Long time Marvel editor Ralph Macchio is back with a Spider-Man one shot just in time for Far From Home and it’s about…The Lizard? Guess Mysterio was busy. Nevertheless, Curt Connors is here to wreak havoc with the assistance of artist Chris Allen in a fun, classic-feeling Spider-Story that also unfortunately lacks any apparent point.
What’s it about? Marvel’s preview reads:
PETER PARKER’s got a real shot – a chance for a spot in a competitive Empire State University program as a high school student. Nothing’s going to keep him from his goal…unless the old Parker luck strikes again! And a crime boss’s interference with an experiment of DR. CURT CONNORS threatens to do just that, as an unexpected run-in heralds the return of the deadly LIZARD!
Ah, that classic Parker luck. To his benefit, Macchio writes it well, and I like the balance of Peter’s youthful inquisitive nature versus his moralistic hard lines under the mask. Especially so, against a really vicious (and on the nose) Lizard who is lashing out at all of humanity in an understandable, but still harsh way. It’s a classic battle of means to an end that I think benefits the narrative as it paints Macchio’s picture of Spider-Man’s world uniquely. There’s a touch of humor in hired goons running away en masse from a fight seconds after boldly stealing scientific secrets from Connors, and the heroic highs versus the seedy lows of Spidey’s NYC are played up well.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point to the central plot. While deeply sympathetic and relatable, the premise doesn’t tell us much about Connors we don’t already know or advance Peter’s life in any actionable or interesting way. The fact that this is a one-shot out of continuity despite utilizing the visual motifs of Spencer’s Amazing run doesn’t help clarify the issue. Where does anything go from here? There’s a neat little bow but what was gained or lost? Why?
Luckily, Chris Allen, accompanied by colorist Rachelle Rosenberg does channel that visual aesthetic very, very well. The credits page, picturing Connor’s transformation from man to Lizard is effective and tense and things only ramp up from there. This is a frenetic, fast-paced issue that hits all of the classic Spidey calling cards well without losing any of the plot or choreography. There’s a well executed car chase, sensible fighting, high-flying web-swinging and an expressive Slinger all the same which is much harder to do than one might think. Taken in with Rosenberg’s color work which puts deep reds, forest greens, and purples against each other things are easy to digest and still dynamic and exciting.
Ultimately, this is a story I don’t mind, but one that doesn’t feel vital or necessary. It lacks a central direction or purpose despite excellent execution, and its separation from any continuity or stakes really hinders it more than I think the creators or editorial would like, to say nothing of how rote and on the nose some of the dialogue is. The art and classic feel of the battle are a reverent kind of refreshing, and long-time Spider-Man fans will probably still enjoy it but I can’t imagine recommending it to anyone as a real standout.