Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #690

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This story is part of an Arc: "No Turning Back"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This review was first published on: Jul 2012.

Background...

With the help of Micheal Morbius and a team from Horizon Labs, Spider-man was able to fetch Curt Connors from the sewers , who was trapped in his Lizard form, and "cure" him with a compound Morbius developed. It cured Connors in appearance only, as he retained the evil reptile brain of the Lizard. Essentially held captive at Horizon Labs, Connors is scheming a way to escape, as well as a way to change himself back.

In Detail...

"Natural State"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #690
Sep 2012 : SM Title
Summary: Lizard, Morbius
Arc: Part 3 of "No Turning Back"
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
Writer:  Dan Slott
Pencils:  Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker:  Klaus Janson
Lettering:  VC's Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Frank D' Armata
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Articles: Green Goblin IV (Phil Urich), Lizard

Connors is still in lab 6, bemoaning the fact that he hasn't changed from his human form. He muses that he is a perfect human specimen, perhaps too perfect--and slices off one of his arms so as not to arouse suspicion. Max Modell, transformed in lizard form last issue, growls at Connors, so Connors tosses him the severed arm to gnaw on. Exiting the lab, Connors runs into Carlie Cooper, who tells him not to think of going anywhere, that he's still under her custody. Bella offers up the use of her own lab for Connors to work.

'Twelve blocks away' from Horizon Labs, Morbius and Spidey are still battling it out on a rooftop. Julia Carpenter, aka Madam Web, appears to Spidey in mid-battle, telling him he's in grave danger. She says something is set to happen at Horizon Labs, that will make his path nothing but ruin and despair.

At Kingpin's headquarters, Kingpin is doing his usual training by taking on a group of ninjas. Phil Urich stands by in his Hobgoblin outfit. Kingpin puts a call in to Tyler Stone, his mole at Horizon Labs, telling him that Stone's project was to be finished months ago, and if Stone doesn't deliver soon, Kingpin will be forced to terminate their agreement. On the other end of the call, Stone hears Hobgoblin say he'll kill him for free.

Tyler thinks to himself that he sold Kingpin on the spider-sense jammers that keep Spider-man away from his building, but that the plans Stone stole were incomplete. Stone breaks into Max Modell's lab, thinking one of Modell's "lucky 7" scientists must have the full schematics in their lab. He sets up a complete reboot of the building's security system to unlock all the doors and access the other labs, but then finds the documents in Modell's desk drawer. Lost in thought, he leaves the security reboot running as he exits.

Connors and Bella, meanwhile, are working in her lab to the song "Call Me Maybe" in the background. Connors finds himself a bit transfixed by the pop song. Nevertheless, while Bella's back is turned, Connors injects her with the lizard serum.

Back on the rooftop, Madam Web is still trying to convince Spider-man to head back to Horizon. Spidey says he can't let Morbius be free to feast on more innocents. Web says Spider-man is feelilng guilty about not being able to save Silver Sable (ASM #687), but also that Sable isn't really dead, saying her story is far from over. While Spidey is bantering with Julia, Morbius makes a dive off the rooftop towards some people on the street.

Connors is in Grady's lab next. Grady shows Connors a 3D model of his compound to help spur ideas. Grady then offers him some "brain food--cajun spicy ranch Doritos" snack chips. Connors begins to scarf them down, finding them "most pleasurable". Grady asks how Connors is able to eat like that and stay in shape--Connors says he'll be happy to show him, and in fact make a "new man" out of Grady.

Spider-man pummels Morbius out in the street as the civilians and police look on, then webs him to a lampost. Spidey then orders the police to send for a "superhuman containment vehicle" and three pints of blood to keep Morbius fed. The police officer starts to protest, but Spider-man flashes his Avengers license and says "make the call". One of the officers points out that Spider-man's costume is in tatters, and offers up his police officer's jacket, saying it's the least he can do after everything Spider-man has done for the city.

Uatu Jackson seeks out Connors next, asking why Connors is avoiding him. Connors sees his dead son Billy when he looks at Uatu. Uatu tells him he looks out of it, saying he knows exactly what Connors needs to take his mind off the problem. Back in Uatu's lab, they play video games together. Connors finds the gaming incredible, and it does help him think through his problem, and how to fix his formula, all supposedly under the pretext of "curing" Morbius.

Leaving Uatu's lab, Connors runs into Carlie out in the hallway. Carlie says Connors is under her supervision, and he keeps disappearing. Then she realizes--something's not right--isn't Connors supposed to be missing his right arm? Connors knows he's been had and runs, thinking all his work will be for nothing. Cut to a panel of the computer in Modell's office--the program is complete and the building's security system is rebooted. Grady, Bella, Max and a handful of other Horizon employees are all released from the labs Connors had shut them up in. In 'the Atrium', a sort of coffee bar in the Horizon building, Hector is talking with a bandaged Sanjani. She says she was bitten by a vampire and will probably grow fangs or bat ears. Hector says a blood transfusion should clear that up. The lizards break into the room, Hector says not to panic, that they've established new security protocols in the building. He pushes a button on the wall that locks the building down, saying they promised the mayor they'd never put the city at risk again.

Spider-man barely makes it inside in time, as the security protocol seals the building up from outside. He lands right in the Atrium, saying he needs to have a few words with Connors.

Connors, meanwhile, is still running from Carlie, who says it's his final warning. They run into Grady, Bella and Modell, and Connors orders them to "devour the little meat sack". Carlie has her gun drawn, telling them to stay back. Connors ducks into a lab as shots ring out off panel. He has the final ingredient--mutant growth hormone, which will revert Connors back to his lizard form. As he's about to inject himself, he wonders if that's what he really wants.

In General...

The best thing about this issue is how Dan Slott is able to pull together all the different elements of Spider-man's current cast of characters--mainly, the Horizon gang, the villains Lizard and Morbius, Kingpin, Hobgoblin and Julia Carpenter, and make a story that's not only coherent but engaging.

I do find it a bit corny that Curt Connors' evil lizard brain would be swayed by Bella's bad pop music, Grady's junk food and video games with Uatu, but I can only take this as some sort of commentary on the part of Slott that these are things that appeal to the basest level of our human nature.

As usual, Camuncoli and Janson turn in some very nice art, greatly enhanced by Frank D'Armata's varied, vibrant colors. It's a bit of a dark story, but the creative team plays it mostly for laughs. A scene showing Connors cutting off (what he thinks is) his regenerated arm so as not to raise suspicion has him doing it with a laser scalpel of sorts that seems to instantly cauterize the wound. The gruesome icing on the cake was when he threw his severed arm to lizard Modell to chew on, but the whole scene came off humourous instead of disturbing.

Finally, I'm interested to see where the whole bit with Kingpin, Philgoblin, Tyler Stone and Julia Carpenter is going. Why does Carpenter as Madam Web only show up at certain times, though (and where was she and her premonitions during Ends of the Earth?). It would be nice to see Spider-man and the Phil Urich Hobgoblin fight it out again. So far, Phil's had his butt handed to him by Spider-girl, Hercules, Randy Robertson and Venom, however, so it's probably not going to go too well for him.

Overall Rating...

I can't really find much to complain about here. After the lackluster "Ends of the Earth" story line, Slott's greatly redeemed himself with this arc. He's put characters and events in place with this story arc in a way not seen on this title since Spider Island. Let's hope with the last part of this story, he can stick the landing. 3.5 webs out of 5.