Since his 1970s introduction as a classic misunderstood Spider-Man villain, Michael Morbius has been launched into several series, none of which have been creatively successful. There may be no such thing as a bad character, just a poor interpretation, but there are characters built for supporting roles who’ll rarely be able to step up to the spotlight, and with Old Wounds, Morbius proves that again.

The idea of a science-based process resulting in a vampire is interesting, but once the vampire is a vampire he’s like any other vampire, defined by fangs and bloodlust, and Morbius’ driving force of a desire to restore his humanity isn’t enough to differentiate him. Vita Ayala’s solution is to repeat the process, except mistakes are again made, and the end result is Morbius’ lust for blood being even stronger. It sounds dramatic, but in practical terms makes very little difference on the page. Will his vow to avoid killing people prove stronger than that? The plot does at least let Marcelo Ferreira strut his stuff, with plenty of large panels of a savage Morbius raging in torment, but not much else resonates. A guest appearance by Spider-Man is predictable (fight, then offer to help), a stupidly-costumed vampire hunting woman wants revenge on Morbius for what’s revealed as continuity implant background, and for the other villain of the piece Ayala picks on the Melter. Perhaps he featured in the first comic Ayala ever read, but there can’t be many other reasons for using one of Marvel’s oldest villains, and one not really fit for purpose very soon after his 1960s introduction. A guy with a melting gun? Really? To compound it, Ayala has the Melter wittering on about the commercial value of Morbius’ vampire transformation formula while completely oblivious to the applications of his own melting technology.

Ayala’s captions namechecking Aristotle’s philosophy are almost hilariously unsuited to the story, and while Ferreira’s skill disguises this low grade filler at first glance, by the end and Francesco Mobili’s far less imaginative art the wheels have entirely dropped off Old Wounds.