Review: Amazing Spider-Man #691 – Return of the Reptile!

Amazing Spider-Man #691
Writer:  Dan Slott
Art:  Giuseppe Camuncoli & Mario Del Pennino [Pencils], Klaus Janson & Daniel Green [Inks], and Frank D’Armata [Colors]

Concluding Dan Slott’s Lizard epic, “No Turning Back,” Amazing Spider-Man #691 finds Spider-Man face-to-face with the Lizard-in-human-form Curt Connors back at Horizon Labs.

If you’ve missed an issue or two, Spider-Man seemingly turned the Lizard back into Curt Connors in Amazing Spider-Man #688 with the help of Morbius, but the Lizard personality was still in control.  After causing Morbius to lose control of his vampiric hunger as a means of distracting Spidey, Lizard-Connors got to work trying to return himself to his reptilian form while testing his formula on unsuspecting members of the Horizon team.  Ultimately, however, he discovered through a series of new sensory experiences that the human body was the superior form.

At the beginning of this issue, having taken care of Morbius in an uncharacteristically merciless fashion, Spider-Man returns to Horizon to find it overrun by lizard people–but all is not what it seems.  The Horizon Labs lizard people are all behaving rather friendly, and per Horizon team member and “amateur herpetologist” Sajani, Spider-Man is informed that humans and lizards are not natural enemies–with the exception of the Komodo dragon.  Thus, he is lead to believe that perhaps Curt Connors’ own resentment for the loss of his arm, his wife, and his son was the driving force behind the Lizard’s villainous ways all these years.

It’s an interesting and different take on the character, but before you can consider it for very long, Lizard-Connors’ hand is forced by Spider-Man’s return and he injects himself with a new, improved formula that transforms him into a much sleeker, almost gecko-like form as he promises that this time, there’s no returning to human form.  It’s actually pretty close to his original appearance, as opposed to the more iguana- or Komodo-like shape he’s taken on over the years.  Ultimately, to the Lizard’s surprise, bits of his humanity have begun to seep through, leaving him distracted as Spider-Man tries out yet another cure serum on him, and the results are somewhat surprising.

Overall, “No Turning Back” is another strong arc in Dan Slott’s superior run on Amazing Spider-Man, but it’s not without issue.  For a long-time Spider-Man fan, it’s a bit of a stretch to believe that Spidey would be so uncharacteristically merciless to a character like Morbius, who has been reformed for quite a while now and even saved the world in the Marvel Zombies 4 mini-series, assuming that’s canon.  I get that there’s been a lot on Peter Parker’s plate as of late and that all of this is leading into the upcoming “Danger Zone” arc and issue #700, which I’ve heard are supposed to be somewhat darker stories, but it just feels a little bit out of character in this instance.  Other than that, though, this arc was a fun roller coaster ride with fantastic art by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Co, and a recommended read for fans of the Lizard.  The joke about the annual Horizon softball game being people who were turned in lizards versus people who were turned into spiders last summer was an especially nice touch.

Oh, and speaking of “Danger Zone,” the lead-in tease at the end of this issue is sure to make Hobgoblin fans happy.

Rating: 9/10

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Roger Riddell
Essentially Peter Parker with all the charm of Wolverine, he's a DC-based B2B journalist who occasionally writes about music and pop culture in his free time. His love for comics, metal, and videogames has also landed him gigs writing for the A.V. Club, Comic Book Resources, and Louisville Magazine. Keep him away from the whiskey, and don't ask him how much he hates the Spider-Man movies unless you're ready to hear about his overarching plot for a six-film series that would put the Dark Knight trilogy to shame.

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