Review: Fear #20

Fear #20 cover
Cover by Gil Kane

Fear #20
Published and © by Marvel, February 1974

Title: “Morbius the Living Vampire!”
Synopsis: After a brilliant rabbi biochemist fails to help Morbius, the living vampire clashes with a demon-priest.

Writer: Mike Friedrich
Penciler: Paul Gulacy
Inker: Jack Abel

Review: This one scores higher for potential than execution. Michael Friedrich’s story is plagued by coincidences that undermine the suspension of disbelief. But he captures the “hero’s” anguish and the cliffhanger is a doozy. A young Paul Gulacy struggles with anatomy and basic storytelling, but this Steranko-inspired effort still stands out.


Title: “Midnight at the Was Museum!”
Synopsis: A reporter researching a story about a killer has an odd confrontation while spending the night in a wax museum.

Writer: Uncredited
Artist: Richard Doxsee

Review: This poorly written story, reprinted from Astonishing #61, is neither scary nor suspenseful, but Richard Doxsee’s art can be striking.

Grade (for the entire issue): B

Second opinion: “Filled with awkward figure work, inappropriate perspectives and a lack of crucial detail, Gulacy’s dynamism and layouts were strong enough to overcome these weaknesses.” – Pierre Comtois, “Marvel Comics in the 1970s: An Issue By Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon: Expanded Edition,” 2021 … “Paul Gulacy’s art saves issue 20, but it is hard to find a single redeeming script feature.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: Morbius is a visually striking character. Simple, but effective.
Not-so-cool factor: A brilliant bio-chemist just happens to stumble upon a sleeping Morbius? Really?

Notable: Spider-Man, the Human Torch and the X-Men appear in an extended flashback sequence.
Collector’s note: According to MyComicShop.com, there is a Mark Jewelers variant of this issue.

Character quotable:Flee, you men of God – before my most unholy thirst drives me again to murder!” – Morbius, the living vampire

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Sept. 28, 2010.

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