Comic Book Addiction: Vampirism
For as long as mankind has discovered mind-altering substances, whether through narcotics or alcohol, there has been addiction: a dependence on a psychoactive substance in such a way that all other priorities are replaced with getting more of that substance.
Addiction is indiscriminate: it does not care about gender, skin color, likes or dislikes, or even age. In fact, even the world of fantasy is incapable of escaping the scourge of addiction. Many characters in popular and underground comic books also suffer from addiction in one form or another.
One of the most notable and easy-to-point-out examples of this are vampires. These undead creatures have taken many forms in pop-culture, from the suave, menacing Dracula from Bram Stoker’s original story to the teenage romances like Twilight. Comic books have also featured vampires in different forms through Marvel’s Blade, the Spider-Man villain Michael Morbius, and the classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
How Do Vampires Reflect Addiction?
This simple question can be resolved with an equally simple answer: they mirror addiction in almost every way imaginable. When an addiction takes hold of the body, the addict has no choice but to comply with the substance in question. Family, work, relationships, and finances all take last place to the addiction, with withdrawal symptoms making any attempt at straying from the addiction painful.
Likewise, vampirism inflicts an addiction on the victim. They can no longer go out amongst “normal people” or society; they look gaunt, malnourished, and pale; the light of the sun, a healthy source of vitamin D and a necessary component for plant life/oxygen, causes burning pain to any exposed surface; most of all, the vampire must regularly feed off of blood, necessary for human life, in order to survive.
These symptoms greatly mimic the side-effects, both physical and psychological, of addiction. The longer a vampire goes without blood, their abused substance, the sicker they look and feel and can only go back to their full strength when they feed. In this same way, many addicts feel as if they cannot function properly without alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or any other substance that they abuse.
They are not “at their full strength” without their drug.
Michael Morbius and Blade
In Marvel comics there are two characters who continuously pop up are Michael Morbius and Blade, AKA Eric Brooks. Morbius started as a Nobel Prize winning biochemist with a rare blood disorder. This disorder afflicted his life such to the point that he tried to cure it with experiments involving vampire bats and electroshock therapy. These experiments ended up turning Morbius into an actual vampire, forcing him to require human blood for survival and even his physical appearance was greatly altered.
Morbius acted as a villain to Spider-Man for many years and was even the vampire who bit the incredibly skilled hunter, Eric Brooks. Now known as Blade, Eric Brooks continued hunting other vampires and resisting his need for human blood. Due to an enzyme in his blood, formed as a result of his mother being bitten by a vampire while pregnant, Blade only took on most of the characteristics of vampirism. While he gained the strength, speed, agility, and blood-lust, he did not have the weakness to sunlight.
So why is this important? Because it shows how anyone can be affected by an addiction. From a Nobel Prize winner to a master-vampire hunter, addiction is ruthless. In one instance the addiction was a result of meddling in dangerous experiments; a “road to hell paved is paved with good intentions” sort of scenario. While the other was inflicted upon the victim while they were simply going about their daily work-day. The most important thing is that both of them got help.
Blade met a man named Abraham Whistler who helped him with a special serum that would counteract the desire for blood. Before meeting Whistler, Blade fed off of rats and other vermin in order to survive, intent on not giving in entirely and feeding on humans. Whistler also helped Blade build up tolerance to being without blood, and giving him ways to resist the Thirst.
While Morbius spent the majority of his comic-book career as a Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic 4 villain, he does eventually get help through Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. Free of the curse of bloodlust, Morbius began helping others whom he had afflicted with vampirism.
The bottom line here is that no matter the stage or severity of the addiction, no matter how long someone has been addicted, no matter how bad things have become, it is never too late to get help.