|First appearance||The Amazing Spider-Man #30 (June 2001)|
|Created by||J. Michael Straczynski
John Romita, Jr.
|Notable aliases||"Devourer of Totems"|
|Abilities||Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, and durability
Capable of absorbing life-force through physical contact
Morlun is a fictional comic book supervillain in Marvel Comics' shared universe, the Marvel Universe, and a foe of Spider-Man. Morlun first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #30 (June 2001), created by writer J. Michael Straczynski and penciler John Romita, Jr.. He is best known as the killer of Spider-Man in the popular storyline "Spider-Man: The Other".
Fictional character biography
First encounter with Spider-Man
When Spider-Man met a similarly powered man named Ezekiel, Ezekiel explained to him that Spider-Man's powers were not an accident, and that the spider that had bitten him did so voluntarily to pass its abilities onto Peter before it died. This made Spider-Man a "totem", a bridge between man and beast, with the properties of both. Ezekiel then warned Spider-Man that as a totem, he was in danger from those who would seek to destroy such beings. One of those, who showed up soon after, was Morlun.
Little is known about exactly what Morlun is and where he comes from. According to Ezekiel, as long as totemistic forces have walked the earth, there have also been those who have fed on them. While Morlun and his brothers (it is not known how many there are in existence, but Morlun is not the only one) can subsist on the life forces of normal humans and non-totemistic superhumans for a time, they always crave a pure host and Peter fits the bill perfectly.
After Peter's meeting with Ezekiel, Morlun and his hapless minion Dex subtly began tormenting Peter from the shadows, stalking him and wreaking havoc with his spider-sense. Morlun finally revealed himself when Spider-Man was investigating a fire at the wharfs, punching him with what Spider-Man claimed was the hardest punch he had ever felt. Morlun then told Spider-Man that he would eventually kill him, and now that they had made physical contact, he could find Spider-Man wherever he went. Though Spider-Man fought back, Morlun continually regained the upper hand. Peter tried to flee, but Morlun was able to find him easily and resume the fight. Spider-Man finally got away after Morlun burned down the building they were fighting in, but Ezekiel told him it was no use. Morlun would find him once again, and kill him.
Morlun continually attacked Spider-Man over the next few days, endangering the lives of innocent citizens if Peter tried to flee. With Ezekiel's help, Peter managed to briefly escape with a sample of Morlun's blood, which he discovered contained the DNA of every genus in the animal kingdom. Realizing that Morlun's DNA was pure, Peter found a weakness he could exploit. Luring Morlun to a nuclear power plant, Spider-Man injected himself with a dose of radiation that would kill a normal human being, but was only enough to weaken him due to the radiation already in his blood. When Morlun arrived, he prepared to feed, only to be burned instead by the radiation in Peter's blood. Peter explained that he was not a pure spider totem as Morlun had guessed due to the spider that bit him having been previously subjected to a dose of radiation, and that while Morlun could feed on the spider, he could not digest the radiation. Absorbing the radiation rather than his spider-powers with every punch Peter threw at him, Morlun began to disintegrate, and he negotiated with Spider-Man to spare his life, saying he was merely doing what was necessary for his survival, and that it was nothing personal. While Peter debated whether or not to let a monster like Morlun walk free, Dex suddenly appears and shoots Morlun, causing him to crumble to dust.
In the "Spider-Man: The Other" storyline Morlun plagues Spider-Man by sudden and mysterious appearances, warning him that he is going to finish him. Spider-Man, for a reason not explainable by science, was dying, and Morlun wished to watch the causes and effects of his ailment. In a climactic battle, Morlun beats Spider-Man badly, ripping out one of his eyeballs, but leaves when the police arrive, opting for a more appropriate time to absorb Spider-Man's life force, leaving the web slinger at death's door.
Returning soon thereafter, Morlun enters Spider-Man's room in the Emergency Ward and prepares to feast, apparently unconcerned about the presence of the Avengers in the hospital. Mary Jane, who arrives at Peter's room just as Morlun is about to feed, tries to stop him, but he casually breaks her forearm and throws her off to one side. Spider-Man suddenly springs to life in a ferocious display of new powers, including stingers sprouting from his arms that he used to pin Morlun down, and fangs that he uses to rip Morlun's throat out. Morlun apparently dies once again, crumbling to dust.
2008 - present
During the 2008–2009 "Dark Reign" storyline, a secret group resurrects Morlun so that he can devour the Panther totem in danger with the Black Panther gravely injured and in turn weaken the nation of Wakanda. As a start, Morlun slays the long-term Panther adversary Man-Ape. He was defeated by the new Black Panther Shuri, who, with the help of a witch-doctor, sent Morlun into limbo as a sacrifice to ensure that T'Challa could be safely restored to health, where he was forced to battle the endless hordes of Death.
During the 2014 "Original Sin" storyline, Morlun senses the opening of the vault into which a girl named Cindy Moon was imprisoned, following her being bitten by the same spider that gave Spider-Man his superhuman abilities. Morlun refers to Moon as the Spider-Bride and the spinner at the center of the web.
Morlun will be a major antagonist of the November 2014 storyline "Spider-Verse". He has been shown killing the Spider-Man of the Marvel 1602 universe, while the Superior Spider-Man's efforts to use a dimension portal result in him witnessing various other realities where Spider-Men have been killed by what appears to be Morlun, including a Spider-Man who had joined the Fantastic Four and a Spider-Man from a variation of the House of M.
Powers and abilities
Morlun has the ability to drain the life force from other beings through physical contact. Depending on the power of the individual he drains, Morlun's powers and vitality can increase substantially. Without periodic feedings, Morlun will age and weaken.[volume & issue needed]
Morlun had some degree of superhuman strength and durability, the limits of which aren't fully known. Spider-Man states that Morlun hits harder than any foe he had ever battled, including the Hulk and Thor. When facing the Black Panther, Morlun survived a vibranium tipped nuclear missile fired at him and tore through an adamantium net, while in his fight with Spider-Man he survived being inside an exploding building with the only sign he had been present at the explosion being that his clothing and hair were incinerated, his hair returning to its usual length by the time the sun rose a few hours later. Morlun's physical speed, stamina, agility, and reflexes are sufficiently heightened to enable him to keep up with Spider-Man, as well as allowing him to climb several flights of stairs and cover several blocks in only slightly more time than it takes Spider-Man to reach the same destination by web-swinging.[volume & issue needed]
Morlun has walked the earth for centuries, if not longer, and is a relentless and remorseless stalker. Once Morlun has physically touched somebody, that person is forever "imprinted" in Morlun's senses, allowing him to track his quarry down from anywhere on Earth.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
Morlun's race, the Ancients, is a central focus of the 2006 novel Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours by Jim Butcher, which is set after the death of Morlun but before his resurrection and return. In the novel, Spider-Man confronts Mortia, Thanis and Malos, other beings like Morlun, who seek revenge for the death of their fellow Ancient. With Doctor Strange unable to help Spider-Man directly due to the Ancients' role in the natural order of things meaning that he could call in greater dangers if he used his powers against them, Spider-Man is forced to team up with the Rhino- who was initially hired by the other Ancients to help them before they attempted to feed on him after he accidentally hit them in a fight- and Black Cat to defeat them. Spider-Man also speculates that the Ancients' powers are based primarily on their concentration, with them being vulnerable during feeding because their attention is more focused- based on information provided by Dex, Morlun's old servant, who explains that Morlun insisted on privacy when he fed- hence why Ezekiel was able to make Morlun bleed when he punched Morlun just as Morlun had begun to feed on Peter; Morlun succumbed to Peter's blows after Peter injected himself with radiation because he was panicking at the unexpected turn of events. With this strategy in mind, Peter, Black Cat and Rhino were able to get the drop on the Ancients by separating them and striking them each individually while they were occupied by feeding on one of the three, rendering them unconscious long enough for Spider-Man to trap the Ancients in three unique gems, each one linked to a pocket prison dimension, that Doctor Strange indirectly gave him for this purpose.
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- Free Comic Book Day Vol 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy#Spider-Man: Staging Ground
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