Spidey Super Stories #7 (Story 1)

Background

So Spider-Man, once again you have to stand up for mammals (and faux-insects) everywhere, and prove it weren't no sissy comet that killed the dinosaurs, no way - us mammals just up and kicked some dino ass. The Lizard plans to take over the world and make it into some kinda reptilian utopia, where Komodo Dragons get to lounge around in hammocks sipping margaritas in the shade while man-servants fan them with giant ostrich feather fans to help them regulate their incredibly inefficient body temperature. Are you going take this lying down, Spidey? I thought not. The Lizard's goin' DOWN. HARD.

Story Details

So we open with Peter Parker's high school class taking a trip to the zoo. At the reptile house, they run into Dr. Curt Connors, who works for the zoo and shows them all sorts of nifty reptilian life, like snakes, turtles, salamanders, and dragon-lizards! What? Yes, the New York City Zoo is now displaying a lizard that looks exactly like an alligator except it has little green cardboard wings glued to its back, and are calling it a "Dragon-Lizard". Hell, I learned dragons weren't real in grade school, you'd think zoo directors would maybe know that. But obviously, that's giving them too much credit.

So I can just imagine the circumstances wherein the zoo bought this alligator-with-fake-wings 'Dragon-Lizard':

*open on a ramshackle house on the edge of the swamp*

Paw: Now son, that there gator o' yers done eaten my last good bit of shoe leather. He just cain't sleep on the couch no more. He's gotten bigger 'n you, it's time to turn em' loose.

Son: But PAW! Where'll Snappy go-teh? The other gators hate him real bad and'll eat his face clean off!

Paw: Well, I been thinkin 'bout that, son, and I got myself, one of those, you know, one of dem things, like with the new stuff in yer head.

Son: An Ide-er?

Paw: Right! An Ide-er. Now you go on and fetch me some cardboard from outta your sister's bed. We gonna trick us some fancy city folks into carin for Snappy, yessiree.

*2 days later, at the New York City Zoo. Paw has Snappy (with cardboard wings) on a leash in the Zoo directors office.*

Paw: So you sees, sir, I was just walking around in the swamps, when I founds me this Dragon-Lizard.

Huddled Group of Scientists and Zoo Officials: Astounding! Find of the Century! Revolutionary...! *whisper* Worldwide exclusive... *whisper* Lizard-theme theme parks... *whisper* People magazine's sexiest scientist alive...

Zoo Director: *AHEMs, stands up out of huddle* Fantastic! Well, we're prepared to offer you $100,000 for this amazing specimen of an unknown species.

Paw: Well, uh, dat's alright and all, buts I got me them other city folks, from uh, dat other big zoo, ringing me on da sell-phone all night long.

Zoo Director: Good Lord! You mean San Diego's interested in the Dragon-Lizard?

Paw: Yup. Them uh, De-Ay-Go people talkin to me so much I would be thinking they was my sister, if'n I hadn't married her.

Zoo Director: Oh no! $200,000! $300,000! Anything for the Dragon-Lizard of the swamps!

Paw and Son: *retire to Tahiti*

So Curt Connors is showing off this pride and joy of the reptile house when he notices that "The Dragon-Lizard looks very sick! I must get him rare plants that grow deep in the swamp!" First of all, unless being green and having big cardboard butterfly wings taped to his back makes him look sick, the old Dragon-Lizard looks just peachy to me. But I'm no Lizard-Doctor like Curt. Of course DOCTOR Curt Connors, who we are lead to believe at one point went to some kind of Reptile-medical school, suggests RARE SWAMP PLANTS as the only way to cure whatever ails Snappy.

As such, we now present the entirety of the

Spidey Super Stories Medical Textbook for Herpetologists:

p.1: Chapter 1 -- In case of any Reptile illness, all the knowledge of modern medicine is totally and completely useless. Only RARE SWAMP HERBS can cure Reptiles. Pretty much any random one of them will do. And yes, you have to go and collect them yourself. However, if the sick reptile is a turtle, instead you may turn it over and gently caress its belly while singing Rodgers and Hammerstein show tunes. No one knows why this works, but it always seems to cure turtles.

p.2: Book Index -- Hammerstein - see p.1, Modern Medicine - see p.1, Jackalopes - see another book, RARE SWAMP HERBS - see p.1, RARE SWAMP PLANTS - see RARE SWAMP HERBS

Now Spidey Super Stories does an amazing thing. Peter starts flashing back, which is pretty rare in itself, since the writers don't generally believe the readers are smart enough to handle such concepts as 'a time other than this very moment right now'. The amazing thing about the flashback though, is that it tells us exactly the same story as the one we're in the middle of reading.

Months Ago, in Flashback (2 pages): Dr. Curt Connors drinks potion and becomes the Lizard, gathers lizard army in the swamp, Spider-Man randomly finds secret lab with anti-change-me-into-giant-lizard potion, tricks Lizard into drinking it and becoming Curt Connors again.

Now(and the rest of the story) (11 pages): Doc Connors exposed to swamp air becomes the Lizard, gathers lizard army in the swamp, Spider-man now already knows where his secret lab with the 'change-me-back' antidote is, tricks Lizard into drinking it and becoming Curt Connors again.

So why are we wasting our time with the other ten pages of this story? You tell me. They just proved to us that everything important that happens in this story takes less than two pages to tell.

So once Spidey has recovered from all his flashbacking (Curt shouts at him, "Stop daydreaming, young man!" Heh.), Peter decides to volunteer to accompany Curt into the field. "Dr. Connors can't go into the swamp alone! He could turn into the Lizard again!" Boy, mighty conveinient for the story that Curt must go collect RARE SWAMP PLANTS and just everyone else in the Reptile House is busy, even though he's the only one that turns into a homicidal super-villain when he breathes in the swamp air and dammit, he knows that, too.

So Dr. Curt Connors/super-villain the Lizard takes mild-mannered high school student Peter Parker with him on an expedition to the swamp. Boy, I wonder how Curt filled out the permission slip for that trip.

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Dear   May Parker

Your son/daughter/legal ward     Peter     will be attending a field trip to some random swamp somewhere in America for the days of   an unknown number   . He will be accompanied at all times by a dangerous super villain Dr. Curt Connors and         absolutely no one else        . If he has permission to go, please sign below.

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Note: The school is in no way responsible for your son/daughter/legal ward in any way at all, but specifically we are not responsible for him/her being bitten by alligators, contracting malaria, or being held hostage by any super-villain. Even if it's one of our teachers.
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So, apparently Aunt May thinks the field trip is just peachy, and Peter and Curt go to some swamp where the RARE SWAMP PLANTS grow. And immediately, Dr. Connors ditches high school student Peter and wanders off so he can 'accidentally' become a dangerous super-villain again. Sure, he claims he doesn't like being the Lizard, but he sure doesn't do much to stop himself, either. I'll bet secretly he likes it.

So Peter, wandering lost, calls Dr. Connors on his walkie-talkie.

Curt: Don't worry, Peter -- everything is... *turns green and his lips swell up to five times their normal size* ...just... *loses hair, gains scales and a serious overbite* ...FINE! *now completely the Lizard*

So the Lizard decides that the very first thing he has to do is gain vengeance on Spider-man. Even though he could raise a massive Lizard army right now here in the swamp and start on his path to destroying mammalian civilization. No, he's going to wander around the entire state of Georgia (or wherever this swamp is) until he randomly makes it to New York City and finds Spider-Man. Makes me feel a whole lot safer to know Lizards are even stupider than drywall. Kinda takes the fear out of that whole 'genocide against the warm-bloods' thing he's got going.

But as dumb, (really dumb) luck would have it, Spider-Man (as Peter) is indeed wandering around this very swamp. How con-veeeeeeeeeinient. Peter tries again to raise Curt on the walkie-talkies, can't, and feels some danger somewhere. So he busts out the Spidey outfit and goes swinging around the swamp. Suddenly, the Lizard jumps out of the trees!

I'd like to point out that for whatever reason, penciller Winslow Mortimer decided to give the Lizard feet about a meter long. Seriously. As he bursts out of the trees, we see that his foot (the Lizard's, not Winslow Mortimer's) is actually longer than Spider-Man's arm. They don't even make clown shoes in this size. Hell, I'm willing to bet they don't even make inflatable pontoons in this size...

Alright now, super-fast-battle-scene: Spidey leaps away and shoots webs Lizard cuts them with his tail Spidey falls into a bog Lizard playfully splashes Spidey with his tail Spidey punches Liz but his "head is as hard as a rock" and Lizard whips Spidey into another tree and then Spidey falls in another bog this one all of six inches deep Lizard thinks he's won and just wanders off. *whew* Glad that's over with. Believe me, it was much less painful for you to read that than it was for me to look at it, with its cardboard cutout B-movie action scenes.

So Lizard, not bothering to check if Spidey was dead or even the least bit incapacitated, decides maybe it's time to get on with the gaining revenge on mammals thing. He just spent all this time to beat Spidey, then just totally gets distracted and loses interest in it. Geez, short attention span these lizards seem to have. Note to self: If ever confronted with a maniacal Reptilian super-villain bent on conquering everybody, show him some pretty tinfoil, I'm sure he'll forget all about being world dictator. It's also a clear violation of Stupid Villain Rule #4: Always, always make sure the hero is dead before you leave the scene. You've already fought him once, Lizard, this one *should* be a no-brainer. Of course Lizard brains are like one-tenth the size of those people who go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, so I'm not expecting much.

So Spidey climbs out of the six-inch-deep bog just in time to see the Lizard swimming away and throws a Spider-Tracer on his tail. And no, they couldn't let something as simple as 'throwing' make any sense. You see, Spidey lobs his fingernail-sized tracer at the Lizard fifty-feet across a bog, and it just happens to stick to the very tip of the Lizard's tail as he's whipping it back in forth while swimming. Now that was a shot. Have any of you ever tried throwing playing cards in a garbage can from across the room? Maybe that's just me. It's really, really difficult, trust me. Even harder when it's an air-conditioned classroom and you're playing Strip-Throw-Cards-in-the-Wastebasket. Though that one probably is just me. Spidey here does the equivalent of throwing a playing card into a toaster locked in a different room while being tickled by Gwen Stacy clones. That's how impossible this Spider-Tracer on the tail thing is.

(And for the three people out there who don't know or can't figure out what a Spider-Tracer is....... hahahahaha *snort* hahahahaha.)

So then Spidey follows the Lizard to the SECRET SWAMP LAB that Curt apparently still keeps in this particular random swamp. Apparently he also still keeps handy supplies of his change-me-to-a big-lizard-potion (bad), and his anti-change-me-to-a-big-lizard potion (good). I think the neatest thing about this "Bad" Lizard Potion is that not only does it change mild-mannered scientists into homicidal giant lizards with delusions of grandeur, it also makes regular lizards grow to enormous sizes and become a fearsome army! So many uses in one little potion! It reminds me those 1890 carpetbagger schuckster guys who sold stuff out of the back of their buggy like "Otis Dean's Thaumaturgical Draught - for IMMEDIATE RELIEF of BILIOUS HEADACHE, DISORDERED LIVER, WIND of the STOMACH, may also be used as TYPHUS VACCINATION, WAX for a man's MOUSTACHE or a REFRESHING TURKISH BATH. Makes a splendid LINOLEUM SOLVENT as well! Only 25 cents!"

The Lizard comes out of the lab with a bottle of the "Bad" potion, and goes over to some alligators that are chillin' in the bog. He's about to pour it all over them (turning them into really enormous subservient alligators) when Spidey sneaks past him into the lab and then begins making a lot of noise. And the Lizard breaks Stupid Villain Rule #37: When you are right in the middle of an evil deed, especially an ultimate evil deed that may lead to total world domination, do not stop in the middle to investigate some noises somewhere. (Closely related is Stupid Villain Rule #44: When you have a hero's sidekick tied up in a chair, and are about to shoot him in the head, do NOT stop squeezing the trigger when the hero crashes through the window at the last minute. Rather, shoot the sidekick, and then quickly shoot the mortified hero. I can't even tell you how much embarrassment this will save you in the long run.)

So the Lizard fatally pauses in the pouring of the potion. Meanwhile, just ten feet away inside the lab, Spider-Man is looking for the "Good" potion. That's really the only plan Spidey has. Spidey would pretty much be screwed if Curt hadn't been thoughtful enough to make up well-labeled batches of the "change-me-into-Lizard" and "anti-change-me-into-Lizard" potions the last time he was here. Spidey: "Well, since the villain unfortunately totally failed to provide me with a simple means to defeat him, I have failed to save humanity. Oh, guess we'll just have to start bowing down to our new lizard overlords. All hail the Lizard, Lizard-King of New Lizardtopia!" Good thing for Peter that Dr. Connors was so conscientious here. Now if only Doc Connors would be more thoughtful when taking teenagers with him on long trips to the only place on Earth that turns him into a homicidal giant Lizard.

So Spidey finds the "Good" potion, and swings out of the lab just before the Lizard grabs him. Spidey climbs up a tree and sits on a branch, and the Lizard hits the branch with his tail and knocks out half the potion. Uh-Oh! Only a pint of potion separates all of humanity from slowly being digested in the belly of mutant lizards!

Spidey then utilizes some of his lesser-known powers. I'm just not really sure what those powers are. He shoots out a blob of webbing and suddenly this blob becomes a perfectly shaped leak-proof "web pitcher". I doubt a pottery instructor could make a pitcher this perfectly shaped in a week, much less four and a half seconds. Can Spidey telepathically shape his webbing? Is he the Green Lantern? Does he have a degree in emergency-speed knitting/sculpting? Does he summon invisible 26th dimensional imps who go back in time and create a pitcher out of his webbing and then teleport it to him? Let me tell you, as incredible as his Spider-Tracer on the tip of the tail thing was, this is just too much for my already stretched-like-a-fat-man's-hammock sense of disbelief in this story.

So (somehow) Spidey makes this pitcher, and then he pours the remaining "Good" potion in it. The Lizard tries to climb the tree Spidey's in, and then Spidey pours the potion right into the Lizard's mouth from six feet up. (Another amazing shot.) I don't really see why he couldn't have poured it out of the bottle directly into the Lizard's mouth, but maybe Aunt May taught him that you should Never, Ever let someone drink straight from the bottle, even if it would save the world. Speaking of which, I'm awfully glad the Lizard happened to have his mouth wide open when Spidey dumped it on him, 'cause I'd hate to be a Manwhich for some enormous gecko.

Lizard: No - no - you tricked me again... *becomes Curt Connors again*

Well, no, actually you tricked yourself, moron. This one isn't even a Stupid Villain Rule. Didn't your nest-mother ever teach you to close your mouth when not talking or devouring flesh? Serves you right.

So Peter and Curt finish the trip like nothing happened (though at any moment the swamp air may change him back to a mildly-fiendish reptile) and get the damn RARE SWAMP HERBS. For some reason, these HERBS look like a couple cheap blonde wigs someone chewed on for a while. Curt and Peter go back and feed the Snappy the Dragon-Lizard a couple of them HERBS (probably rotate its cardboard wings and give it the 60,000 mile checkup, too.) I guess it gets better or something. Frankly I could care less.

And then Dr. Connors says, "Uh, I must be working too hard. I can't remember our trip to the swamp." Right. We believe that. That's just an excuse to go back into the swamp and frolic as the Lizard some more and swear ever-lasting vengeance against your fellow man, etc.

General Comments

So now we get to the question you've all been waiting for without even knowing there was this gaping void in your life... Where the heck is Curt Connors right arm? Let me explain.

-In the original Marvel Comics, Dr. Curt Connors was missing an arm and drank his formula derived from lizards specifically to regrow his arm like some reptiles can. And this turned him into the big Lizard we all know so well, and he has two arms when the Lizard and one arm when Dr. Curt.

-But here, rather than maybe show the kids that a handicapped scientist can invent radical new formulas and become an important Zoo person, they just refuse to show us the right half of Curt Connor's body anywhere in the story. He's always in left silhouette, or its a high angle shot that only shows his face, stands with his right side behind kids, or the best, holds up a diorama with his left hand deliberately covering the right half of his body. Is there a right-half to Curt Connors? Does it even exist? So kids, remember: if you have some kind of deformity or problem with your appearance, be sure to hide it shamefully from the world so everyone else doesn't have to look on your hideousness.

Damn, how many one-word animal-based villains can you fight in 7 issues, Spidey? We've already seen the Vulture, the Beetle, the Rhino, and now the Lizard. And let us not forget other not-yet-appearing luminary lame Spider-Man villains such as the Gibbon, the Kangaroo, the Eel, the Grizzly, the Fly, the Jackal, the Chameleon, the Squid, the Slug, the Fox, the Ox, the Scorpion, and the Puma, all also one-word animal names. That's pretty lazy of the writers, namewise. Since by now all the good evilish-sounding animals have already been used used up in other comics, I'll give you a list right now of the new Spider-Man villains in the next twenty years: the Antelope, the Heifer, the Lemming, the Remora, the Dust Mite, and the Camel. There you go. I wonder if this will count as their official first appearances, years from now. And don't even get me started on Spider-Man villains named like animals but with color words in front of them. *sigh* Like Green Goblin, White Rabbit, White Dragon, White Tiger, Black Fox, Black Tarantula, Black Crow, Silver Sable, etc. Anyway, I just think the Spider-Villain naming committee needs to hire someone a little more creative than Mrs. Ellenhopfner's 2nd grade special ed. class to dream up these names. Though those guys do work for free, and have two different picture books with animals in them.

Lizard. Just look at that word. I've been writing it down so much I've gotten to that abstract point where it doesn't even look like a real word anymore. I had to keep checking spell-checker to assure myself, yes that's really how they spell it. LI-ZARD. C'Mon now, I can't be alone here, is that a weird-looking word or what?

Overall Rating

That scaly bastard.