Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #45

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This story is part of an Arc: "Where Crawls the Lizard"
     Part 1 / Part 2

This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Now where were we? Curt Connors again turned into the Lizard. He knocked Spider-Man off a building and the web-slinger sprained his left arm. A bystander doctor taped Spidey up after which the wall-crawler slunk home. Fortunately Aunt May is on a rest cure at the seashore and Mary Jane could care less that Peter can't go out on a date with her. Still, Pete falls into his usual funk worrying about MJ, his camera left behind at the fight scene, money he needs for Aunt May, and the Lizard. He finishes with his regular mope about giving up being Spider-Man forever. That was Amazing Spider-Man #44, January 1967. What's next?

In Detail...

"Spidey Smashes Out"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #45
Feb 1967 : SMURF 045.500 : SM Title
Summary: Second Lizard
Arc: Part 2 of "Where Crawls the Lizard"
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  John Romita, Sr.
Inker:  John Romita, Sr.
Cover Art:  John Romita, Sr.
Staff Only
Issue
Review
 Partially Reprinted In: John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition (IDW)
 Reprinted In: Marvel Masterworks #22
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #185
 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales #33
 Reprinted In: Essential Spider-Man #3
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Pocket Book #25
Articles: Watson, Anna, Aunt May Parker, Betty Brant, The Big Man, Flash Thompson, Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Jameson, J. Jonah, Lizard, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Leeds, Ned

This one starts with a nice minimalist cover. The Lizard is entering the frame from the left. Since he hasn't completely gotten himself on the cover yet, we can feel his movement from left to right. This directs our eyes rightward where we find a crouched Spidey in his sling looking smaller than Lizzy and more vulnerable. The Lizard's left arm seems to be raking down while his tail curves up creating a pincer effect with Spidey caught in between. The background is a web effect colored yellow but both the webbing and color fade away in the center where Spidey perches. It all seems to be zeroing in on the web-slinger like a target's bull's-eye but lest you're worried about him, the title below his feet is reassuring: "Spidey Smashes Out!"

On the splash page, Spidey is in the city, walking on a web bridge, searching for the Lizard. He still has his sling of tape created by that bystander doctor but he has somehow replaced his Spider-shirt, which is whole again after the doctor tore off the left sleeve of the one he previously wore. (Maybe Stan and Johnny thought we wouldn't remember.) He hears the sound of tires squealing, looks down into an alley and finds an "old-fashioned hi-jacking" going on. A car has pulled into the path of a truck that "must be carrying some valuable furs or some such". Even with only one working arm, he leaps into the fray; bouncing off the roof of the truck to kick one hood in the chops ("Cheer up, fellas, it could be worse! At least I don't wear hob-nail boots!") and punching the other with his good arm. The first thug gets up only to be slugged in turn. Spidey quickly webs the crooks up. As he leaves, the truck driver yells out, "We could use ya in the Teamsters Union". "Sorry, pal!" says the webster, "The way things've been goin', I couldn't even afford the dues!" He now knows that his bad arm "hardly slowed [him] down at all" but he also knows "there's a big difference between putting two cheap hoods on ice and tackling the Lizard." Back up around the rooftops again, he continues his search for the Lizard, using web bridges because they're easier than web- swinging with one arm. "Glad I remembered to pick up my camera from where I left it when I last fought the Lizard" Spidey tells us, just in case you were worrying or thought Stan forgot.

On the other side of town, Martha Connors is awakened by the sound of a window being forced open. The Lizard is crashing Curt's lab; the place "where Connors keeps all his serums and chemicals" according to Liz. Stan adds a footnote here, saying "We told you last ish that the Lizard is unaware that he actually is Dr. Curt Connors, remember?" But is this true? Did Stan tell us that? And is the Lizard unaware that he is Connors? Well, I suppose he did tell us that on page 15 panels 2-3 of last issue when Spidey says, "You're not the Lizard! You're a scientist! Your name is Curtis Connors! Hear? Connors! Doesn't that name mean anything to you? Can't you remember your wife, your son?" and Lizzie replies, "You fool! You think you can save yourself by making up fairy tales?!!" But in Amazing Spider-Man #6, November 1963 he writes a letter as the Lizard telling Martha to "take Billy, leave, never come back." Maybe his memory of Connors decreases the longer he is the Lizard.

Getting out of bed, Martha watches through the window of the connecting door as the Lizard rummages about. As she perches protectively over the sleeping Billy, she can see the Lizard's silhouette, making her realize that Curt has indeed transformed again. She is certain that he wouldn't harm her or Billy but she stays put and doesn't confront him. In the lab, the Lizard goes through Curt's notebooks, looking for the formula that created him. He wants to "drop it into swamp waters everywhere" so that he'll "have a lizard army, mighty enough to conquer all of mankind." But he soon discovers that he doesn't understand the symbols, equations, or "any of this stupid scientific gibberish" in the books. Enraged, he throws the books onto the lab table, shattering the beakers and vials sitting there. He decides he doesn't need to understand the formula. He only has to find Curt Connors and force him to give up the formula. He leaves the lab climbing down the wall, head first, in an unconscious search for himself. The sound of breaking glass wakes Billy up. Not being Nick Lowe (ah, there's an old obscure reference for you), he is upset by the sound. Martha runs over to hug and reassure him. She does this by lying, of course, telling him that "the wind blew some of your father's beakers over" and that she has since closed the window. As Martha wonders what to do next, Billy says, "Mom, did you ever feel scared without knowing why?" (Of course, Billy should know why and Martha shouldn't have to worry about shielding him since he knew that Curt is the Lizard back in ASM #6, when he told Spidey, "D-don't hurt him Spider-Man! He's still... my father! Sob." But Billy seems afflicted by the same amnesia as his father.)

The "More Marvel Masterpieces" page advertises Fantastic Four #59, February 1967 in which "The Inhumans Break Free!" even as the FF try to deal with Dr. Doom having stolen the Silver Surfer's power; a plotline used in the Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer movie. These FF issues were Stan and Jack at their best. If you haven't read from about FF #44, November 1965 to FF #67, October 1967, you really need to do that. You're missing some of the best super-hero comic books ever. Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #7, February 1967 and Daredevil #24, January 1967 (guest-starring Ka-Zar), also advertised on this page, are fun too but do not compare to the concurrent FF stories.

One of the ads on the following page is for the "Amazing New Spy Pen" that allows you to " 'see' through walls like Solo and Ilya in the man from U.N.C.L.E." Note that the word "see" is in quotation marks meaning you're not really seeing through walls at all. Note that "man from U.N.C.L.E." is not capitalized, as a title should be. Note also that the coupon reads, "Please send me _____ "Spy-Pen(s)" in such small print that at first I thought the opening parenthesis was an "I" and the sentence read... well, never mind what I thought it read. Only $1.98 plus 27 cents shipping from Hidden Devices, Box 47, Northridge, California. A reputable company I'm sure.

The next morning at the Daily Bugle, Fred Foswell is heading out to get into his Patch disguise so he can spy on Peter Parker and "learn how he manages to get so many exclusive photos of Spider-Man" when Jameson button-holes him and tells him to investigate the Lizard sightings. (JJJ has apparently come to believe that the Lizard may actually exist.) He then snaps at Betty Brant and Ned Leeds for gabbing until the two tell him they are each on their coffee break. As JJ wanders off, hand to forehead, cigar in the center of his mouth, mumbling about how "the whole world is against me," Betty and Ned go back to making wedding plans. Betty tells Ned they "have to invite Peter Parker." (But there's no rush since the wedding is over a hundred issues away.)

Pete, meanwhile, is afraid to go out in public with an injured left arm since Spidey has been seen "also sporting his wing in a sling." He tries to conceal the injury by putting his hand in his pocket but it is too painful to leave it that way. So he has to go back to a sling (which I think he made himself out of an old bed sheet). "Why should anyone try to connect me with Spidey?" he declares. (And he's got a point. There must be hundreds of guys in New York wearing slings on any given day.) Then he comes up with the perfect lie (although he calls it an "excuse"). He'll say he hurt his arm on his motorcycle. With one arm useless, he has to leave the bike at home and take the bus. As he walks past it, he notes, "Mary Jane will flip when she sees how zingy it looks since I painted it that rollickin' red!" (He started painting it last issue but gave up halfway through. When did he finish it?) Arriving at Empire State University, Pete runs into Flash and Harry. Flash sees Pete's injured arm and says, "Whatcha tryin' to do, Useless? Make us think you're Spider-Man?" Pete drags out his motorcycle excuse and is surprised how easily it is accepted. "I should have known they'd never link me with Spidey!" he thinks. Flash runs off to "grab a cup of java with Gwen" while Harry tells Pete that Gwen is throwing a party for Flash when he gets his Army induction notice. (Flash was drafted in Amazing Spider-Man #43, December 1966.) Pete wonders why Gwen didn't invite him herself and Harry replies, "You haven't been around that much since Mary Jane made the scene!" Pete then complains that "sending my Aunt May away for a vacation took all the money I had." Harry tells him that his "dad's a chemist and he can use a brainy science major as a part-time helper." (Quite a leap from "my dad's a chemist" in 1966 to "my dad's the head of the biggest chemical company in the world" in the recent years except that Harry wouldn't say that now because he's, well, dead.) Pete promises to think about the offer but all he seems to be thinking about is Gwen.

Aunt May, off on her vacation at an unspecified location talks to a fellow traveler who is reading the Daily Bugle with a big "Lizard Menaces New York" for a headline. This traveler knows that May is from NYC and she thinks, "it must be terrible living there with creatures like the Lizard still at large!" May admits she is a bit worried because her nephew is there but since "he's such a quiet, studious lad" who is "probably at home right now, curled up with a good book and a glass of warm milk" she isn't worried too much. But let's not step away from these two panels just yet. Let's look at the first one carefully. May and her friend are outside, apparently at the beach. There is water right by them but also mountains. They are not in bathing suits and are, in fact, wearing sweaters. The traveler is not from NYC but is reading the Daily Bugle. (And JJJ seems to be really on board with believing in the Lizard judging from this headline.) Is this some mountain lake in New York State? In the second panel, they are suddenly inside with the beach showing through the window or playing on a TV screen or something. The mystery of May's vacation continues.

In Manhattan, Spidey is searching from rooftops and in sewers for the Lizard. His last try is the Central Park Zoo. He doesn't find him there either but at the House of Reptiles he finds a poster that reads, "Last Day! Exhibit World's Largest Collection of Reptiles! Will next be seen at Exhibition Hall in Philadelphia! Write to Reptile Research Foundation for free exhibit schedule." This convinces Spidey that Liz will be on that train to Philly since the exhibit will have thousands of reptiles for him to command. At the train yards, Spidey's spider-sense tingles and leads him right to the Lizard who is sunning himself (or something) on top of a railroad car. Though the Lizard turns and sees him, Spidey is still fast enough to leap in and knock him off the car. Using his one good arm, Spidey punches away at the now grounded Lizard but the reptile's skin is too tough and he brushes off the attack, knocking Spidey away with a swipe of his tail. Liz wrenches a piece of rail off its moorings and steps in to brain the web-slinger with it, but Spidey uses his speed to slip under and whap Lizzie in the solar plexus. The Lizard drops the rail but that's about all. Spidey ruefully thinks, "I can't stop myself from pulling my punches knowing he's really Curt Connors!" The Lizard, as Stan puts it, "has no such scruples." He brains Spidey with a two-handed punch. (From his "pounding reptile fists." You don't get to see that phrase every day.) Spidey's head is spinning as the Lizard picks him up and throws him at a train car, hard enough to smash the door to splinters. Even though the wall-crawler still lives (and is ripe for the picking as he crouches on one knee, trying to gets his wits together), the Lizard decides there is "no need to waste any more of my strength on you." Instead, he starts smashing open other train car doors releasing snakes from one car and crocodiles from another. (So, apparently these reptiles are not in cages or boxes or anything. They are free to roam through the train cars. I'd sure hate to be the guy who has to open those cars when they arrive in Philadelphia.) The Lizard orders the reptiles to "destroy Spider-Man" and Spidey is shocked to see that "the reptiles actually obey him!" He stands and girds himself for battle. He webs shut the mouth of the nearest croc but knows "there's not enough web fluid in the world to stop them all!" The Lizard orders the reptiles to attack faster. "Overwhelm him by sheer force of numbers!" he cries, "Spider-Man must die!"

But first three classic 60s panels with Mary Jane and Anna Watson. MJ tells her Aunt that she is going to the Frenzy Ville A Go-Go. "If the Beatles call, tell them I won't be long!" she says. Naïve Anna asks if MJ knows the Beatles. "Of course not!" MJ replies, "but I believe in positive thinking!" Anna is bringing a pot of vegetable soup to Peter. She asks MJ if she'd like to walk her there. MJ agrees. Anna tells her niece she's glad she hit it off with Peter. "He's just the least little bit square," says MJ, "But, outside of that, he really turns me on! I'll bet he'd be a real swinger if he'd let himself go!" But there's no answer at the Parker home. Anna is disappointed. She didn't think Peter was the type to go out at night. "Why not?" says MJ, "He walks, he breathes, doesn't he?" MJ promises "if I run into him at the disko (sic), I'll tell him what he missed!" Anna apparently goes home and eats soup. What these three panels have to do with anything is anybody's guess. Except Stan needed something to build the suspense for a bit before Spidey's impending battle.

In the train yards, Spidey is busy yanking snakes off of him as the crocs move in for the kill. He uses one snake as a whip to encircle a croc, pulls the croc over to him and grabs its tail. He then swings the croc around "as a giant whip" holding all the others "at bay." Lizzie orders the reptiles back into the train as it starts to pull out. (Since the guys running the train apparently never noticed any of the activity going on.) As he leaps into a car, Liz says, "I'll take my pets back to the swampland where they'll help me recruit millions more!" Now how does that work? The reptiles can communicate with each other? They go around the swamp saying, "Hey, you should hook up with me and the Lizard?" And how are they getting to the swamp anyway? Isn't this train going to Philadelphia?

Spidey isn't about to let the Lizard get away. He grabs onto a ladder on the side of one train car and comes along for the ride. As he climbs to the roof where the Lizard is, Liz smacks him in the head with his tail. But Spidey shrugs that off, swings up and kicks Lizzie in the head with both feet. Meanwhile, he's come up with a way to win "if I can make him mad enough, keep him following me." Leaping away from the Lizard, he mocks him with comments like, "Want me to tie my other hand behind my back?" and "Or maybe you'd like a new rule? Something like no footsies!" This works and the Lizard retaliates by pulling up a chunk of the roof and hurling it at Spidey, who ducks. Now I don't know why a couple of insults should make Liz "so filled with rage that he's forgotten everything else" when nothing else has done it but let's run with it. Spidey's running with it too, looking for the one car he needs. The Lizard pursues. Spidey finds the car, lifts up the trap door, and jumps in through the roof. The Lizard follows him. Once Liz enters the car, Spidey closes the trap door. From the moment Lizzie enters, we can see there's ice on the walls but he never seems to notice. Part of the reason is that Spidey lays into him right away to "keep him too busy to think." He pops him in the snoot with a right-handed "Bok!" and follows that up with a right-handed "Thrak!" (And the reason the "Bok" and the "Thrak" are both right-handed is because his left hand is still in a sling, remember?) The Lizard backs away but still doesn't realize where he is. Instead of "smashing through the wall of the car" he goes after Spidey with his tail but he's surprised to discover he can't manage more than "a mighty weak sweep." With his strength ebbing, the Lizard tries to throttle the web-slinger but he falls to his knees before he reaches his foe. As he completely collapses, Spidey explains, "Lizards flourish in warm temperatures. But extreme cold, such as you'll find in a refrigerator car, is the one thing that will weaken a big, bad, lacertilian reptile!" (Ooh! "Lacertilian!" I've never seen that word before. Let's look it up. My "Shorter Oxford English Dictionary" says, "Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the reptilian suborder Lacertilia, which comprises the lizards; lizard-like, saurian." Good one, Stan! I wonder how many kids learned that word from this comic? Obviously not I, since I had to look it up just now, but I bet others did.) So, yeah, Spidey lures the Lizard into a refrigerated train car and the big lacertilian dummy falls for it.

Now, though, Spidey worries that prolonged exposure to cold will prove fatal to Liz so he wraps him in a web-cocoon to insulate him. Still, he knows if Liz "gets too warm and gets free again, that's the ball game!" So he pulls the cord on the train to get it to stop, though I'm not sure they have cords like that in the refrigerator car. The train men are impressed enough with Spidey's appearance that they agree to "flag down a train heading back to New York." Soon after, Spidey is on his way back and it isn't long (only one panel) before he's lugging his web-cocoon into the window at Curt Connors lab. Once he enters and turns on the light, he can see that it "looks like a hurricane hit" the place. Either this sight shocks Spidey into dementia or the punches from the Lizard finally take their toll or there's an additional subplot Stan didn't tell us about, because Spidey says, after finding Curt's formula notes, "I'll bet the lab got wrecked when the Scorpion looked for the same notes only to realize he couldn't understand them, even if he found them." Since Spidey is speaking out loud, Martha Connors hears him and starts knocking on the door. "Is that you, Curtis?" she asks, "Are you all right?" Spidey calls out and identifies himself. He asks her to leave the door closed for now. "I'm trying to help!" he says.

Just then, the Lizard starts to stir. Hurriedly, one-handedly, Spidey mixes the needed formula. The angle we get doesn't show us the Lizard's face or the beaker with the formula so we have to take Spidey's word for it when he thinks, "Whew! That's that! He drained the flask!" Just then, the Lizard thaws out and is fully revived. Spidey wonders whether he's "saved Curt Connors or merely brought back the Lizard to menace us all?" Outside the room, Martha and Billy fret over Spidey's doings in the lab. Before they can get too worked up, Spidey opens the door and shows them Curt getting up off the table. Martha and Billy run up and hug Curt who tries to find words to express his gratitude to the web-slinger. Then Stan gives us an odd little panel: "Another Mighty Marvel First! Knowing how titanically talented our riotous readers are, we're leaving this panel for you to write your own dialogue! If you can get someone to play Hearts and Flowers softly in the background, it won't do a bit of harm, either!" The panel shows Spidey swinging out the window with a smiling Curt and Martha looking on. (Billy is probably smiling too but we can't see his face.) All four characters have empty word balloons pointed at them. Let's see if I can write the way Stan does... Curt: "Hah! He never got those stolen gems back from me!" Martha: "Curt, you sly dog, you! Buy me something nice!" Billy: "I guess I'm smiling but you can't see my face!" Spidey: "Gotta run! I need to track down the Scorpion for trashing your lab!" I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!!!

Now, instead of web-slinging all the way home (which would probably be perfectly safe since Aunt May is away on vacation), Spidey drops down to an alleyway and changes into his Peter Parker duds. He is weary "to the point of exhaustion" but not too weary to keep him from whining. "I'm almost sorry it's all over now!" he thinks, "At least, while I was fighting the Lizard, I didn't have time to think about my own personal problems." As he walks along the street Harry Osborn drives up in his convertible. Mary Jane is in the passenger seat. Both of these two must work fast because MJ only met Harry for about three minutes last issue (which was... what?... yesterday in Marvel time?). Now they act like old friends. They call out to Pete but he barely hears them. "I must have been day-dreaming," he says. "Tiger, you were the original one-man fog!" replies MJ, "If I didn't know you, I'd say you were strictly off the wall!" (Classic 60s Mary Jane-isms.) Harry offers Pete a ride but Pete turns it down, and then mopes about how MJ never worried about their broken date and just found someone else to take her out instead. "No doubt about it," Pete thinks, "that chick's as pretty as a pumpkin seed but, just about as shallow! And I never realized how icky it can be listening to a gal who's on all the time. Or maybe it's my fault! I'm just trying to blame my blue funk on her!" As he walks home, Peter worries about five different things in the space of one panel: 1) "It's almost time to make the next payment for Aunt May's vacation." 2) "I didn't get a single picture of the Lizard that I can sell!" 3) "As for that last batch of pix I shot, I never did develop them and they're ancient history by now, anyway." 4) "[W]ait'll Aunt May comes home... and sees my arm in a sling! She'll worry herself sick every time I get on my bike again!" 5) "On top of everything else, there's my studies... How'll I ever catch up now?" Just as he is about to enter his house, Anna Watson walks up behind him with that pot of vegetable soup she brought over before. (No, wait. It doesn't look like a pot of soup. More like a plate with a cover on it.) She scolds Peter for coming home late while his Aunt's away and tells him she'll do his laundry. When she sees Peter's arm in a sling, she wonders if she should call Aunt May but Peter tells her everything's fine and that he only "sprained it on my cycle." Alone in the house, he wishes he could heal before May gets home but doesn't think it's likely. He figures she'll worry about him on his motorcycle now but didn't know what else to say. All of this fretting gets to him and he sets the food down, no longer hungry. Up in his room, he throws his Spidey suit across the room blaming his alter ego for all his troubles. Then he sits, hang-dog, in the dark on his bed wondering why he does it, wondering, "Has Spider-Man become so much a part of me that I can never lose him again?"

In Manhattan, the Connors' family is all smiles. Curt wishes he could do something to repay Spider-Man but Billy and Martha scoff. "Imagine us doin' something to help Spider-Man!" Billy says. "What help could he possibly need from anyone else?" Martha says, "A person like him probably has everything a man could wish for!" Ah, that old Lee irony. You gotta love it!

"Next:" reads the final panel, "Peter Parker's Pad!" Hey, that's us! Or, er, that was us.

On the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page ("The Latest Low-Down On Marvel's Light- Hearted Luminaries For Literature Lovers At Large!"), Stan plugs an article on Marvel that appeared in Stars and Stripes, "the famous serviceman's newspaper." Last time he mentioned articles in "Ivy" and "New Guard" magazines. That's three possible Spidey appearances worthy of review that I don't have. Anybody out there reading this have them? Wanna write some reviews?

In other Bulletin items, Stan advises the readership to "tell your dealer that he should be sure to display the Marvel titles up front", that fans should stop sending "us your nickels, dimes, quarters, or postage stamps for our rings, mini-books, plastic figures, bubble gum cards, toys, or any of that jazz" since "we don't have any here at the Bullpen", deals with Marvelites writing in wondering why Superman appeared in centerspread ads touting "the New Super- Heroes Saturdays on CBS" ("[I]f a competitor wants to pay us his own good money in order to buy an ad in one of our mags, we're delighted. Actually, we consider it a great compliment to us-for that proves that no matter how they may hate to admit it, even they are willing to pay a bundle just to appear in a Marvel mag!" says Stan as if DC bought the ad rather than CBS), touts the "big Comics Fan Convention held in midtown Manhattan at the end of July" with guest of honor Jack Kirby, and solicits reactions from fans of the Marvel Super- Heroes on TV. A pretty active page as Bullpen Bulletins go.

And let's not forget the M.M.M.S. members: Alfred Lewis of Brooklyn, New York; Raymond C. Marshall of Mt. Home, Idaho; Bill Hanheide of Creve Coeur, Missouri; John Thomas Morgan of Richardson, Texas; Pete Lalonde of Quebec, Canada; Michael Howard of Chicago, Illinois; Jean Lum of Honolulu, Hawaii; Robert Cordee of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Dan Gerber of Baltimore, Maryland; Brian Alpin of Providence, Rhode Island; Bob Cretaro of Pekin, Illinois; James Knight of Crete, Illinois; Howard E. Mort of Plainsboro, New Jersey; Keith Knepley of Napoleon, Ohio; Tom Braswell of Wilson, North Carolina; J. Krampner of Brooklyn, New York; David La Velle of Fresno, California; Robert Carroll of Canton, Massachusetts; Peter Huard of Quebec, Canada; Dea Fried of New York, New York; Michael Combs of Mean, Kentucky (unless that's "Michael Cornbs"); Jackie Gordin of Glenwood, North Carolina; Joe Ambrose of Hillard, Oklahoma; Joseph Mierziva of Chicago, Illinois; and Steven Hernst of Ames, Iowa. That completes my typing lesson for this month.

In the Spider's Web, Dennis Marshall of Portsmouth, Virginia, displeased with the recent changes in his favorite superhero says, "I hope Peter gets run over by his own motorcycle!" But Gary Nowell of Paris, Texas is so overwhelmed by MJ's introduction in Amazing Spider-Man #42, November 1966 that he gushes, "it's the best book I've ever read in my whole life. This issue makes Stan a thousand times greater than Shakespeare! To tell you the truth, Stan, I always thought you were better than him, anyway. Good luck to the greatest bunch of artists, authors and letterers I've ever known!" (Will someone please go hose Gary down?) While Roland Bryer of Fair Haven, New Jersey chooses the following gimmick to try to get a letter printed: "I have chosen to direct my criticism towards Spider-Man #41. The most protuberant fallacy of this issue concerns the sound effects. In most instances the errors were commonplace and insignificant and can be overlooked, but you seem to have developed a monomania about 'Stomp!' Undoubtedly there are effects other than 'Stomp' which could have been used to herald the ponderous Rhino's approach to evidence his progress. You could have used even the simplest of effects, such as 'Clomp' or 'Tromp' to break this monotonous continuance, but you monomaniacs persisted in maintaining the same sound effect from the time of the Rhino's debut to the juncture of his defeat." And it stomps on and on in the same ponderous, monomaniacal way, using words in odd ways as if he wrote the thing with a Thesaurus in his lap for sentence after sentence until you think you're going to screech. (Hah! Got "screech" by looking "scream" up in the Thesaurus.) But don't laugh! He got the letter printed, didn't he?

Once again the yellow next issue box travels back in typo-time as Stan tells us, "wherever you go, whatever you do, be with us for ish #43, you're the one we did it for!" Um... a couple of months ago, Stan.

In General...

Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)

  1. Third appearance of the Lizard. (After Amazing Spider-Man #6, November 1963 and Amazing Spider-Man #44, January 1967.
  2. Peter apparently finishes painting his motorcycle with one injured arm between issues.
  3. Aunt May's sea shore includes mountains and may or may not be on TV.
  4. Spidey defeats the Lizard in a very cool way.
  5. Stan teaches us "lacertilian."
  6. An addled Spidey thinks the Lizard is the Scorpion.
  7. First do-it-yourself-blank-word-balloons-Spidey-panel
  8. The stolen gems from ASM #44 are completely forgotten.

The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this story. Warts and all:

Romita/Lee/Rosen

  • "Spidey smashes out" - Spidey confronts the Lizard on his own grounds against a literal trainload of reptiles.

    Overall Rating...

    I love issues where Spidey must figure out a clever way to defeat his enemy. I realize that Spidey is strong, fast, and agile enough to pummel any number of opponents but somehow those issues where he wins by knocking the crap out of the bad guy always leave me disappointed. So the scene where Spidey tracks down the refrigerator car and tricks the cold-blooded Lizard into it thrilled me. Success... and a science lesson from Stan. Can't beat that. I also love issues that feature lots of supporting characters. This issue features Spidey/Peter, Lizard/Curt, Martha Connors, Billy Connors, J. Jonah Jameson, Frederick Foswell, Betty Brant, Ned Leeds, Flash Thompson, Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy (in a thought balloon!), May Parker, Anna Watson, MJ, assorted thugs, reptiles, railroadmen and Aunt May's new friend. Stan pulls this off without sacrificing action or story. Today's stories don't feature that many characters in a year. So that is all to the good. Unfortunately, as I mentioned last time, the Lizard has never really done much for me. He runs around in a lab coat, threatens to take over the world with a loose confederation of reptiles, gets beaten and changed back to Curt Connors. The end. Turning him into a ruthless killer in later years only made things worse. At least Stan knew to use him sparingly. (Curt and the Lizard don't appear again until Amazing Spider-Man #73, June 1969.) There's more good than bad here and it's an improvement over the previous issue so let's call it three and a half webs.

    But whatever happened to those gems the Lizard stole in ASM #44 anyway?

    Footnote...

    Next: Shock follows shock! It's the Shocker!