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|First appearance||The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #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.
Morlun mysteriously returned months later and plagued Spider-Man by sudden and mysterious appearances, warning him that he was coming to finish him. Spider-Man, for a reason not explainable by science, was dying, and Morlun hung back to watch the causes and effects of his ailment. Finally, Morlun struck, and in a climactic battle, Morlun beat Spider-Man badly. Morlun left when the police arrived, opting for a more appropriate time to absorb Spider-Man's life force, leaving the web slinger at death's door with only one eye.
Returning soon thereafter, Morlun entered Spider-Man's room in the Emergency Ward and prepared to feast, apparently unconcerned about the presence of the Avengers (of the New Avengers line-up) in the hospital to check up on their teammate - Captain America, Iron Man and Luke Cage had come in the front door while Mary Jane and an uncostumed Jessica Drew snuck in around the back. Mary Jane, who arrived at Peter's room just as Morlun was about to feed, tried to stop him, but he casually broke her forearm and threw her off to one side. As it appeared he would kill her, Spider-Man suddenly sprung to life in a ferocious display of mysterious new powers, including stingers sprouting from his arms that he used to pin Morlun down, and fangs that he used to rip Morlun's throat out. Morlun apparently died once again, crumbling to dust, weakly saying that it wasn't supposed to be this way.
During the 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, where he was forced to battle the endless hordes of Death.
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.
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 would 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. 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.
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.
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, the group 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.
- The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #30
- The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #30
- The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #32
- The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #32
- The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #33
- The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #36
- The Amazing Spider-Man #526
- Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #3
- Black Panther vol. 5 #3-6