With Connors’s body, the Lizard tries to make the best of his situation under Spider-Man and Morbius’ custody. Taking advantage of the Living Vampire’s weakness, the reptilian menace distracts Spider-Man after Morbius bites one of Peter’s co-workers!
“No Turning Back part 2: COLD BLOODED”
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inked by Klaus Janson
Colored by Frank D’Armata
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna (100th issue milestone)
THE PLOT: Trapped inside Curt Connors’ body, the Lizard quickly fools Spider-Man, Morbius and the Horizon Labs scientists into thinking that he’s completely cured. Recognizing Morbius’ hunger for plasm-I mean, BLOOD, Lizard concocts a gas which seeps into the ventilation shaft. Unable to control his impulses, Morbius bites Sanjani which prompts Spider-Man to chase him across town.
LONG STORY SHORT: Madame Web senses a disturbance in the force and runs off to warn Spider-Man about visions in her Spiritual Web. Back at the lab, Connors’ arm regrows but he still remains human. Injecting Max Modell with science, Lizard transforms him into the Lizard in an attempt to cure his “cure”.
MY THOUGHTS: Whilst not as sharp as last week’s issue, the story remains strong with the intensity of the Lizard’s vicious personality juxtaposed against Spider-Man bad mood in dealing with both him and Morbius. The Lizard is shown to be both primitive and cunning, and his goals and how he goes about them in a way reflect that. Slott’s writing of the Lizard’s mind geared a bit towards the moustache twirling flavor of his Doc Ock. However as a personality the Lizard proves different enough that it’s neither redundant nor as annoying.
The pacing in this issue was good, although I felt that more could’ve happened. The confined enviornment of the Horizon offices contrast to the last issue which was all over the map in terms of scene backgrounds. This in a way feels like the story slowed to a more prolonged pace, to such a point that I was surprised to see it end where it did. This is understandably a story mainly targeted at people who saw the recent movie, and thankfully Slott does a better job with what could’ve been a phoned in tie-in. At the same time, this issue does feel as though it’s going for the science-thriller sensibilities that the ASM movie had in its second act. It’s h0nest and understandable considering the plot, but the coincedence is big enough that it stops short of taking me out of the story. It’s fine, but I wish this were written a bit better around those sensibilities.
This issue also follows the unfortunate trope of scientists appearing almost actively stupid in the face of oddities when dealing with a monster. In fairness, Lizard does play the role of Connors’ well enough that I don’t think it would be too obvious that he was evil. At the same time, we’re inundated with his inner monolgue full of nasty, violent thoughts which contrast to the nonplussed demeanors of Spider-Man and the scientists. Slott’s suceeding at what he’s going for here, but I do still find it annoying. Maybe it’s because Max Modell has been written like such a dope in the past few stories. His clinical, scientific persona doesn’t make him very interesting as a character in his own right. Because of this, he comes off as almost willingly ignorant whenever something goes wrong. It’s a lot like the .1 issue with Morbius when he trusted the guy way too much to be given credibility. Spider-Man on the other hand is appropriately the most interesting character because he’s still very on edge after the last couple of issues. I’ve yet to feel that he’s been written out of character or written too angry to be thinking straight.
Still, I do have to gripe about the scene when Morbius sucks on Sanjani. His bloodlust is caused by pink smoke floating out of the vents, yet no one aside from Morbius can see nor smell it, even after it’s too late. That’s a plot contrivance to get the characters to where the story needs them to go, but it’s not believable that in the panel of Morbius biting Sanjani, he’s surrounded by pink smoke yet no one calls attention to it. I could buy Spider-Man reacting the way he did, but Max Modell or someone else could’ve pointed out the chemical agent which obviously was meant to turn Morbius against them. That’s a big brain fart on the story’s end.
I liked the second half of the book a lot. Spider-Man’s freakout was great in that he didn’t say a word when he decked Morbius. It was also great to see him bug out on Uatu. He didn’t want to risk anyone else’s life, while still not wanting Morbius killed either. Again, Slott does well here because it’s not spelled out on the page but rather all inferred through Peter’s actions. He can barely contain this situation as it is, so seeing his frustration manifested through violent action when things become exacerbated was fun. Same with the scene when Lizard briefly mistake Uatu for Billy. For someone who didn’t at first even remember who Billy was, this was certainly intriguing and I’m excited see where it goes in the next issue.
I didn’t care for the Madame Web scene, mainly because her daughter Rachel was annoying. Realistic or not, an annoying teenager is still unpleasant to read. She also looks like the Wendy’s mascot. Of her vision, the one person that was grabbed my interest was somebody who looked like the Tarantula. He had the mask, and a white goatee. Last I heard, he was dead after transforming into a giant spider, so this will be an interesting development if that’s who it turns out to be.
The ending was nice because it was creepy in how dissapointed Connors (Lizard) was in his arm returning suddenly. He immediately turns on Modell and transforms him into a Lizard, and chomps on a rat. The quick jump he made on Modell showed that the Lizard is not just a Spidey villian. He’s very evil, and this story is proving it. I still don’t like the cannibal Lizard, as it doesn’t make any sense, but whatever.
The art bugged my in this issue. I’m used to Camuncoli by now in his ASM runs, but this one particularly came off as a bit rushed. I mostly blame Klaus Janson’s inks, because there were several panels where it looked just like his art, and not very good art at that. Lizard/Connors’ facial expressions were too hatchy and sketchy, and most everyone looks ugly. It’s not horrible art, but not as fun as last issue.
Which is a basic summation of #689. It wasn’t as good, but it’s still a solid story overall. I enjoyed the issue, and hope that part three maintains this minimum of quality.