Michael Morbius, the Living Vampire and mystery scientist hidden in Horizon's Lab Six, dug up the remains of Curt Connor's deceased son Billy, in what Morbius claims was an attempt to come up with a cure for Connor's monstrous alter-ego, The Lizard. Morbius, accompanied by Spidey and a team from Horizon Labs, found Lizard in the sewers, administered the cure, and have now brought Connors in human form back to Horizon for examination. Has Morbius' cure worked?
|Assistant Editor:||Ellie Pyle|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
|Colorist:||Frank D' Armata|
At Horizon, Spidey asks Connors how he's feeling. Connors replies "Human, I'm feeling very human". The captions of Connors' inner dialogue in the voice of the Lizard proves otherwise. The Lizard thinks he must blend into the environment and gain the trust of "these stupid homo sapiens". Max Modell says according to their scans, all traces of the Liazrd cells have been purged from Connors' system. Morbius takes this as evidence that his cure works.
Connors begins to formulate a plan. He says he's hungry. Morbius says there's no solid food in the lab, but glances over to a nearby cabinet. Connors figures out this must be where Morbius keeps his supply of blood to feast on. Morbius says he wants to use the same procedure that cured Connors on himself. Spider-man says Morbius can't be trusted, pointing out that he dug up the remains of Billy Connors. At the mention of Billy, Connors knows he has to react with grief, to gain the humans' sympathy, so he does. He asks to see the remains of his son, kept in a cooling chamber. Morbius admits digging up Billy was all an attempt to cure himself, and asks if Connors will ever forgive him. Crying, Connors says he needs to be alone. Modell, Spidey and Morbius all exit the lab leaving Connors to himself. Connors thinks he needs a distraction, and gets into Morbius' blood cabinet.
Out in the hallway, Modell's lawyer Hector is there, saying Morbius' recent grave robbings have been "raising some issues". Tyler, Uatu and Sanjani all weigh in, and Sanjani says she's called the cops, specifically "Parker's girlfriend" Carlie Cooper. Morbius catches a wiff of blood coming from an air vent.
Carlie arrives, asking why isn't Morbius "webbed up?--he's just hanging with everybody by the water cooler" Sanjani accosts Morbius, saying "that's the law, and you're out of here!". Carlie asks Spidey whether she's taking Morbius in or not, when Morbius attacks Sanjani and bites her neck. Spidey begins wailing on Morbius, who escapes by flying out the window.
At that point, Connors comes out of Morbius' lab, saying he knows how to cure him. Cooper says she's going to have to take Connors in too, that he's a wanted felon. Connors says he's the only one who knows how the cure works, and Modell says he'll help.
Meanwhile, Spider-man has tracked down Morbius in the city, and attacks him with some weapons borrowed from Uatu.
A brief interlude: the new Madame Web is dropping off her daughter at summer school in Queens, when Web has one of her psychic premonitions that drops her to her knees. Apparently, "the great web itself is..unraveling". Her visions include Hobgoblin, Kingpin, and Norah Winters. She thinks she has to "find Parker and warn him--the dark days are coming".
Meanwhile, back in the Horizon Lab, Connors and Modell are working on the Morbius cure on rats. Connors injects himself with some of his Lizard formula while Modell's not looking. It makes Connors regrow his missing arm. Connors says he needs a control group to figure out why Morbius' cure is preventing his full transformation back to the Lizard. Punching Modell and strapping him to a table, Connors injects Modell with the serum, transforming him into a Lizard creature.
For some reason I thought this storyline was a two-parter, but it turns out it's a four-parter. I wasn't sure if there was enough of a story here for a four-parter, but it turns out that there are several threads here to explore in this tale, from Connors' deception and wanting to revert back to his Lizard form, to Morbius wanting to cure his, Morbius biting Sanjani and now Modell himself being transformed into a lizard creature (will we get a vampire Sanjani versus a lizard Max Modell showdown?)
Turning Connors human while keeping the Lizard brain intact is a very clever tactic on writer Dan Slott's behalf. Connors' allies are lulled into a false sense of security since Connors is back in his human form, but he's just as deadly. All the characters have a strong written voice in this issue, reacting believably.
Things look a little more rushed this issue on the art side of things, but as Camuncoli usually does two-issue stints, some corners probably had to be cut to get the four issue arc in on deadline. As is, the art is still pretty good. The characters look diverse, Connors looks appropriately desperate and out of his mind, and the battle scenes with a pissed-off Spider-man vs. Morbius come out great.
The only scene that falls flat for me was the Madame Web interlude. It's meant to set up the forthcoming Hobgoblin arc, and I don't mind a little foreshadowing, but the character comes off a bit mystical, silly and out of place in a title like this after awhile.
One of the more interesting Lizard stories I've read. Slott gets into the creature's motivations in a creepy way. I just hope this story doesn't get too over the top, what with the cast of Horizon being attacked and transformed by the villains. As of this issue, this arc is on track and in good shape. 3.5 webs out of 5.
I got a reader email in regards to my review of last issue, and my assessment of Connors' state of mind:
"I think you completely misinterpeted what happened at the end of issue #688. You said that the Lizard internally talks to Conners but I don't think that's what's happening. In the issue the Lizard thinks, "Conners is dead!". Which means the Conners persona is gone and only the Lizards remains. Even though his body is human his brain is all lizard."
Right you are, Dave. Where they left Connors last issue wasn't immediately clear to me. Thanks for writing in.