Science continues to be placed at the forefront of Dan Slott’s stories, here both combating and affecting two conflicted Spider-Man villains. Dr Curtis Connors was among his earliest foes, a scientist who experimented with lizard DNA in order to re-grow a lost arm. He succeeded not only in regenerating his arm, but also in transforming himself into a large lizard, now resident below the sewers. Dr Michael Morbius was even more tragic, a biochemist with a degenerative blood disorder, whose self-developed cure transformed him into a vampire. He’s more adept at controlling his urges than the Lizard, but his is a permanent transformation.

Giuseppe Camuncoli is back pencilling, sometimes inking his own pencils, sometimes leaving it to Klaus Janson, but looking great throughout.

Morbius has been working in Horizon labs, contributed decisively to settling the Spider Island fiasco, and has been researching a cure intended to save both himself and the Lizard. His intentions are as pure as his methods are distasteful, desperate and compromised, but his serum seemingly reverts the Lizard back to his human identity. As a device to increase the tension, though, Slott is up front about the serum only being partially successful. Connors again looks human, but captions reveal the effect has been to meld the Lizard’s personality onto his mind, so when brought to Horizon labs he submerges his primal instincts enough to deceive his rescuers.

That’s a decent plot to begin with, but where Slott takes it from there is actually rather wonderful and possibly the best use of the Lizard since his tragic original appearance. For comparison purposes, and to pad an otherwise slim volume, there’s a Lizard story from the 1990s run of Untold Tales of Spider-Man, the premise being that these occurred early in Spider-Man’s career. It’s frothy fun from Kurt Busiek and Ron Frenz, but as this was a continuity based title it’s an odd issue to reprint as many questions are left hanging.

Both Slott and Busiek are very confident with Spider-Man’s dialogue, providing witty moments without over-egging, which is a finer balance than might be assumed, but Slott also extends this to the supporting cast, and the Lizard’s internal monologue is a creepy treat.

The next volume in the series is Danger Zone.