As Spider-Man battles Morbius, the Living Vampire in the streets of New York, The Lizard disguised as Curt Connors makes his way through the Horizon Labs staff until he finally perfects his formula to regain his reptilian form. But can the ghost of Billy Connors persuade him to do otherwise?
“No Turning Back part 3: Natural State”
Written by Dan Slott
Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inked by Klaus Janson, Dan Green and Giuseppe Camuncoli
Colored by Frank D’Armata
Lettered by VC’s Chris Eliopoulos
THE PLOT: As Spider-Man and Morbius fight alongside the rooftops and streets of New York, Madame Web warns Spidey that terrible things will happen if he does not get back to Horizon Labs at once. Peter takes down the Living Vampire and webs swings back to the Lab as fast as possible.
LONG STORY SHORT: Meanwhile the Lizard in his Connors form has been drugging Peter’s colleagues and turning them into lizards one by one. Throughout the process however, various aspects of the human condition such as food, music and game play have slowly turned the idea of staying as a human over to the forefront of his mind. Coupled with this is the fact that every time he sees Uatu Jackson, he has images of Billy.
MY THOUGHTS: This story’s slowly going downhill since it’s spectacular first part, but it manages to keep its head above water when it counts. As the main thrust of the plot is revealing itself to be a cliched waste of time, Spider-Man is still left to be an interesting enough protagonist to see what happens to him next, despite the fact that he takes a back seat to the main brunt of the action. Taking central stage here is the Lizard, which is both a good and bad thing in my opinion.
I think that the idea of the Lizard in Connors’ corporal form is a fresh and intriguing premise. It’s a story idea that switches up the conventions of the Jekyll/Hyde theme with the character and promises a whole glut of potential that will probably be squandered after the issue ends with the revelation that the Lizard’s considering to remain a human. It’s not a bad idea, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired. I have a hard time buying that the Lizard is totally unfamiliar with concepts like music, food and recreational game play. Sure, when did he ever have time to get used to it before. It still assumes a lot, seeing as how he’s using and has used Connors’ brain for his schemes in the past. If he can recall scientific theories then he can recall human sensibilities, even if he can’t understand how they feel. Slott’s clearly going for that, but it can’t help but feel cheesy. Whether or not Lizard will renege on his plan to keep his humanity or not, I’m not buying it as a viable conflict for the character. Perhaps it’s the concept or perhaps it’s the execution of introducing certain things to him. Either way, my reaction when reaching the final page of Lizard saying “Once I add the proper amount, I can be restored to my rightful form. But is that…really what I want?” was yelling “Really?” It could be because the very notion of introducing elements of the human experience to the Lizard will require us to feel sympathy for him sooner or later, as though we’re supposed to feel bad for him because he enjoys Cajun flavored chips. It’s an interesting idea, but the way Slott’s going about it feels phoned in.
On the other hand, I am continuously enjoying Spider-Man’s frustrated temperament in this story. He’s not going over the line, and he’s not being written like a bull in a china shop. I really enjoyed how he took down Morbius and just demanded to be let off from the cops by pulling out his Avengers card. It’s keeping any possible false tension with his temperament from bogging down the story.
Speaking of bogging down the story, Slott needs to cool it with Madame Web. Seriously, quit using her. I don’t know if Slott’s as big a fan of the 1994 cartoon as I am, but even fans of that show rightfully acknowledge that Madame Web was incredibly annoying. Her entire gimmick is moving the plot along in vague and irritating ways with the smuggest attitude possible. Spider-Man calls her on it, but it doesn’t take away the fact that she doesn’t need to be in the story.
Actually I take that back. After Grim Hunt, I can imagine no one in the Marvel Offices besides the ASM writers to care to use her, but I wish she were being used differently.
Camuncoli’s art is pretty nice in this issue. He excels with the faces, particularly both Connors’ and the visions of Billy the Lizard has. Grady looks a bit weird with his strange goatee/soul patch thing, but aside from that the art was solid.
Overall this issue isn’t all that different or even better than the last one. The story’s still decent but Slott’s going for some real shmaltz with the Lizard discovering feelings for the first time probably.