Welcome to the world of a teen-aged Spider-Man who exists not in the long-ago time of the early 1960s, but re-imagined into the modern era with all of the exciting nuances, subtle chills, and top-of-the-park fun from the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. It is important to say that while it is certainly true that these stories are targeted for a younger audience, it should be noted that there are plenty those of us "old timers" who were around during those halcyon days who find this title as a welcome friend. In this version of the Marvel Universe, it is present-day America, and Peter Parker is still 15, attending Midtown High, and a part-time freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle. This, my friends, is the Marvel (Adventure) Universe, and we are so happy that it is here.
As most of these stories begin, we are thrust right into the middle of a fight scene between Spidey and a monstrous Lizard in human form. As usual, Spidey is giving us his usual wise guy with a twist patter as he taunts and smacks around this lizard creature. At first, we are lead to believe that the lizard is Dr. Curtis Connors, only after a couple pages of bashing each other through brick walls and such, we learn our mistake, that the lizard creature is actually some poor young gal who, after being clobbered by Spidey, reverts to her human form much to our (and Spidey's) surprise.
As soon as she becomes human, Spidey scoops her up and hustles her off to the hospital. The next say at Midtown High as Peter arrives at school; he is approached by the ever lovely Liz Allan who invites Pete to join her, Flash, and the gang, who are going to the movies. At first, Pete balks, but Liz presses the issue, explaining to Pete that while Flash and his thugs are always picking on him, she knows that he is an OK guy, and that he has always helped her with her homework, and she wants the others to know that he is OK. Peter relents, and agrees to accompany the kids to a flick.
After school, Peter stops by the lab of Dr. Connors, and manages to charm his way past his secretary. Once inside the Dr.'s lab, he sees that it has obviously been trashed by someone. As Peter sifts through the debris of the lab, he finds an email from someone who apparently knows about Connor's dalliance with reptiles. Preparing for the worst, Peter gathers up as much of the antidote to the Professor's delicate "condition" as he can carry, and — switching into his red-and-blues — heads out to find his friend.
Swinging through midtown, Pete is about to turn in, head out to meet Liz and the others and begin again in the morning when he happens across yet another lizard creature. Instead of capturing the faux lizard, Spidey follows it back to the underground steam pipe room where it came from, which leads him to; a nest full of other lizards. Suddenly, our teen hero finds himself fighting off not one, but a dozen of anthropomorphic lizards. Just as he is about to either douse them all with antidote or get his webs handed to him, they all suddenly revert to human form.
Heading further underground, Spidey soon cones across not only Dr. Connors, but the real culprits, The Serpent Society (Cobra, Anaconda, Cottonmouth, and Sidewinder) whom he previously met in Marvel Adventures Avengers #11. With no thought to his own safety, Spidey makes his presence known and confronts the lethal lizards. As he approaches, Connors reveals that the Serpents want him to contaminate the City's water with his lizard formula, turning all of New York into mindless Lizards so that the Society can rule them, creating a reptile paradise.
Realizing that he needs to do something quick Spidey lets fly with a fist full of webbing and pulls down a wall of barrels on top of the Serpents. Unfortunately Anaconda blocks the bulk of the barrels, protecting his teammates even as Cobra and Cottonmouth go after the Spider. Spidey takes the hit from Cobra, but manages to web Cottonmouth's mouth shut. As Spidey continues to smack around the Serpents and Lizards alike, he tells the Society that the Lizards form doesn't keep, and they change back after just a couple of hours. It is at this point that Connor shouts out that the first batch of his formula was faulty, diluted, and that the current batch is much stronger. Anaconda manages to get his expanding arms encircled around Spidey's check and manages to subdue him for the moment. Sidewinder tells Connor that it is time to do the bidding of the Society. Connor wavers, but the voice of Spidey pulls him back, and he drinks the entire formula himself, morphing into a gigantic version of his alter ego.
Acting out the better side of valor (or just displaying themselves as big fat chickens), the Serpent Society take a quick power, and vanish, leaving Spidey to deal with the super-sized Lizard. Bursting out of the underground hideout, the over-sized Lizard starts chasing Spidey through the streets of NY. Once Spidey gets a good distance on the Super-Lizard, he turns and tosses all of the vials of antidote down the beast's throat. Thankfully, it causes Connor to revert to his human form, and Spidey then gets him to safety.
Later that evening, Peter meets up with Liz, Flash and the gang, who are preparing to go to a movie, only when Peter learns that the flick they are intending to see is Megasaur Takes Manhattan, he decided that he has seen enough cold-blooded lizards for one day, and decides to beg off, in spite of what Flash and the others think of him.
Ah here we go; some sideways reference that this is (perhaps) the same universe in which the Marvel Adventures Avengers live. Spidey met this crew of scaly ner'do wells in Marvel Adventures Avengers #11. As a stand-alone, this story does quite well. Spidey spins his quips, fights the bad guys, and saves his friends, yet in the end, Peter gets the shaft.
Seriously, kids, this is my kind of Spidey story. Ya just gotta love this stuff.
As always, there is a new one-page of Chris Giarrusso mini-marvel story at the end of this tale. Sadly it again, doesn't have Spidey in it, but delivers a very funny Secret Invasion tie-in involving the Fantastic Four. Again, it is hysterical.
As always there is more Chris Giarrusso that can be found at his website.