The Time Capsule – Spider-Man: November 1963 (Lizard On The Brain)

TimeCapsule

Welcome one and all to The Time Capsule! In this feature I’ll be highlighting an entire month of core titles for one character until his/her story is complete. The character that I’m currently focusing on is none other than Spider-Man. I’ll list any notable debuts, big moments, and favourite scenes from each issue. Hope everyone enjoys it as much as I enjoyed journeying back through time to put it together. Let me share the memories with you!

________________________________________________________

The Coveramazingspiderman06_00Amazing Spider-Man #6 (November 1963)
________________________________________________________

The issue starts with a bang as we are immediately introduced to our new villain: the Lizard. He’s taken up residence in the Florida Everglades and has staked out a swamp for his very own. He terrorizes anybody who infringes on his territory.sm06-1________________________________________________________

The Lizard is a hot topic, so much so that when Spider-Man picks up a copy of the Daily Bugle he’s met with a startling discovery: “The Bugle Challenges Spider-Man To Defeat The Lizard!” What is going on?sm06-2________________________________________________________

Spider-Man heads to the Bugle seeing an opportunity to be sent to Florida (all expenses paid) to battle the Lizard and also get some pictures to supplement his income. Unfortunately for him, Jonah isn’t biting. He doesn’t even believe the Lizard exists and just ran the challenge as a way to sell papers.sm06-3________________________________________________________

Peter heads to the museum to learn more about lizards just in case Jameson changes his mind though. While there he runs into Flash Thompson and Liz Allan…and two rather suspicious individuals.sm06-4________________________________________________________

Peter’s suspicions were spot on: they are thieves that have stolen a  ruby from the museum. Peter wasn’t the only one that thought they seemed off as a security guard caught them in the act as well. In order to flee with ruby in hand they grab Liz as a hostage.sm06-5________________________________________________________

Spider-Man saves Liz, knocks out the crooks, and delivers some quips.sm06-6________________________________________________________

Then Spider-Man sweeps her off her feet before taking his leave.sm06-7________________________________________________________

Liz is completely infatuated with her savior. Meanwhile, Peter overhears on the radio that the public are questioning why Spider-Man hasn’t gone to battle the Lizard. One way or another he’ll find a way to get there!sm06-8________________________________________________________

He enacts his plan. Spider-Man pays a visit to Jonah…sm06-9________________________________________________________

…and informs him that he’s going to do battle with the Lizard and recommends sending a photographer to cover the whole event. Hint, hint.sm06-10________________________________________________________

He changes out of his suit and readies himself for the job offer but not before stopping by to try to ask Betty Brant out on a date. She looks interested but we’ll never know what could have been as Jameson barges in on them. He tells Peter that he’s sending him to Florida after all…with Jameson joining him. Uh oh!sm06-11________________________________________________________

While on the plane, Peter gazes at some articles he brought along and stops on one in particular that talks about a reptile expert that lives near the Everglades area, a doctor named Curtis Connors. Hmmm…is there some kind of connection here?sm06-12________________________________________________________

Peter sneaks away from Jameson using the excuse that he needs to buy batteries and film for his camera. Dressed as Spider-Man, he journeys to the Lizard’s territory and is caught completely off-guard by his new foe.sm06-13________________________________________________________

Spider-Man realizes that the Lizard is not wearing a disguise but is really a giant lizard. The Lizard then proclaims that Spider-Man is doomed and Spider-Man replies with the line “Every time I turn around I get ‘doomed’ by someone else!” Nice one Spidey!sm06-14________________________________________________________

Spider-Man doesn’t fare too well and is thrown from battle. He spots Connors’ house and decides to seek some help from the expert.sm06-15________________________________________________________

But instead of finding Curt he encounters a woman sobbing. I wonder where Curt could be?sm06-16________________________________________________________

It turns out the woman is his wife, Martha Connors. Not only is she his wife but she reveals that Curt is actually the Lizard! She tells his origin of how he once was a surgeon who lost his arm during the war and then devoted his life to the study of  reptiles. His goal was to grow a new arm similar to how reptiles grow lost limbs.sm06-17________________________________________________________

To round out the first appearances of the Connors family we get our first look at Billy Connors, Curt’s son and the joy of Curt’s life. He wants to create something that will make Billy proud and after months of work his serum finally works…sm06-18________________________________________________________

…so he tries it out on himself and it works on him as well.sm06-19________________________________________________________

It gave him a new arm but there were unforeseen consequences, consequences like…being turned into a giant lizard.sm06-20________________________________________________________

Curt tries to find a cure for his condition but his regressed lizard brain cannot function on the level needed to make it so he leaves his family not wishing to cause them any harm. With the tale told, a cry from Billy causes Spider-Man to leap into action.sm06-21________________________________________________________

Billy runs away from the sight of the Lizard only to run into a real legitimate danger to his safety.sm06-22________________________________________________________

Lucky for him Spider-Man is there to save the day.sm06-23________________________________________________________

But this save just angers the Lizard who thinks Spider-Man is taking Billy away from him. Round 2 begins with Spider-Man quickly learning his webs are no match for the power of the Lizard.sm06-24________________________________________________________

Spider-Man is saved from another beating when the Lizard hears the voice of his wife which causes him to retreat. Spider-Man then goes back to the house and uses Connors’ notes in an attempt to create the cure using his own scientific knowhow.sm06-25________________________________________________________

Not only does he attempt it but he succeeds. Just then, he gets a surprise visitor.sm06-26________________________________________________________

The Lizard is ready for Round 3. He has returned because he senses that Spider-Man isn’t afraid of him, that Spider-Man is the only obstacle in his way of completing his diabolical plot. Curt is losing more and more of himself and is almost completely consumed by the Lizard.sm06-27________________________________________________________

Spider-Man doesn’t fare any better and the Lizard quickly dispatches him believing he has killed our hero. Lucky for Spider-Man, Martha is there to dig him out of the rubble.sm06-28________________________________________________________

She explains to Spider-Man of her husband’s master plan to give his serum to other lizards and create his own personal army. Spider-Man must stop him and get him to drink the cure. But how can he defeat such a powerful foe?sm06-29________________________________________________________

Spider-Man tracks the Lizard down using his spider-sense and discovers that The Lizard has amassed some of his army but has yet to give them the serum. Spider-Man ponders how he can stop him without harming him in the process. Or getting killed as well.sm06-30________________________________________________________

Round 4 begins with the Lizard vowing to destroy Spider-Man and Spidey quipping right back at him: “I outta have a record made of the line! I hear it all the time!” Another zinger!sm06-31________________________________________________________

Spider-Man lures him into a building and uses his speed advantage to combat the Lizard’s sheer physical power. Spider-Man eventually manages to outmaneuver him and force-feeds him the cure.sm06-32________________________________________________________

And thus ends the threat of the Lizard. Connors is back. Lizard no more!sm06-33________________________________________________________

Connors destroys his notes so that the Lizard experiment can never be repeated and readies to turn himself into the authorities to pay for his crimes. Spidey lets it slide though because he did no real harm and…he wasn’t himself…literally.sm06-34________________________________________________________

Peter brings Jonah his pictures of the Lizard but when Jonah questions how in the world he got these pics, Peter lies and tells him he bought it from an Indian Guide sensing Jonah’s suspicion. Jonah than tears them up and calls them fakes. He proceeds to chastise Peter for not getting any pics of Spider-Man either.sm06-35________________________________________________________

No money for Peter but at least he reunited a family.sm06-36________________________________________________________

Peter arrives home and decides to phone Betty and finally ask her out but remembers she’s working late so he decides to try Liz. Liz isn’t interested though because she only has eyes for Spider-Man. That old Parker Luck kicks in as his only real completion for Liz is himself…sm06-37________________________________________________________

My ThoughtsThe introduction of new Spider-Man villain the Lizard in this issue was an interesting one. Here was a villain that deep down wanted to be stopped, a generally good guy that was consumed by an experiment and irrevocably changed. This is what could have happened to Peter if the spider bite had changed him into a giant lumbering arachnid and not gifted him with just powers. What works for me the most is Curt Connors’ family connection, how much he cares for his son and his wife. They act as his emotional anchor, an anchor that slows down the process of being completely consumed by his primal instincts. He fights the change for them and when he realizes he can no longer guarantee their safety he leaves them knowing they’ll be safer without him in their lives. In my opinion, when the new Amazing Spider-Man movie removed his family from the plot it was a big mistake. This element adds so much to his character and makes him more sympathetic as you don’t want to see Spider-Man harm a man who essentially can’t control his actions, a man who has a loving family waiting for him. Without them you just get a Jekyll and Hyde monster that can’t revert back to Jekyll. Spider-Man also showed his perseverance in the issue while battling the Lizard, learning from his past mistakes and finally achieving victory after their fourth encounter when everything was on the line. He also flexes his mental muscles once again in not only coming up with the cure but in the way that he “convinced” Jameson to fly him out on the Bugle’s dime to do battle with this new foe. Finally, Peter’s romantic life heats up as well as he was on the verge of asking Betty out twice though I did consider it a little strange that after realizing he couldn’t get a date with her the next day he immediately turned to Liz. It wasn’t Betty’s fault she was working late at the office and you couldn’t phone her! Playing the field a little aren’t you, Peter?  Overall, this issue was an action packed, eventful, and memorable affair with Spider-Man even stepping up his game in the quip compartment and reforming his very first super-villain. Job well done, Spidey!
________________________________________________________

Have any of your memories you’d like to share in relation to this issue? Any other comments? Comment Below!

3 thoughts on “The Time Capsule – Spider-Man: November 1963 (Lizard On The Brain)

  1. The plot of this issue has been used for the script of a movie released in 2012: this makes you understand how brilliantly this issue stood the test of time.
    As you pointed out, one of the main reasons why this plot is so well-aging is that it’s based on another very well-aging plot, the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stan Lee must be very fond of this novel, because the Hulk is clearly based on it as well.
    Telling Lizard’s origin only at the end of the story was a great idea. This way the reader reads the issue without having all the pieces of the puzzle in his/her hands, and therefore he/she’s much more intrigued and concentrated than usual.
    You know that I’m a big fan of slice-of-life moments in superhero comics, so I agree with you that giving a lot of attention to Lizard’s family was another brilliant narrative move. I think that Marvel decided to cut this part from the movie because in a movie you can’t introduce too many supporting characters, or the audience will get confused: in Amazing Spider Man there were already a lot of relevant supporting characters (Gwen, Gwen’s father, Uncle Ben, Aunt May and so on), so adding the whole Lizard’s family to the cast could have been excessive. Or maybe it would have worked. I guess we’ll never know. : )

    • “Telling Lizard’s origin only at the end of the story was a great idea. This way the reader reads the issue without having all the pieces of the puzzle in his/her hands, and therefore he/she’s much more intrigued and concentrated than usual.”
      Agreed! It was like “POW” here’s our new villain and then we’re off! “Oh, you want to learn more about him? You’ll just have to wait until we’re good and ready!” 🙂

      “Or maybe it would have worked. I guess we’ll never know.”
      I just feel that we would have felt more attached to Connors in the movie. His love for his family is a defining characteristic. Also, Spider-Man wanting to find a cure to reunite him with his family is an added bonus.

      Overall this issue accomplished so much it is astounding: 4 fight scenes with the Lizard, the Lizard’s origin story, a Jonah sub-plot, stopping the thieves at the museum, and potential romance. It would take a comic 6 issues nowadays to do what this did in one. And it didn’t feel rushed at all!

      • Yes, decompressed storytelling definitely is one of the flaws you notice most of contemporary comics when you compare them with older ones.
        That’s why, when a writer doesn’t narrate a story in such a slow way (as Fraction does for Hawkeye, for example), readers instantly fall in love with it.
        Of course Hawkeye has a lot of other things that make it special and unique, but the fast-paced narration definitely is the detail a lot of readers appreciate most, in my opinion. Thank you for your reply! : )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s