Spider-Man Unlimited seems to focus on stories that aren't important to current continuity, but may (or may not) be worth telling anyway. Written and drawn by guest writers and artists.
We open with Martha Connors, the Lizard's wife, examining the wreckage of her trashed home. A gaping hole in the wall leads outside, and among the rubble, Martha finds a pair of dog tags...Curt's dog tags.
Flashback to years earlier, as Martha visits her husband in a hospital bed shortly after he lost his arm. She tells him it's good to have him back, but Curt tells her she doesn't have all of him back. She tells him that everything important is still there, but he protests, saying he needs to hold her with both arms. He promises that he will find a way to be whole again, so that he can hold his wife. Martha lays her head in his chest, and he strokes it with his remaining arm.
Moving on, Martha finds a box on the ground and opens it. Inside is a broken ring, and Martha recalls Curt asking her what was in the box. She claims it to be nothing, but Curt persists. He opens the box and realizes what's inside. He goes on to relate how fascinated he is by the fact that his initial transformation was so violent that it shattered his wedding. Disappointed, Martha asks Curt if that's all the ring means to him. Curt lets her know it means more than that, but that he is "so close," and he promises to hold her again.
Back in her wrecked house, Martha sits in the dark on the sofa and her hand brushes up against a baseball glove. Flashback to one of their son Billy's birthday, where Billy is thrilled about his new glove. Curt urges him to go outside and practice while his father returns to his lab to work. As Billy goes outside, Martha tells Curt that catch is a two-person game. Curt asks how he is supposed to play catch with only one arm. An argument ensues, and again Curt stresses that to be a normal father, a normal person, he needs his arm back. Martha apologizes, and so does Curt. He says that he's doing this for them.
In the darkness of her ruined home, Martha comes across an ornate box with a hinged lid, and we flash back to two hours prior. Martha is gazing inside what appears to be her memory box, filled with Curt's wedding ring, dog tag, and baseball glove. She asks her husband if he's ever thought of having another baby, to which he replies that his mutation into the Lizard would affect the baby's genes. When Martha suggests adoption, Curt returns that he turns into the Lizard under stress. Martha says she's given up so much, and becomes emotional as she claims to just want a baby. Curt raises his voice and says that everything is always about Martha, then turns into the Lizard, smashes Martha's memory box, and blows a hole in the wall.
Martha is huddling on the floor in the dark when Spider-Man pokes his head through the hole. Carrying Martha's barely conscious husband, he lays him on the couch and tells her to keep him calm for the next few days. Martha thanks Spider-Man, and Curt apologizes. They embrace, and Martha tells him it's okay. Curt once again promises his wife that he will hold her again.
Now THAT'S the kind of story I want to see out of this book. In only eleven pages, it takes us from the scene of a wreckage that's origin is unknown to a better understanding of how tragic it must be to not only be the Lizard, but to be MARRIED to the Lizard.
Hagan's characterization is brilliant. In earlier issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Curt Connors has always been characterized as a brilliant scientist, a good friend to Spider-Man, and generally a great guy who just so happens to turn into a giant lizard when under stress. Hagan paints us a picture of a brilliant scientist who is crippled in a war, and focuses the rest of his life on regaining what he's lost. Connors comes off like an ass for most of the story, but his mental state seems completely natural for a man in his position, just as Martha's firm belief that he is NOT less of a man for the loss of his arm seems just as natural. The repetition of Curt's promise to hold his wife again is also a powerful way of showing that Curt, while oftentimes appearing to neglect his family for his work, is truly motivated by his love for them, making this a tragic, yet beautiful tale.
Five webs. In my opinion, this eleven-page tale adds more depth to the Lizard character than any full-length story from the past couple of years. It's the gems like these that keep me buying this oftentimes sub-par book.