By Tim Stevens
While the weather may be warming up by April 2010, Spider-Man's world will remain decisively cold-cold-blooded.
Thanks to writer Zeb Wells and artist Chris Bachalo, a Webhead battered and brutalized by the ongoing events of The Gauntlet will find only more pain awaiting him, courtesy of classic villain the Lizard. This return may hurt Peter Parker more than any of the other foes he's encountered during the storyline thus far.
"As a human, he's one of Spidey's most trusted friends," assistant editor Tom Brennan explains of Doctor Curt Connors, the Lizard's alter ego. "But as the Lizard, he's beyond control."
"Peter is hyper-sensitive to Connors' plight," Wells adds. "He's been there every step of the way, and so feels the classic 'Spidey responsibility' towards him."
Both Wells and editor Steve Wacker point to the character's dual nature as key to the Lizard's status as a character fans love and fear.
|Spider-Man vs The Lizard by Chris Bachalo|
"I think he works as a microcosm of the human condition, if I may attempt to make all of fandom's eyes roll at once," Wells further elaborates. "I think we're all trying to figure out what it means to be human, while we're still somewhat under the control the simple instincts buried in ancient sections of our brains. Sometimes this animal gets out and shames our humanity with its primal truth."
Those instincts long submerged proved the key this creative team needed to bring back Connors' reptilian half.
"When we got to the Lizard, Zeb's the one who really keyed in on the concept of the reptilian portion of the human brain," Brennan recalls. "That bit of science really drove the rest of the story beats, and Zeb just picked up the ball and ran with it."
Part of Wells' plan includes a new spotlight on the animal side of Connors that did not paint a simple "human good, Lizard bad" portrait of the character.
"I think in the past Lizard stories have focused more on the tragedy of Connors' condition [and] I wanted to swing a bit more the other way in order to hopefully tread some new ground," the writer previews. "I became more interested in elucidating the tragedy of the Lizard's condition."
One person unconcerned with the aforementioned tragedy will be the Wallcrawler, who remains dedicated to the man in the monster.
|The Black Cat by Chris Bachalo|
Unfortunately, Spidey's effort will not go unhindered.
"He'll fail to stop [Connors' change into the Lizard] because of Ana Kraven's manipulation," Wells teases, revealing a connection to the manipulative former wife of Kraven the Hunter driving the events of The Gauntlet. "Once the Lizard is free of Connors, he'll attempt to free himself of other threats to his well-being. Spider-Man is pretty much at the top of the list."
With Wells' pitch wowing the editors, they still needed an artist capable of doing the approach justice and needed only look to the recent past.
"Chris Bachalo and Zeb Wells teamed up at the start of 'Thrice Monthly Spidey'-in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #555-557-and we're still getting rave reviews about their chemistry," says Brennan. "Both have a very distinct, off-beat view of the world and their story telling styles mesh well."
This natural partnership, in turn, helped the writer further up his game as well.
"I think teaming up with Chris Bachalo on art has really inspired [Wells] too and they plan on taking the character in a direction that should catch readers off guard," divulges Wacker. "Chris's take on Curt Connors is very creepy and approaches disgusting, so it should be fun to recoil in horror at every page."
"What Lizard does in this story will shock you," Brennan promises, "[Wells and Bachalo] perfect to bring Doc Connors' scaly secret identity back to give Spider-Man the fight of his life!"
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