For the first time in a long time, I’m not feeling a Dan-Slott-penned issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it and I’m still an avid supporter of Slott. This particular issue just seemed to miss the mark. I’ll admit, I’m not really stoked on the whole Lizard arc. I realize comics are usually planned in advance, but this seems like a story shoehorned in to coincide with the (awful) movie. With that in mind, I tried to look at Amazing Spider-Man #690 with fresh eyes and an open mind.
Curt Connors, a.k.a. The Lizard, is attempting to perfect a formula that will return him to his reptilian state. The formula allows Connors to grow a new arm, but that’s it. Each time the new arm grows but the Lizard transformation doesn’t happen, Connors cuts off the new arm and feeds it to Horizon Labs head honcho Max Modell. Modell has recently been turned into a giant lizard after Connors tried experimenting on him.
Switch from there to Spider-Man, who is engaged in fisticuffs with Morbius The Living Vampire. Morbius has gone right over the deep end, thanks to a little better living through chemistry secretly given to him by Dr. Connors. Now, Morbius is running rampant, biting, sucking blood and generally running amok.
Spider-Man is about to beat the holy hell out of the long suffering creature of the night, when suddenly the new and improved Madame Web appears and gets all cryptic on the old web-head. Something bad is coming, something from Horizon Labs that will spell the end for us all. Naturally, Madame Web has no idea what this will be. Spider-Man swings back just in time to find a whole gaggle of giant lizards attacking the Horizon Labs’ crew. At the end, Curt Connors is about to inject himself with the serum that will return him to his lizard state. Then, in the last panel, he has a change of heart.
Quite simply, there is too much going on here. Morbius went from center stage to a side act simply so the Lizard could get into the picture. Now, the fight with Morbius seems like a quick tie-up of a story that deserves a better ending. The Lizard story is getting way too off the rails. Lizard army? Connors growing and chopping his arm off, the fact that he solves his serum problem by playing a video game, it’s all just a bit too much. Did I mention that Kingpin, Hobgoblin and some shmuck that’s stealing the spider-sense dampeners were also tossed in? Slott is usually the king of keeping multiple storylines flowing, but here, it gets away from him.
I must also call foul on the whole Madame Web thing. Am I the only person growing weary of the all-powerful psychic who decides that being cryptic is much better than actually telling the person what they’re talking about? It can’t be both ways. Madame Web can’t be so all-powerful that Spider-Man must heed her every warning as gospel, but then too weak to tell him what is going on clearly and concisely. It makes her more of a plot device and less of a character. When the plot calls for her physic powers, then she is the ultimate spider guide. When we need things to stay mysterious then she has no idea what she’s talking about.
The art from Giuseppe Camuncoli doesn’t help matters. I get what the artist is trying to do in these panels but it doesn’t work. Gamuncoli’s weirdly stringy style of penciling mixed with his abundance of small details just comes off as sloppy. The giant Lizards look goofy as opposed to scary, and the human faces are either overdone (Curt Conners) or underdeveloped (Carlie Cooper). For lack of a better term, the entirety of Camuncoli’s art comes off as jittery.
Amazing Spider-Man #690 is not Dan Slott’s best work but hey, everybody has an off day.
(3 Story, 2 Art)