Curt Connors, A.K.A. the ever-lovin' Lizard, is a man (reptile?) on a mission: to find his son, Billy, who's been kidnapped by Taskmaster and the Black Ant and turned over to Kraven!
Before long, Lizard finds Taskmaster, who is wallowing in despair over having betrayed his friend Black Ant to Kraven. The pair strike a bargain (which hinges on some very dubious morality on Lizard's part), and together hatch a scheme that at once alleviates Taskmaster's guilt and at the same time helps Lizard get closer to rescuing his son!
But the unlikely duo find more trouble than they bargain for when they stumble upon erstwhile Spider-Man foe VERMIN!
The interlude .HU issues of “Hunted” continue to prove to be stronger than the core story they’re connected to. The Lizard has always been an A-list Spidey foe with pathos to spare, but in the years since the brutal “Shed” (in which he unintentionally killed and ate his wife and son), Curt Conners has found new ways to be the saddest – yet savage – member of the unofficial League of Spider-Man Villains. Actually, “victim” better defines him than “villain,” because he’s ultimately a tragic figure forever trapped by his own Icarus-like attempts at just wanting to have two arms again.
And even as a mutated reptile-man in full possession of his mental faculties, he’s still a character full of self-loathing, courage, and desperation – and that potent mix makes him a character we can root for, even though he’s done terrible things in the past.
This issue also features the most consistent art from Chris Bachalo I’ve seen in quite awhile, even if it took six (six!) inkers to bring it home. As per usual for Bachalo, his style isn’t going to be for everybody, as heavily stylized as it is. I personally love it, particularly the unique way in which he draws the Lizard – more akin to a squatty monitor lizard with disproportionately thin limbs than how he’s traditionally conveyed (though as you can see from the above image, Bachalo does a mean Ditko too). And as for that Greg Land cover? I wouldn’t have guessed it, but he draws a FANTASTIC Lizard in the more conventional style. Hats off.
Nick Spencer’s story, too, does a neat job of filling in the gaps from last issue, which introduced the Lizard captured by Taskmaster with no explanation. What seemed like choppy storytelling at the time is revealed to be a masterstroke of planning, and a sly reveal on the author’s part.
As “Hunted” nears its conclusion and the players are all arranged to their respective places, the sense that not everybody’s getting out alive (minor players aside) continues to pervade, and although Spencer seems to telegraph a forthcoming major plot point in that regard on the last page, this was a very well-executed, character-driven story that is a must-read. Perhaps not as poignant as issue 18.HU (the Gibbon’s magnificent send-off), but strong nonetheless.
The Lizard proves why he's one of Spider-Man's most revered foes in this character-driven one-off, and honestly, proves too that he's a character worthy of considering for a prime-time shot at leading his own book. Don't miss this one!
Amazing Spider-Man #19.HU: Leapin’ Lizards!
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8.5/108.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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