Cover Date: November 1963
Cover Artist: Steve Ditko
Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Scripter: Stan Lee
Penciller: Steve Ditko
Inker: Steve Ditko
What’s Going On?
A bizarre lizard-man has been seen in the Everglades, terrorizing the locals.
Naturally, Spider-Man decides to investigate. Spidey quickly realizes that this Lizard is a legitimate physical challenge to his own spider-enhanced abilities. What terrible secret is the Lizard hiding?
Is It Good?
I’m kind of torn on this. On the one hand, yes, this is pretty good; Ditko’s artwork continues to shine, and the Lee/Ditko writing team is making a lot of choices that help separate this comic from the rest of the pack.
That said, this is the weakest Spider-Man story yet. The choice to set the story in the swamps of Florida forces the writing team to come up with a way to get Spider-Man from Queens to Florida, and they don’t do a great job of it. Peter’s motives are maybe the most selfish that we’ve seen to date, too. Thankfully, he is not rewarded for his actions, and he does act like a hero when given the opportunity, so he is not becoming unlovable.
- While at a museum researching dinosaurs (because, he reasoned, they were probably like lizards), Spidey foils a theft.
- In the process of breaking up the robbery, Spider-Man saves Liz Allan from becoming a hostage. As a result, she develops a crush on Spidey.
- A Daily Bugle headline called for Spider-Man to challenge the Lizard. Peter tries to convince J. Jonah Jameson to send him to Florida to take pictures of the Lizard and Spidey, but fails. JJJ only wrote the headline as a spectacle to sell newspapers; he doesn’t believe Spider-Man would rise to the challenge.
- JJJ changes his mind after Peter, as Spider-Man, states that he will be in Florida to find the Lizard. Jonah agrees to send Peter Parker to Florida to get pictures of the Lizard.
- The Lizard’s plan is to use Curt Connor’s formula to mutate all the reptiles in the Everglades, and then lead them in an uprising to conquer/kill humanity.
- Spidey ultimately defeats the Lizard by developing a antiserum from Connor’s notes. He manages to force it down the Lizard’s throat as the two fought while falling. The Lizard changes back into Curt Connors, and the day is saved.
- Peter gives Jonah some Lizard pictures, but says that he bought them from a local. JJJ tears them up, and declares the entire trip a waste of money. Peter doesn’t get paid.
- This is the first appearance of Dr. Curt Connors, the Lizard. This is also the first time his Lizard transformation has been reversed.
- In his Lizard form, Connors has armor-like skin and strength that appears to be greater than that of Spider-Man. This puts Lizard in the same strength ballpark as the Thing!
- The Lizard also has the ability to mentally control reptiles, and every special ability of any reptile. I know I’ve seen his mental control power used, but I’m pretty sure the “I have the powers of all [lizards]” bit gets dropped quickly.
- This is also the first appearance of Martha and Billy Connors, the Lizard’s wife and child, respectively.
- Spider-Man uses his webs to make…water shoes? Pontoon boots? I don’t know what they are, but they are surprisingly buoyant and rigid.
- Peter’s Spidey-sense is still working more like radar or a tracker than the danger instinct that it is normally portrayed as.
- Curt Connors burns his “Lizard formula” notes and will not be turned in to the authorities because he has “broken no law.” I’m pretty sure someone could think of a few broken laws —- maybe something about human experimentation? —- but whatever.
Comics Are Goofy:
- What kind of challenge, exactly, is the Bugle calling for? A fistfight? A battle for control of the Floridian swamps? 1-on-1 basketball?
I love that Peter is surprised that Jonah isn’t sending him (a freelance teenager) to Florida (a different state) without supervision.
- I like that Peter conveniently fails to tell Aunt May that he is going to Florida for the express purpose of finding the Lizard.
- Who gives their own family a signed picture of themselves?
- The Lizard’s plan is to give regular reptiles the formula Curt Connors took to become the Lizard. We have no evidence what (if any) affect the formula will have on standard reptiles —- and wouldn’t concentration levels matter? —- but I guess, sure, we can just assume that he will end up with a super-army of alligator-men.
- Doesn’t this —- unexpectedly losing his grip/footing —- seem like the sort of thing his Spidey-sense should warn him about?
- Is this a cricket reference?
- What makes Liz think Spider-Man has her phone number?