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Spectacular Spider-Man #13

Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artists: Damion Scott (p), Rob Campanella (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
As the Lizard attacks Spider-Man we see over the course of this battle it becomes clear that Curt Conners is controlling the Lizard, and if his comments are to be believed, Curt claims that the Lizard persona was all an act. We then see the Lizard is a able to escape to the street, and he makes a beeline for his son, who he snatches away before Spider-Man can stop him. What follows is an emotional display, in which Curt comes to realize that he's not a well man, and as such he takes steps to see that he's locked away.

The Good:
While I'm not exactly excited by the idea that this issue is trying to sell to us about Curt Conners being in full control of the Lizard right from the word go, I will give Paul Jenkins for at least doing something different with the character. The next time the Lizard puts in an appearance, the writer will have to deal with the idea that the Lizard is really an act and that the actions of the creature are really Curt Conners. Since I doubt this is the first step down the path toward a kinder, gentler Lizard, the resultant writers will have to come up with a better line of reasoning for the Lizard's villainous activities, which hopefully will result in a more engaging character, as my biggest problem with the Lizard as a villain is that he's been a classic example of cookie-cutter villainy. I also rather enjoyed the scene where Curt decides enough is enough and that he needs to be locked away, as the scene where he commits the crime that gets him tossed into jail is a tension-filled scene. The battle between Spider-Man and the Lizard also holds up an a pretty entertaining tussle, as the battle is in constant motion and there's some powerful moments in the mix, like the scene where the Lizard collapses half the street, which forces Spider-Man to break out the webbing. The rooftop chase that follows is also makes for an intense reading experience, as it becomes easier to believe that Curt might do something that would forever mark him as a villain who is beyond redemption. The final accusations that the Lizard levels Spider-Man's way is also a powerful little look at how Peter's sense of responsibility might act to turn people against him.

Damion Scott turns in an impressive enough effort on this arc that I'm looking forward to his arrival as the new regular artist over on "Robin", as if nothing else he's shown a real talent for delivering action that jumps off the page. I mean there's a great visual sequence where we see Spider-Man's efforts to catch the Lizard in the sewers are hindered by a barrage of debris, and then the art delivers a lovely pull back where we see the impressive amount of damage that the Lizard managed to accomplish during his escape to the street. I also loved the way the Lizard's tail whips around the panels in the early stages of this fight, and the rooftop chase that plays out in the second half of the issue also has a nice sense of energy to it. The scene where Curt decides to take action that will get him locked away was also a solid bit of art, as it nicely sells the idea that he's struggling to keep control of the situation. I also have to say I loved the cover to this issue, as the cityscape backdrop is full of detail, and I loved the way the webbing interacted with the cover logo.

The Bad:
This issue tries to sell us on the idea that Curt Conners had full control over the Lizard all along but it simply doesn't do an impressive enough job of selling this idea for me to fully embrace it. I mean this idea changes Curt Conners from a tragic figure into a poorly motivated character who has decided to endanger his life and the life of his family countless times because he gets off on the freedom from responsibility that came with being the Lizard. This explanation also doesn't explain where the heck did the Lizard's "destroy all mammals" line of thinking come from, though I guess one could argue that this was all part of the act, to distance the Lizard persona from Curt Conners, and that the various master-plans that he came up with to change the environment so that reptiles would rule the planet were designed to fail, and consequentially keep Spider-Man from making the connection that he makes in this issue. However, it's clear that the writers that were working with the Lizard in previous stories clearly were operating under the impression that the Lizard persona was not Curt Conners, as almost every time he turned into the Lizard, endangering the lives of his son and his late wife were the first items on the agenda. I also have to take issue with the way this issue leaves things, as prison is an environment that generates a heighten sense of anxiety, and if nothing else the prison guards are likely going to be the ones who will bear the brunt of the Lizard's efforts to escape. If nothing else Spider-Man's sense of responsibility should have him debating whether he should give the prison a heads up about the potential danger in their midst.

It's So Easy Being Green:
The big idea that this issue introduces into Spider-Man's corner of the Marvel Universe is that the Lizard was all an act, and that when Curt Conners changed into the Lizard he was in full control of his actions. Now since none of the writers working with the character in the past ever had this idea in mind when they were using the Lizard as their big, bad villain, Paul Jenkins has a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to convincing me on this idea, and to tell the truth he doesn't really do a good job of it as almost all the questions that I had remain on the table. Still I will give the book credit for at least attempting to do something interesting with a villain that has never really grabbed my attention, and I must confess I'm looking forward to his next appearance, which is always a good sign. The issue also does a pretty good job of spelling out the tensions that have sprung into existence between Peter and Curt Conners, as it's nice to see there are some times when Peter's ever helpful hand is slapped away in disgust, as there are people in the world who would rankle under a friendship with someone who is so clearly one's better, and who acted as a constant reminder of your own shortcomings. The last page also looks like a springboard for an interesting future story-line.



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