Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #6

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

The Lizard doesn't fit into this month's theme of copycats though he's certainly been the inspiration for other imitations. Stegron the Dinosaur Man, the Iguana, the Spider-Lizard, and the homicidal Lizard (retconned into a duplicate spawned from the original) all owe their existence to the scaly guy in the white lab coat introduced by Stan and Steve back in 1963. Here is his first appearance.

In Detail...

"Face-To-Face with... the Lizard!"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #6
Nov 1963 : SMURF 006.500 : SM Title
Summary: First Lizard
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Steve Ditko
Inker:  Steve Ditko
Cover Art:  Steve Ditko
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Issue
Review
 Reprinted In: Marvel Masterworks #1
 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus #1
 Reprinted In: Pocket Book: Spider-Man Classics (Vol. 1)
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #143
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #3
 Partially Reprinted In: Pow! #13
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Classics #7
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Collectible Series (Newspaper) #12
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Collectible Series (Newspaper) #13
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #1
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Pocket Book #8
 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man #6 (Wal*Mart ASM Movie Promo)
 Reprinted In: Amazing Spider-Man: Secret Origins
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Vintage Annual (UK)
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Betty Brant, Flash Thompson, Jameson, J. Jonah, Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, Lizard (1st)

Three guys are hanging out in the Florida Everglades when a human-sized Lizard accosts them. This creature is green and scaly and has a tail but it also wears a black turtleneck, purple pants and a white lab coat. And it talks! (It even uses snazzy words like "Begone!") It tries to chase the men away, claiming the swamp as its own. One of the trio picks up a rifle and shoots the Lizard but the bullets have no effect. At least not the effect he's looking for. All they do is tic the Lizard off. He rips a huge tree out of the ground and threatens the men with it. The three men run for their lives.

After this encounter, the story of a human-sized Lizard sweeps the country. Even in New York, it is the main story in the newspaper. As a newsy hawks papers on a street corner, a web sneaks down from above and snags the top newspaper on the pile. (A second web leaves some money behind, in case you were wondering if Spidey was copping the paper without paying.) Spider-Man wants to read about the Lizard for himself. And there it is... a huge headline in the Daily Bugle that reads, "The Bugle Challenges Spider-Man to Defeat the Lizard!" Our hero's reaction to this? "What kind of cornball gag is this? Every publicity-mad nut and his brother try to challenge me to something or other!" But this doesn't mean he's uninterested. He decides to swing over to the Daily Bugle, change back into his civvies, and see if Jolly Jonah Jameson will send him to Florida to take photographs of the Lizard.

But, at the Bugle, he runs into a problem. Jonah tells him that he never intended his "challenge" to be anything other than a gimmick to sell papers. He declares that "The Lizard is probably just a phony anyway" and tells Peter, "I'm not paying you to waste time." Pete tries to sweeten the pot by implying that Spidey may actually appear in Florida to fight the Lizard. Jameson scoffs at the possibility. "If there really is a giant Lizard down south, Spider-Man will never tackle him" he says, "He'd rather stay here, fighting two-bit hoods and making a rep for himself." Disappointed, Peter leaves JJ's office. Outside Jonah's secretary Betty Brant tells Pete she thinks he should be sent to cover the story. "It might be a real scoop!" she says. Pete thanks her for seeing things his way. "I sure wish you were the publisher, instead of just being his secretary," he says.

Pete figures he should learn more about lizards, just in case he faces the Lizard, so he heads down to the Natural History Museum to scope out the dinosaur exhibit. (And check out the casual look! Pete still has his blue slacks and jacket but his white shirt and red tie are replaced with a black turtleneck. The first time we've seen Peter Parker out and about without his tie!) Flash Thompson and Liz Allen are there too. Flash complains about the arrival of "bookworm Parker" but Liz tells him to "hush". She wants to hear the tour guide's lecture.

While the guide explains that dinosaur hides "were so thick... no gun smaller than a cannon could injure them", Pete's spider-sense tingles. He looks behind him and sees two men coming from another room. He can sense that these fellows have stolen something. (The fact that one of them wears a green suit with a loud red tie while the other wears the same tweed hat that all of Ditko's burglars seem to wear may be the tip-off.) And he is right. The men have stolen "the idol's ruby" and are now trying to "scram". But they don't like the way the kid with half a Spider-Man mask on is looking at them. (Okay, okay, I'm just kidding. Pete isn't wearing half a mask, of course. It's just that very nifty special effect Steve Ditko whipped up to show us that Pete is using his spider abilities even when he is dressed in his civvies. It is this odd image that, growing up with these early issues, has stuck with me more than anything else.)

Red Tie thinks Pete is harmless but Tweed Hat reaches for his gun. Then Peter sneaks off into another room, so the crooks decide he's not worth worrying about. Little do they know, Pete has snuck off to switch to his Spider-Man costume. (And look where he's changing! Some room with... stuffed gorillas in it? Or Bigfoot? Or what?)

While Peter is gone, things come to a head. A museum guard who witnessed the theft tries to apprehend the men but they each pull a gun. Red Tie grabs a hostage... Liz Allen! Spidey watches all this perched on the wall in the other room, leaning down and peeking through the connecting archway just below him. The crooks hold off the guard and the others as they take Liz with them and carefully back out of the room. But when they pass through the archway, Spider-Man leaps down and quickly separates them from Liz. With a quick one-two, he punches the two bad guys into unconsciousness. Then he picks Liz up in his arms. When Liz gushes that he saved her from the gunmen, Spidey tells her, "The pleasure was all mine, blue-eyes." He sets her down and swings away, returning moments later in his regular clothes and glasses. As Pete enters, Flash is still trying to snap Liz out of her swoon. "All I can remember are Spider-Man's strong arms around me!" she sighs. As Liz goes on ("He saved me! He called me blue eyes!") Flash turns to Peter and says, "Competition like you I can handle, Parker! But what do I do about Spider-Man?" Peter only has one word of advice... "Worry!"

Just then, a young boy walks by listening to a transistor radio and Pete overhears a news report about Spider-Man avoiding a confrontation with the Lizard. (Hey, remember the old transistor radio that people would hold up to their ears as they walked along? It usually had a leather case with holes in it where the speaker was so you could listen to it right through the case! Cool, huh? Those were the days.) As far as Pete's concerned, that news report "settles it!" He's got to find some way to get down to Florida to face the Lizard.

Not long after, J. Jonah Jameson is busy working at his desk when the spider-signal shines right down in front of him. When Jonah reaches for his intercom to contact Betty Brant, a stream of webbing blocks his way. Immediately, Jolly Jonah gets up and runs for it but another web stream snags his back and lifts him off the ground. Spider-Man enters the room from the window and dangles from the ceiling. He attaches the end of his web so that JJJ is dangling from the ceiling, too. Then, he sets his plan in motion. He informs Jonah that he plans to "accept the Lizard's challenge". (Well, it's not strictly the Lizard's challenge. He's not down there calling out Spider-Man. He's just kicking people off his lawn.) "If you want to see what I can really do," Spidey adds, "You'd better send a photographer to Florida to cover the story." Then he takes his leave, (telling Jonah "my web [will] loosen in a minute") hoping that he has said enough to get Jonah to send Peter Parker to Florida, since he doesn't have enough money to get there on his own.

As soon as Spidey leaves, Betty Brant walks in and sees Jonah hanging from the ceiling. He tells her to call Peter Parker. He also tells her to hurry up and put some soft cushions under him before the webbing dissolves. On the roof across the way, Spidey changes back to Peter Parker. Even from over there, he can hear the "whump!" of Jonah's tumble. "Never mind those *!?+! cushions!" he hears the editor say. (That must be the fast-acting-dissolves-in-five-minutes webbing.) Five minutes later, Pete is standing at Betty Brant's desk. He is just on the verge of asking Betty for a date (and Betty is on the verge of accepting) when Jonah comes out of his office and yells at Peter to "get in here!" In the office, JJJ tells Pete that he has decided to send him to Florida to get pics of Spidey and the Lizard. Pete is very happy to hear it. He's less happy about the rest of the news. "It's such a big story", Jonah has decided to go with him! "Besides, I can use a trip to Florida", says JJ.

Peter is suddenly less enthusiastic. He wonders how he'll ever get away to change to Spider-Man with Jonah around. Hesitantly, he tells Jameson he must first get permission from his Aunt May. So, Peter heads home and asks May and she turns him down flat. She won't let Pete near Florida with that "horrible Lizard running loose down there". But when Peter tells her that J. Jonah Jameson will be coming along, May quickly changes her tune. If that "nice man [Peter does] part-time work for" is going along, May is sure "he'll take good care of [Pete]". She gives her consent.

The next day, Jonah and Peter board a plane for Florida. Pete has brought along "clippings about the Lizard and maps of the area where he's been seen" and he studies these on the plane. One of the clippings is a feature on Dr. Curtis Connors who is mentioned as a "Reptile Expert". Pete notices that Dr. Connors lives near the Everglades and may be a good person to look up. When they arrive in Florida, Peter tells Jonah he must go buy "film and equipment" (Equipment? Didn't he even bring his camera?) and that he will meet his boss in the hotel. A grumbling Jameson wonders why Pete didn't "buy that junk in New York instead of doing it here on my time?" Because if he had, he wouldn't be able to sneak off and change to Spider-Man, that's why!

Freshly changed, Spider-Man makes his way to the area frequented by the Lizard. He notices that the police have roadblocks up but this has no effect on him. He simply webslings overhead and no one even notices him. No one fully human, that is. Not far away, in the swamps, the Lizard watches Spidey's arrival, recognizes him as a threat, and plans an ambush. The wall-crawler has left his webs and is slogging along in the swamp on foot. He doesn't like the feel of things. "It's too quiet here!" he declares, "Unnaturally quiet!" As he walks by a pond, his spider-sense tingles but he doesn't see anything around that could trigger it. Then, a scaly green hand emerges from the pool, grabs Spidey by the foot, and pulls him into the water. As he is pulled to the bottom of the pool, Spidey sees that his opponent is a large reptile in a lab coat. "It's him!" he thinks. He's found him. "The Lizard!" First, though, the webhead must shake loose of the Lizard's grip and free himself from drowning. He grabs "a glob of mud" from the bottom of the pond and shoves it into the Lizard's face. The creature releases him. The two opponents surface simultaneously.

They face off against each other. The Lizard warns Spidey that "the swampland is mine" and tells the web-slinger that he has doomed himself by ignoring this proclamation. Spidey scoffs at him ("Every time I turn around I get doomed by someone else!"), then must leap up in the air to avoid a swipe by the Lizard's tail. (The swipe is powerful enough to chop down the tree just behind the wall-crawler.) Spidey has time to register two impressions. One is that the Lizard is fast. The other is that the Lizard doesn't seem to be wearing a disguise. "That grotesque form is really him!" In retaliation, the web-spinner grabs the Lizard by the tail but, with a flick of that big green appendage, the reptile-man flings Spider-Man high over the trees and nearly half a mile away. The high branches break Spidey's fall and, from that height, he can see a house in the distance. He figures it must belong to Dr. Connors so he travels over there to see if he can get advice and to warn the Doc that the Lizard is nearby.

When Spidey arrives, he peeks in a window. Inside is a woman sitting on a bed and crying. He hates to interrupt but he still has to warn the household about the Lizard so he pops in the window and tells the woman he is there to help. He explains that he wished to talk to her husband but now thinks everyone in the house must leave to save themselves from the Lizard. "You don't understand" says the woman as she dabs a tear from her eye, "My husband, Dr. Curtis Connors is the Lizard!"

And so Mrs. Connors tells her story, as Spidey stands there holding a framed picture of Curt that is inscribed "To my wife. Love, Curtis." (Note how Mrs. Connors, later Martha, never gets a first name through this entire story) Her husband Curtis was a surgeon "during the war" (World War II? Korea?) where he lost his right arm. After that time, he began studying reptiles and became "one of the world's leading authorities". He studies how certain reptiles can regenerate a lost limb and he decides to dedicate himself to developing a serum that will duplicate this ability in humans. "Oh Curtis, if only you could!" says a grinning Martha. Curt gets to work in the lab. His young son Billy comes in and asks him what he's working on and Curt tells him "something to make you proud of me". Months of work go by and Curt creates a serum that successfully regenerates a leg on a rabbit "within an hour". Rashly, he immediately decides that the next step is to test it on a human. And who better to test it on than himself? In Martha's presence, Curt downs the serum. Right away he feels a "strange sensation" in his right shoulder. Then, almost instantly, he grows a new arm. It is, he decides, "the greatest medical feat of all time!"

And it almost immediately goes wrong. The new hand suddenly goes green and scaly, then the rest of Curt goes green and scaly. An alarmed Martha can't quite tell what is going on and Curt tries to keep it that way. He tells her not to look at him. Then, "trembling, sobbing, like a man possessed" he leaves the lab and runs out into the night.

The next day Curt, now in the form of the Lizard returns to his lab and tries to create a serum that will make him human again. But it is too late. His mind is "too dulled, too changed" for him to succeed. In the end, he writes a note to his wife and son asking them to "leave, never come back" and he returns to the swamp.

Just as Martha finishes telling this story, Billy calls out for his mom. She thought he was taking a nap but his voice comes from somewhere outside. The web-spinner leaps out the window, hoping that his spider-sense will lead him to the boy. Not far away, the Lizard has just peeked out from behind a tree to encounter Billy which is why the boy is running and calling for help. As opposed to his other meetings with humans, the Lizard is positively gentle ("I... I did not mean to frighten you!" he calls) but Billy doesn't notice this and in his haste the boy runs right into the path of a dangerous snake. But then Spider-Man swings down and scoops the boy up in his arms. This enrages the Lizard. ("No one can take him from me!" he yells.) Spidey places Billy up on a branch of a tree for safekeeping and returns to the ground to take on the Lizard.

He starts by punching Liz in the puss with a right hand, only to discover the reptile's "skin is hard as a dinosaur's armor". Spidey realizes that he almost broke his hand with the punch and the Lizard barely felt it. He next tries to subdue the creature with his webbing but Liz snaps it with his tail "as if it were made of paper". At that moment, Martha comes out and calls for Billy. The sound of her voice does something to the Lizard. He turns and leaps back into the swamp.

Martha arrives on the scene with Billy walking behind. (I guess Billy must have climbed down from that tree all by himself.) In Billy's presence, she asks Spidey "My husband! Did you see him?" and Spidey replies that he did but that "he gets less human each minute". (I mention Billy's presence because, by the time of the Lizard's next appearance in ASM #44-45, January-February 1967, it is assumed that his parents don't know that Billy knows his dad is the Lizard. This moment and another a few pages further on show that, at least at the start, the whole Connors family was in on the secret.) Spidey puts Billy up on his shoulder and carries him back to his house. He asks Martha for access to Curt's research notes. She gladly agrees to this.

Back at the lab, Spidey examines the notes. ("It's a good thing I'm a science major in High School," he thinks. Do they have majors in High School?) Within hours he has whipped up a compound in a test tube. He has a pellet that he drops into the solution. If the liquid turns green, he will know that he has succeeded in creating an antidote. (Hey, don't look at me! I'm not a science major in High School!) And, yes, the solution turns green so Spidey knows he has created a liquid that will restore Curt to normal. The only question is, how is he going to get the Lizard to drink it?

While Spidey is wondering, Martha calls out for him to "look!" The Lizard stands in the doorway of the laboratory. He has decided that Spidey is "the only one who does not fear me" and therefore reasons that the destruction of Spider-Man will convince all of mankind to "tremble" before him. Spidey gives the test tube to Martha, instructing her not to spill it as he dodges an attack from the Lizard's tail. In quick succession, the Lizard lifts and throws a "huge oak desk" at the web-spinner, then batters at him with his tail. In "a few savage seconds" it is over. Spider-Man is buried under the rubble of the desk while the Lizard takes his leave. He declares that he will give his serum to all the crocodiles, alligators and other lizards in the swamp, thereby creating a "mighty lizard army". (I've never understood this. Curt's formula turns a human into a lizard. That doesn't mean it's going to make a lizard more human. Shouldn't it make a lizard more of a lizard? That won't create any sort of "army" that I can see.)

But the Lizard has mistakenly assumed that Spider-Man has been eliminated. With Martha lifting wooden beams off the pile, a still-alive Spidey manages to free himself. (Where did these beams come from? The whole room didn't collapse on him, Steve!) Once Spidey is out from under, Martha tells him about the "mighty lizard army" plan that the Lizard blurted out. Spidey knows that "mankind wouldn't stand a chance" so he must stop the Lizard before he makes the first "super-lizard". ("Otherwise they will multiply too fast to ever be checked!" he adds. Huh? Multiply how?) Martha hands the antidote back to Spidey. She and Billy accompany him to the swamp. There Spidey makes some water-skis out of webbing so he can travel the swamp itself. He either finds a pole or makes one out of webbing (the two panels showing the pole don't make this clear) so he can propel himself along. From the shore, Billy sobs and calls out, "D-don't hurt him, Spider-Man! He's still... my father!" (Which is the other panel that clearly demonstrates Billy knows his father is the Lizard and that his mother knows he knows since she is standing right next to him when he says this.)

Spidey uses his spider-sense to track the Lizard and his webbing to keep the swamp snakes at bay. Soon, he comes upon an "abandoned Spanish fort"... a large imposing structure made of big blocks of stone. He scales the wall and peeks over into the courtyard. What he sees makes him wonder if he isn't already too late.

The Lizard is standing amidst four alligators that "seem to be obedient to him". He tells the gators that they will be the first to become super-reptiles. The plan is to take his serum and spill it into the "murky waters" of the pond within the fort. Liz tells the gators to follow him inside the fort where he will prepare the serum and they tag along obediently. (Spidey eavesdrops on all this and is relieved to hear that he is still in time.) But, before the Lizard and friends can get inside, the mortar on the tower crumbles under Spider-Man's weight and the web-spinner makes an awkward entrance. The Lizard is surprised to see Spidey still alive but he recovers quickly and orders his alligators to "get him"!

The gators move in, with mouths open wide, trying to chomp on the web-spinner. Spidey responds by leaping out of their way and scaling the wall of the tower. But the Lizard is doing the same thing. "He forgets there are three thousand different kinds of lizards on Earth and I have the power of all of them." Liz thinks. Using the power of the gecko, he is able to cling to the wall and beat Spidey to the turret on top.

Suddenly, Spidey is caught between the Lizard above and the alligators below. And suddenly the tower is only about ten feet high since the attack of the Lizard's tail from above and the gators tails from below leave very little room in between for the wall-crawler. With the wall crumbling under the beating it is taking from these tails, Spidey knows that he can't stay in one place. He attaches a web at his feet, jumps away from the wall, and slingshots around to a window to the left of the tower. The Lizard crawls through an opening that connects the turret to the room into which Spidey has gone. Now the two face off once again.

Spidey tries his webbing again and again the Lizard snaps it. His goal being to make the Lizard forget about preparing his serum, Spidey taunts him by saying, "You may be stronger than me, Liz but I still say you're too slow to keep up with me" and somersaults through an open metal door that leads inside the tower. When the Lizard follows, Spidey leaps over him back to the door. His plan is to get out of the door and bolt the door, locking the Lizard within but he discovers that the alligators have joined the party and are waiting right on the other side of the door. So Spidey is forced to close the door trapping himself inside with the Lizard. (He bolts it with a big two-by-four fitting into some slots and announces that it's a "good thing this door bolts from both sides!" Yeah, sure is, Spidey!) Now he is trapped inside with the Lizard with no way to escape.

The walls of the room go all the way up to the top of the tower, so Spidey begins by scaling the wall to the ceiling. The Lizard climbs up after him. Then, just as Lizzie pounces, Spidey attaches a webline to the ceiling, dangles down, and grabs the Lizard by the tail. He pulls the Lizard from the wall and lets him fall. Then, in mid-air, using his spider-speed, the wall-crawler lets go of his webline and pulls the test tube filled with serum out of his belt. He then allows himself to fall, aiming himself at the Lizard.

Lizzie has landed on his feet, unhurt on the ground. Suddenly, the web-slinger lands on Liz's back. Spidey grabs the Lizard around the neck and forces the serum down the reptile's throat. But it doesn't seem to work. Instead, the Lizard flings him off his back and starts attacking with his tail. The wall-crawler tries to spin some web with which to escape but Lizzie's tail is "like a runaway sledgehammer". Spidey gets the stuffing knocked out of him. He dangles upside down, caught in his own web as the Lizard moves in for the kill. But then Spidey's antidote starts to kick in. The Lizard grabs his head in pain. The scales start to fade from his body. Then, right before Spidey's eyes (in a great one-panel transition by Ditko) the Lizard turns into one-armed Curt Connors again. Spidey frees himself from the webbing, takes Curt by the shoulder and promises to take him home. As they leave the fort, the alligators are already scattering. Without the Lizard's control of them, they have lost their focus. Spidey uses his webbing to "keep them at bay" and soon after he and Curt are back at the Connors' home. Martha gives her husband a big hug, welcoming him. (But they don't bother to wake up little Billy, asleep in the next room.)

Curt decides he has "tampered with forces of nature which must not be tampered with" and he burns his notes right on the spot! (In fact, it looks like he just builds a big bonfire on the floor.) Then he prepares to face the penalty for his crimes. But Spidey steps in and tells him he has broken no law (Can't jail anyone for terrorizing a few swamplanders, right?) and no one has been harmed. He suggests that the whole thing be kept a secret "among the three of us" (and Billy, too, Spidey). The Connors thank him profusely and that is the end of that.

But the next day, J. Jonah Jameson receives a report from the police in the lobby of the hotel. They have been looking for Peter Parker for over a day and have no sightings. But, even as he reports to Jonah, the officer sees a young man answering to Peter's description. Sure enough, here comes Peter with a handful of photographs. Before Jameson can read him the riot act, Pete holds the photos out and tells the publisher that he has pix of the Lizard. When Jameson asks him where he got the photos, Pete says he bought them from "an old Indian guide" that he met "at the edge of the Everglades". An angry Jonah tears the photos up into little pieces. "Can't you even tell a fake photo when you see one??!" he bellows. Then he shakes his fist at Peter, declares, "There is no Lizard" and demands to know why Peter didn't get any shots of Spider-Man. "You and your big talk" he says, shaking a finger at Pete, "You promised me sensational photos and all you bring me is a batch of worthless fakes!" With that, Jonah declares the trip over. He orders Peter to go upstairs and pack. (Which should be easy because Peter never unpacked! He never stayed at the hotel!) On the plane back home, Pete asks Jonah for the money he was promised. "I figure you owe me for your plane fare down here and half the hotel bill", JJJ replies.

Back at home, Peter kicks back in a big yellow armchair and prepares to relax. But Aunt May tells him not to get too comfortable. She has plenty of chores for him after his "nice rest in Florida". First, Pete wants to call Betty Brant and ask her for a date. He picks up the phone, and then remembers Betty is working late with Jonah Jameson. So, Pete decides to call Liz Allen instead. When Liz answers, she gives Pete hell for tieing up her phone. She is waiting for a call from Spider-Man. "After him rescuing me the other day and calling me "blue eyes", I'm sure he'll call" she says and she hangs up on Pete. "Only a guy with my nutty luck could end up being his own competition" Pete says.

At the Daily Bugle, Betty Brant tells Jonah Jameson that he has gotten a letter in the mail from Spider-Man. She reads it to him. "Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm still at large, so phooey to you!" Jonah gets so mad that little lines radiate out from his head. "Well, don't just stand there!" he yells, "Tear it up! Burn it! Ohh! I'll get that masked menace if it's the last thing I do!"

The letters page covers comments concerning ASM #3 (July 1963). Phil Castora of Burbank, California says, "If you can keep up the good work, in a few years you ought to be able to publish it oftener than monthly." (Just keep reading, Phil.) Dave Bibby of Verona, New Jersey says, "At first, I thought Doctor Octopus looked too crazy but he turned out to be a great foe. Maybe he should return in a future issue." (You keep reading too, Dave.) And, Mrs. Ruth Green of Central Point, Oregon identifies herself as the mother of some Spider-Man fans who has taken to the ol' web-slinger herself. "I'm not one to interfere in the hopes of others", she says, "but I noticed in your fan mail that they are already searching for a secret pal for Spider-Man or trying to push him into the Fantastic Four. He does a mighty fine job alone! Come on, you kids, why not let Spider-Man live his role alone like Richard Diamond??" (Everybody remember Richard Diamond? Of course you do!)

The Lizard and Connors family have returned for dozens of appearances but a few years pass after their introduction before any of them are seen again. Curt Connors returns first, as a professor at Empire State University in ASM #32, January 1966. The Lizard, Martha Connors and Billy Connors all return in ASM #44, January 1967.

In General...

Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)

  1. First appearance of Curt Connors, Martha Connors, Billy Connors, and the Lizard.
  2. First time Peter appears without his tie.
  3. First time Jonah is left hanging by Spidey and falls with a "whump!" when the webbing dissolves.
  4. First time Peter almost asks Betty out for a date.
  5. First time Peter tries the old "photos from an old Indian guide that he met at the edge of the Everglades" trick on Jonah Jameson.
  6. First "Roses are Red" poem Spidey sends to Jonah Jameson.

The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this story. Warts and all:

Ditko/Lee/Simek

  • "Face to Face with the Lizard" - First encounter and origin of the Lizard.

    Overall Rating...

    This is fun stuff. Stan and Steve provide us with one good scene after another as we jump from Liz Allan's sudden crush on Spider-Man to Spidey hanging J. Jonah Jameson from the ceiling to the wall-crawler meeting the Lizard in the swamp to the origin of the Lizard to the tense and powerful battle between Spidey and Lizzy in the old Spanish fort to Peter Parker covering up the truth of the Lizard by pretending to buy photos from an old Indian guide. The story of Curt Connors creating a serum out of lizards in order to grow a new arm is particularly ingenious especially for a comic book published in 1963. The good-evil dual nature of Curt and the Lizard also makes for terrific conflict as Spider-Man must protect the Connors family from the experiment gone wrong (an excellent metaphor of the conflict between a patriarch's family and his work) as well as protect the Lizard himself. So, if all of this good stuff is going on, why only four webs? Because the whole idea of High School science whiz Peter Parker stepping in to whip up a quick antidote takes a lot of the fun away from things. And, let's face it, as good as this story is, it's just a bit behind such stories as the first Doc Ock, the fist Green Goblin and others that deserve the full five webs.