The Amazing Spider-Man #688 Review


 The Lizard returns! With the aid of Morbius the Living Vampire, can Spidey put an end to the reptile menace once and for all? Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t..!

 

“NO TURNING BACK part 1: The Win Column”

Written by Dan Slott

Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Inked by Klaus Janson

Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna

Colored by Frank D’Armata

THE PLOT: In the immediate aftermath of Ends of the Earth, Mary Jane throws Peter a party at her new establishment titled “MJ’s”. Before he can relax however, Carlie calls our hero and informs him that Billy Connors’ grave is missing. Spidey immediately determines due to the witness’ testimony that Morbius is behind the heinous crime.

LONG STORY SHORT: Spidey confronts Morbius who claims that with Billy’s DNA, he’s concocted a cure for Curt Connors and hopefully himself through the process. With Max Modell, Spidey and Morbius find the Lizard in the sewers. After a fight, they manage to revert Lizzy back into Curt Connors. However, the mind is still very much the Lizard’s playing them for fools.

 

 

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed the heck out of this issue. Where was this Dan Slott during Ends of the Earth?

 This was really good. We have Spider-Man asserting himself through his emotional state, but for once it’s not spelled out for the readers like we’re idiots. The stakes are different from the Doctor Octopus arc, but are displayed more earnestly and honestly. This story works because whether you liked Shed or not, it changed the Lizard in a profound way. “No Turning Back” goes right back to that feeling of desperation and intensity that it needs for anybody to take it seriously. And damn it, I did. The best thing Slott does is start off and continue to inter-cut the issue with action scenes to keep the pace fast while naturalizing the exposition. Right at the top, Spider-Man and the Lizard are beating the crap out of each other underground in grimy sewers. Everything works in these scenes. The background is littered with skeletons and sewage water, reflecting the down and dirty nature of the fight. The dialogue, for once, is actually well done! Slott excels here because anything Spider-Man says is an honest reaction to the Lizard, while his inner monologue reflects on how he feels he’s failed to properly stop the Lizard from killing people. It’s a simple thing, but honestly it’s refreshing coming from this writer who has in the past literally had characters describe the violence happening to them as it’s happening as though people around them were blind. The situation lends itself to being taken seriously as well. There’s a strong Todd MacFarlene feel to the fight scenes as there has been for most Lizard stories since 1990, and it works well here. Not being a fan of cannibal Lizard, I looked back to those issues to see if his newfound carnivore tendencies began there, and they didn’t. I still don’t know when or why Lizard was changed to behaving like a dinosaur, but if nothing else it sells him as a threat. Lizard was always one of Peter’s most dangerous foes, but somehow that never falters or gets old. Case in point is made here.

The quieter scenes are handled fine without excess or needless jokes. All the characters sound like real people as opposed to stand-up comedians, and Mary Jane manages to be both supporting and light hearted. I like the idea of her owning a nightclub called “MJ’s”, because it feels like something she would do for herself, whether or not Peter’s in her life. Sure, she did it mainly to throw Peter a party, but it will now be a part of her character’s priorities from now until retcons or the writers forget. It’s a nice addition.

Carlie Cooper returns, but for a good reason. It seems as though Camuncoli gets to draws her the most, as his issues always seem to involve Carlie in an integral way. She’s been out of the books for a while now, and while I never expected her to be completely exiled from Amazing Spider-Man, it was a bit noticeable. Before people stat to cock their guns, there’s no hints of romantic rebounding between her and Peter. Aside from a scene of gentle jabbing by Mary Jane, Carlie’s a cop first and Peter’s ex second in this. I wonder if this will be how she’ll be used from now on. On the one hand it’s nice because her relationship with peter never worked at all. On the other hand, I would like to see her grow as she still has potential as a supporting character, especially now that she knows Peter’s secret.

Morbius kind of comes out of nowhere in this story, even considering the .1 issue where he reappeared. However he was used to good effect in this. He was diabolical in his grave robbing of Billy, but it was for the greater good. That type of Morbius characterization I can get behind, as opposed to the inconsistency of whether he’s a villain or not. He’s an anti-hero in this issue and it plays off well in comparison to Spidey’s outrage at what he’s done. Speaking of which, Spider-Man bum-rushing him in the lab would usually annoy me because there’s a lot of comics out these days where character jump into fights without any explanations for it. *coughAVENGERSVAX-MENcough* I can buy it here, though. Spidey’s still reeling from not only the Sable death but from the sudden drop in supporting character life security. Billy and Marla still weigh on his soul, and everything he’s done since Slott’s started his run has been to keep reminders of Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy away from his mind. Making myself clear, I really do not like how Slott has Spider-Man piss and moan about how everything’s his fault because it goes beyond reasoning the majority of the time. Mainly it’s just used for pathos and melodrama. In this instance, he’s just angry at himself in a very human way. He has the power, he applied responsibility, but it still wasn’t good enough. His talk with MJ was a great scene because the words “Power and Responsibility” were never uttered, thank God. Peter knows that MJ is right when she says he can’t save everyone, and I love the quote of him saying “Days when I believe I could (save everyone) were all that kept me from going crazy.” It’s very Batman in its human obsession, but manages to stay in Spider-Man’s realm. This is a really good handle on Peter’s psyche that reminds me of times where he failed to save Ezekial in JMS’ first story, or Jean DeWolfe in Spectacular Spider-Man. It’s not overplayed here, it’s honest. Please, please PLEASE Dan Slott, keep writing like this!

The art by Camuncoli for the most part was his usual competence. I’m still not crazy about him as a regular ASM artist. He’s good, but the Klaus Janson inks really keep me from fully embracing him as a flagship title artist. That being said, he kicked butt on the action scenes. Never in my mind did I doubt that Spidey was fighting for his life in an issue where it’s not advertised that he would be. Really stellar penciling from the man.

This wasn’t an out-and-out perfect issue for me, but honestly it’s close enough to get the full score. I enjoyed the hell outta this thing, and am on a high right now with this story. Here’s to the hopeful future.

5/5 webs

 

 

 

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(13) Comments

  1. Ultimate_SM_Fan

    This looks like a very interesting arc comin' up. It's pretty much gonna be the Lizard foolin' everybody, and then striking when everyone least expects it. Add on the fact that Morbius is on next issue's cover in an attacking position that probably show-cases he knew what was gonna happen with Conners. Just my theory, of course.

  2. Eddie

    Great review. This really was an excellent issue. I only have one gripe. When did Peter dye his hair?

  3. Phantom Roxas

    I love the altered tagline: "The world's tastiest super hero!" This is one story I'm actually really looking forward to for the trade.

  4. CrazyChris

    I've read this issue and I really don't see how it's 5/5 material. Maybe we interpret that score differently.

  5. Enigma_2099

    HO!!!! A 5 out of 5?!?!?! From Donovan Grant!?!?! But... he doesn't do that! Does he? But in all seriousness, let's point out that positive reviews aren't as rare as they claim they are...

  6. Erik Lexie

    Gotta disagree with you on one thing there, Brian -- the best looking Carlie has gotta be Caselli's. And not just because he's my favorite of the rotating spider artists... http://www.comicbookresources.com/assets/images/preview/ab43395i10251/prv10251_pg1.jpg I'm with you on Camuncoli's Peter, I think he uses that blockiness for too many male characters in general. No denying his Spidey fights always look terrific though.

  7. Regless

    Peter Parker! Where ya been buddy. It feels like I missed you with during that whole doc oc thing...

  8. Brian Bradley

    Nice review, and both of you guys with the quickness today. Well done. I was a big fan of this art, especially the tones of the colors used in the sewers during Spidey and Lizard's fight. But, I can not get behind his Peter at all. I don't think he looks like Peter at all. Sure Peter should look stronger at this point, but he looks more like a thick-necked jock than Peter Parker. Ah well, his Carlie Cooper may be the best looking Carlie out there though. Big fan of her in this issue, and I enjoyed Mary Jane's comments about them bonding over Peter. I know I have nothing invested in AvX, but for some reason when you called it out on it's pointless fighting (which I can't disagree with) I felt like I somehow failed everybody just because I'm reviewing it. sad.

  9. Erik Lexie

    I was happy to see you liked this issue too -- I was afraid it was just me and that it couldn't have gone from EotE to something this good.

  10. Peter

    I think the main thing here is that Slott is back in his element, no more globe-trotting or epic city-wide scale to worry about. It's a smaller, more intimate story, a pissed-off emotionally-wrecked Spidey, trying to rescue someone he used to see(and perhaps still does) as a friend. It's a darker story, so there's not a lot of the sometimes overbearing cartoony vibe that are in some of Slott's other stories. While I saw the twist ending coming(the solicits pretty much spell it all out), I have no idea what the heck is going to happen in these next three issues...and I like that. I think this is gonna be a very good one.

  11. Stuart Green

    I haven't been a fan of what Marvel did with the Lizard since "Quality of Life". Ever since Martha Connors died, the Lizard's comic stories just got worse and worse. I also don't like that Morbius dug up the grave of Billy Connors and DISSECTED ON THE BODY OF A CHILD to come up with an antidote to the Lizard. Marvel must REALLY hate Billy Connors. He regressed in age, he became Lizard Jr., then he was attacked and eaten by the Lizard. Now his corpse has been stolen, cut open and studied by a living vampire. There are no words, people. This "new" twist with Lizard's mind in Connors' body also bugs me, because it seems Connors is actually dead and we just have the Lizard, which doesn't seem right. I think they should've just stopped using the Connors family altogether after "Lifeline": Connors got his arm back, he was cured of the Lizard (allegedly) and he was with his family to live a normal life. Instead of "happily ever after" for the Connors family, Connors lost his arm again, all three of the Connors are now long-since dead and only the Lizard is left, which isn't as interesting. Too bad. The Lizard's one of my favorite classic Spider-Man villains and this is what he's become? Ugh.

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