Joe Keatinge recently wrapped up his Glory, and has since jumped onto a new project for Marvel Comics. You’ll currently finding him hanging upside down in some poorly lit cave thinking about new tortures for the Marvel NOW series, Morbius the Living Vampire (NOV128185). Over a fresh cup of neck soda, Joe took time to tell us about his new writing gig, and how he envisions the story of Morbius unfolding in the months ahead.
PREVIEWSworld: You're now writing Morbius the Living Vampire for the Marvel NOW universe. This is the first take on Morbius for Marvel's new chapter in continuity. Can you tell us how discussions went with you and the Editor in forging the new game plan for this ongoing series?
Joe Keatinge: There was a lot of talk surrounding just how to approach Morbius for Marvel NOW. He was a character with a lot of history, but -- besides an appearance here or there -- hasn't seen a solo spotlight in almost twenty years. So, the question became not only how do we reintroduce this character for Marvel NOW, but also who is he even now? How has he changed? How have the events he has been involved in, like in Slott's run on Amazing Spider-Man, altered who the character is now, what his motivations are, and so on.
My interest in the character wasn't so much what most gravitate towards with him. I'm less interested in Morbius as a vampire and more interested in him as the tortured scientist, the Marvel Universe's ultimate outsider. What purpose do you have in a world where you're too weird for the X-Men? Where even a person with seemingly infinite patience like Peter Parker wants absolutely nothing to do with you? Where do you go? What do you do? I feel if you immediately throw other monsters and, say, Blade, in there it gets a little boring. That being said, there's a lot more going on under the surface than I think anyone reading has realized yet.
Furthermore, I love working with a character who isn't a straight hero or villain. Someone who doesn't even have an interest in either one of those pursuits. He's not in Brownsville because he wants to save it, he's in Brownsville solely so he can get away. Any heroic or villainous act he undertakes is usually the result of survival, self-interest. This is far from the traditional dynamic -- and I'm loving working on it.
PREVIEWSworld: What can you tell us about the supporting characters that are featured in the series?
Joe Keatinge: I wanted to surround Morbius with a lot of people who are similar to him at the core of their situations, even though the end results are wildly different. People who aren't fitting into society. People who are largely ignored. People who have no one defending them besides themselves. For example, one of our regulars, Becky Barnes, is a young woman who's put so much of her life into her own art, despite having the absolute worst living conditions, absolutely no money. Having to fend for herself in an abandoned movie theater in what's arguably the absolutely worst part of New York. She has no one looking after her, she's relentlessly trying to do better, even when it just gets worse. I feel there's a lot of that in Morbius, even though the end results with him are usually horrifying.
PREVIEWSworld: Can you tell us about how you thought this book might intersect with the continuity of other NOW titles?
Joe Keatinge: We just announced we'll be down in a two-part Superior Spider-Man crossover in issues #6 and 7, but how it plays out is NOT going to be how its played out traditionally. Given Morbius' recent history and the fact that Otto Octavius is in the driver's seat, well, yeah -- it's a much different situation. I'm being intentionally vague here, but think about how Otto has been viewing all the problems in Peter's life and how he's dealt with them.
PREVIEWSworld: What were the nature of discussions between you and artist Ricard Elson when you first started collaborating on the series? There's a long history for Morbius at the House of Ideas. Did you find yourselves with different takes on this latest incarnation for the character?
Joe Keatinge: Well, first and foremost, I’ve got to point out that Rich is an amazing talent. His work on Journey Into Mystery was astounding, so seeing him equally kill it on something a bit more grounded is absolutely inspiring. We had a lot of conversations going in about how we would approach Morbius and this corner of the Marvel Universe he's kicking around in. He's an ideal collaborator, with such a strong grasp at world building. I'm really looking forward to people seeing how he evolves.
PREVIEWSworld: What do you want your legacy to be as the writer for Morbius the Living Vampire?
Joe Keatinge: Keep reading.