Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #691

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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: Sep 2012.

Background...

Curt Connors has fooled his rescuers at Horizon that he's been cured, all the while under the influence of his evil Lizard counterpart, mentally. He's also gone around and injected most everybody at Horizon with his Lizard serum, turning them into slobbering beasts.

In Detail...

"Human Error"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #691
Oct 2012 : SM Title
Summary: Lizard at Horizon Labs
Arc: Part 4 of "No Turning Back"
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
Writer:  Dan Slott
Pencils:  Giuseppe Camuncoli, Mario Del Pennino
Inker:  Daniel Green, Klaus Janson
Lettering:  VC's Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Frank D' Armata
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Issue
Review
Articles: Green Goblin IV (Phil Urich), Lizard

Spider-man comes in to find that Lizard-turned people of Horizon Labs are actually acting rather benign. Sanjani informs Spidey that humans and lizards aren't natural enemies (so why all the menacing hissing last issue?). Gunshots draw Spidey's attention to where Carlie is-- he swings there to find everything fine there as well, Lizard Grady and Bella making out. When Carlie points out that the Lizard has tried to kill Spider-man for years, he reasons maybe it was Connors himself acting on impulse all along. Finding Connors in a doorway, Spidey accuses him of such, and Connors himself decides at that moment to inject himself with the perfected lizard serum.

With Connors rapidly transforming, Spidey bundles him in webs and uses him as a battering ram of sorts to knock through the barricaded atrium wall. Out in the street, the Lizard, now fully transformed, declares this to be his final form. Back inside Horizon, Uatu finds some remaining doses of Morbius' Lizard cure and a hypoon, giving him an idea.

As Lizard and Spidey tangle, Uatu steps out and gives Spidey the hypoon with the cure. He thinks there's no guarantee it'll work, that it has to be injected into the Lizard's brain and it may kill him. Cue Madam Web appearing overhead, asking if Peter will go through with it (that is, will he "forever cut another skein from the great web of life?"). Spidey decides it's worth the risk. He impales the Lizard, straight through the brain. It doesn't work, but it doesn't kill him, and it's enough to put the Lizard down for a bit.

Lizard is transported to the Raft facillity for containment, along with Morbius and Doctor Octopus in their own cells. Spidey visits, finding Lizard in his cell eating rats. As Spider-man turns to leave, Lizard thinks to himself that the cure did work, that he now has Connors' consciousness in his brain now, permanently, though he retains the form of the Lizard. He thinks it's what he deserves.

Back at Horizon, everyone's cured. Max Modell notices something missing from his office during the commotion. Cut to Kingpin's headquarters at Shadowland. Tyler Stone is putting the finishing touches on the Spider-sense jammers, and gaining Kingpin's favor much to Philgoblin's displeasure. Madam Web is watching, and thinks the future has changed. At the center of her vision she finds a certain masked man, down in Central America.

He calls himself the Devil Spider, and he's taking out drug rivals in the streets with guns. An aide comes to tell him news of his brother in America. Devil Spider says it's not time yet, that if his brother reaches out it could tip their hand to Kingpin. His aide informs the man that his brother Daniel Kingsley never became the Hobgoblin, and has been killed. The man takes off his mask--it's Roderick Kingsley. He says he's going to have to pay a visit to America to meet this new Hobgoblin.

In General...

I can only think that Slott was just having fun with this story. Having the Lizard-people of Horizon Labs threatening the human survivors last issue, and now having them be almost benevolent pets at the beginning of the story sure robs this tale of some of the momemtum of last issue's cliffhangers.

It's not a story-breaker though, and where the Lizard is left at the end of this issue, permanently in the form of the Lizard but with Curt Connors' brain, is a form of poetic justice, the inverse of where Connors was most of the story. Though the idea that Connors has known all along what he was doing as the Lizard and blamed the creature for his actions is not altogether a new one--I believe Paul Jenkins penned a similar story during one of his runs (and here it is--Spectacular Spider-man Vol 2 #13).

Just when Madam Web's mystical hoodoo threatens to tip the scales into annoying this issue, we get the reveal via her that Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin, is alive. Who we thought Phil Urich beheaded in ASM #649 was actually Roddy's twin brother Daniel, while Roddy was indeed alive and well the whole time and running one of his own long games (and as a kind of Tarantula-looking villain in Central America--a nod to Kingsley's own past pilfering of dead super-villain identities?).

I'm no great fan of Phil as the new Hobgoblin,they never bothered to do much with him outside of that first arc, and he's shown to be as basically loathsome as he is ineffectual in the Hobgoblin role. Perhaps this is what Dan Slott was planning all along, or perhaps the fan reaction to the offing of Roderick is what's prompted his return, but one of the all-time Spider-man villains is coming back to reclaim his title. Phil should be worried.

Overall Rating...

The Lizard story kind of fizzles out. The art and coloring is still good (Camuncoli, Janson and D'Armata are welcome in these pages anytime), but this is a story that probably could've been told in two or three issues. I like that Dan is trying to push the villains in different directions, though.

Oh yeah, and Roderick Kingsley is back!

Footnote...

The Kingsley saga as Hobgoblin was long and varied, with plenty of fake reveals and brainwashed dupes. For those new to this classic character, ASM #238 is a great place to start. The mini-series Spider-man: Hobgoblin Lives is where the villain's true identity was finally revealed, and also where Kingsley took out another previous pretender to his throne, Jason Macendale.