The Lizard has been reverted to Connors form, but is still very much the Lizard, and he starts exacting his revenge on the puny mammals who’ve done this to him. While I didn’t feel this was quite as strong as last issue, Slott’s latest story has still got me riveted.
The Amazing Spider-Man #689
Words by Dan Slott
Pencils by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks by Klaus Janson
Colors by Frank D’Armata
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Unexpectedly, Slott is turning this into the most interesting take we’ve seen on the Lizard in decades. He’s the most cunning, ruthless, and dare I say it, believable I can remember seeing him. Believable, yes, because this is the first time that I have ever felt the Lizard had a reason for hating humans that I could actually understand: he feels crippled and trapped, reverted to an inferior shape against his will. It’s especially creepy because of his cunning use of his Connors disguise to execute his plans.
It really is a wonderfully ironic twist. The Lizard has always been a threat because he was a good man in the grip of a dark condition that changed him for the worse; now he’s the monster in the grip of Connors’s form, and that reversal of roles has made him dangerous in a completely new way. We’ve really never seen the Lizard’s wits used as his primary weapon against Spider-Man. He employs divide and conquer tactics by first driving Morbius into a blood frenzy and then sending Spider-Man after him, then isolating himself with Max at Horizon allegedly to work on curing the living vampire’s condition. Camuncoli also does a great job of making this Lizard-minded incarnation of Dr. Connors look like the madman he should be, and is even careful only to do it when other characters aren’t watching him. It’s touches like this that really sell him as a villain here.
The great web itself is unraveling.
Spider-Man is on the warpath when he goes after Morbius. My sense is that some readers may object to his apparently excessive anger and his refusal to listen to Morbius’s protests that he was manipulated into biting Sajani. In Slott’s last Morbius story, Spidey was indeed a bit boneheaded when he went after Morbius, but in this case I think it’s a lot more reasonable. He has been through a lot, is exhausted, was initially skeptical of Morbius’s reliability, and is already upset at the mounting levels of stress that his super hero career has been putting on him lately. We’ve seen that Spider-Man can really fly off the handle in the past when he’s got a reason to be mad, and he has done so with the intention of killing before, so I find this outburst believable.
Slott has been building up to something for a while — obviously that something is going to be the big event of issue 700 — and an increasing part of it is that Peter’s frustration level is rising. I think that his execution in this area has been pretty up and down; sometimes he’s made Spidey appear to be more naive and less accomplished of a hero than he really should be, but I’m not automatically opposed to the notion of putting him through experiences that are especially hard and pushing him to a breaking point. No matter how harded and experienced he is, there is always a point where something is too much for someone, and I think it’s important never to stop emphasizing how human he really is.
Slott did insert another of his two-page distractions in this issue, a tiny interlude with Madame Webb having a premonition she apparently needs to warn Peter about. It’s obvious that this, too, is buildup to whatever great fulcrum we’re approaching in the book’s history; I just hate how these things seem to come out of nowhere right in the middle of a story. Why not save the Madame Webb premonitions for the end of this four-part Lizard arc, as sort of a “next story” preview, so that they won’t feel like out of place interruptions?
I do feel that Slott is regarding everything he’s writing at this point as part of one larger arc. And overall I appreciate that, because for much of his run I’ve missed having a sense that the title was progressing towards something. For better or worse, Amazing Spider-Man really is moving forward now, and it’s nice to have a sense of curiosity and anticipation about the future, even if we’ve all got ample reason (past experience) to doubt whether we’ll be happy with that future.
Whatever may be ahead, right now I’m really enjoying reading a Spidey story that I feel is well-told and offers a genuinely interesting new take on a classic villain. That’s a hard maneuver to pull off after 50 years of reuse.
Pros: The Connors Lizard is very well executed this issue — creepy, deadly and hateful. The pacing remains strong and the issue really keeps the reader eager to find out what’s happening next.
Cons: I’m not crazy about the Madame Webb interlude, but oh well. That’s the way Slott builds up to future stories, it seems.