a demonic vampire member of the group known as the Lilin. Gradually, Bloodthirst asserts himself in Morbius’ head, especially after Michael seemingly loses his soul when resurrected by the Darkhold book of spells. After Doctor Strange pushes Bloodthirst to the back of Morbius’ psyche, Michael has his friend, Jacob Weisenthal, drain every last drop of Fang’s blood from Morbius’ bloodstream. The process works, removing Bloodthirst in the process, but shockingly, the Lilin mystically morphs the extracted blood into a physical body. Bloodthirst then attacks Morbius’ place of work, St. Jude’s Hospital, grievously wounding his girlfriend Mandy Tyler before fighting Michael himself. After a prolonged battle, Morbius destroys Bloodthirst by forcefully injecting him with enough procainamide to kill him.
While in Morbius’ mind, Bloodthirst is able to assume control at various times, even able to avoid detection from Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare. Once he makes his own body, his powers are like the ones Morbius had while still infected with Lilin blood: He’s a super-strong vampire, for instance, but far stronger than his former host, and his skin is dense enough (or perhaps heals fast enough) to resist fired bullets with ease. He has three fingers, rather than Morbius’ five, with razor-sharp claws that can slash and dig deep into their victims. When Bloodthirst is murdered by Morbius, his body begins to dissipate.
Morbius’ attempt to resurrect his ex-fiancée, Martine Bancroft, with a page of the Darkhold accidentally bonds Martine to the Lilin called Parasite. Though Morbius quickly realizes something’s gone awry when “Martine” shows an utter lack of compassion for human suffering, he still believes she is his lover, oblivious to the monstrous being hiding within Bancroft’s body. Parasite continues to pretend to be Martine until Bloodthirst takes complete control of Morbius, and the two Lilin begin a relationship. Together, they enact a plan to secretly infiltrate Doctor Strange’s headquarters, the Sanctum Sanctorum, by having Bloodthirst trick Strange and his superhero team of supernatural beings, the Midnight Sons, into thinking Bloodthirst is still Morbius. Parasite makes herself invisible and sneaks inside with Bloodthirst/Morbius, then attacks the Midnight Sons with her raw mystic might once the ruse is discovered. Later on, however, Parasite is forced out of Martine’s body thanks to Morbius after he’s regained control of himself, and the demon is killed by Michael’s new fire-casting ally, Embyrre.
Parasite is a green and orange lizard-like Lilin who, upon becoming one with Martine, turns Bancroft’s skin as white as snow and changes her eye colors to red and yellow. Besides possessing hosts, Parasite is shown to wield several incredible powers while within Martine, making her levitate, fire mystical lightning bolts from all over her body, generate force fields and sonic screams strong enough to disrupt Doctor Strange’s magic, and redirect any blast thrown at her at up to twice its initial power.
Blade and Morbius have often butted heads, given that the former’s a vampire hunter and the latter is, well, a vampire. Yet Blade becomes an outright villain when the Darkhold transforms him into the Demogorge, a hunter of the occult that absorbs the powers of each supernatural being it kills. Renaming himself “Switchblade,” Blade quickly kills Morbius and several of his Midnight Sons teammates, as well as Spider-Man villain the Demogoblin and Werewolf by Night. Switchblade hits a major snag, however, when he kills Ghost Rider, as absorbing the Spirit of Vengeance’s Penance Stare forces him to feel a highly amplified version of the pain he’s caused his victims. Dazed, Switchblade is unable to stop Midnight Sons member Louise Hastings from using the Darkhold to turn Blade back to normal and revive everyone he’s killed, Morbius included … although, as Doctor Strange later reveals, Morbius’ soul does not appear to come back with his body.
As Switchblade, Blade retains the usual powers he had during that period, namely being unaffected by vampires who bite him (his other vampire traits don’t manifest until later comics). After his killings, however, he gains many more abilities, including summoning weapons out of nothing like Demogoblin, turning into the mist like vampire Hannibal King and rapid healing like Morbius. Switchblade could easily become the most powerful supernatural being on Earth if he murders enough people, and comes pretty close after killing Ghost Rider. His body also transforms somewhat to reflect each person whose powers he’s absorbed.
Lilith is the self-professed “Mother of All Demons,” having either birthed or mystically created her superpowered descendants, the Lilin, for millennia. When freed, she seeks out several of her progeny to aid her both in bringing Lilin living in other dimensions to Earth and in defeating nine beings prophesied to challenge them in battle. Morbius is one of those nine, who joins the Lilin’s other foretold opponents in Greenland and kills Fang, while Ghost Rider defeats Lilith by throwing her into her own portal. Yet the Mother of Demons secretly reappears moments later, eventually renewing her battle with the Nine — aka the Midnight Sons — alongside enormous armies of Lilin summoned from the Shadowside Dimension.
Though said to have once possessed power comparable to a god, Lilith is not at full power in her encounters with Morbius and the Sons. She’s still quite formidable, however, thanks to her great mystical prowess and phenomenal physical strength, and can feed on her own offspring’s essence to recharge. In later appearances, Lilith shows she can also fire energy blasts from her hands and kill normal humans with a simple gesture.
Lilith also boasts the power of precognition, and her mind can contact Lilin from anywhere on Earth. All her conceived children have unique powers, and she can transform people, as well as souls, into Lilin by pulling them through a rift her child Pilgrim creates in her chest. She can even birth herself a new body to extend her already impressive lifespan.
Helleyes is not only one of Morbius’ more out their villains, but also one of the most powerful. Helleyes governs one of the many versions of Hell in the Marvel Universe and has no shortage of incredible powers at his command. Each of the eyeballs on his body leads to a different dimension — with the exception of one, which is his Achilles’ heel. Helleyes’ own body is also a sub-dimension in itself, protected by several fuzzy cyclopean creatures. Though a giant in his main form, Helleyes can also create and command smaller, human-sized proxies of himself in any of the dimensions his eyes are gateways to; he can even control certain inanimate objects, like a giant statue of himself.
Morbius has the dubious honor of meeting Helleyes’ gaze in “Adventure Into Fear” #28-29 when he follows one of the many-eyed beings’ more human-looking cyclops servants. Helleyes transports Morbius and investigator Simon Stroud, who’s been tasked with bringing Michael to justice, to an ancient, abandoned city. After fighting several of Helleyes’ mini-doppelgangers/duplicates, Morbius finally finds the eyeball on the demon’s body that teleports him and Stroud back to their home dimension.
Sleep doesn’t always come easily for Morbius, and it probably wouldn’t for most people if they knew who they might run into. Nightmare can control every sleeping Earthling’s dream from the comfort of his domain, Nightmare World, a sub-realm of a place called (surprise, surprise) the Dream Dimension. Possessing great control over the matter within the Dream Dimension in general, Nightmare can alter his home in virtually any way he pleases, along with his size and appearance. He can also affect the dreams of any person on Earth and pull their psyches into his realm as long as he pleases and leach off them like a parasite. Even people who are awake aren’t necessarily safe, as he’s also been known to control people through “waking dreams,” as seen when he manipulates believers of the American Dream in “Captain America” #10-12 by Mark Waid, Andy Kubert, and Jesse Delperdang. His one major weakness, however, is that most of his powers only work while he’s in the Dream Dimension: take him out of there and you’ll find he’s substantially more vulnerable.
Morbius has the displeasure of running into Nightmare in a crossover between his 1990s series, “Morbius, the Living Vampire,” and “Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme.” There, Nightmare captures the psyche of a drugged, dreaming Morbius, and torments the Living Vampire with visions of his deceased fiancée, Martine Bancroft, while pitting him against Doctor Strange’s astral form. Luckily, Strange rescues Morbius from the Dream Dimension, and Michael returns the favor by freeing Strange’s body from Nightmare’s possession.