Most of this material was originally written in the Summer of 2012. Due to matters outside of my control and various maneuvers, these segments had to be completely re-edited and recut to meet certain legal guidelines. Now, you finally get to see them.
How Dr. Connors Got His Arm Back
“The Amazing Spider-Man” is set for release this July and a new generation of Spidey fans are going to be introduce to the Lizard. But, before we can get too excited over the monster, we have to understand the man. Dr. Curt Connors is a GI medic who had to have his arm amputated after a bombing blast. Feeling like he needed to use his scientific know-how to reclaim his lost limb, Connors teamed up with his buddy Dr. Ted Sallis (Man-Thing) to create a regenerative formula. The formula worked, however the use of reptilian DNA made Connors turn into the green monster that we all know.
Spider-Man first encountered Connors/Lizard after he was challenged to investigate the wild claims being made about the creature near Coral Gables, Florida. For the first handful of appearances, The Lizard and Spidey fought and Connors was cured. Eventually, Connors relocated to NYC because that is the hub of all reality in the Marvel Universe. The Lizard continued to fight Spider-Man and the original X-Men, while Connors saved Aunt May and did some pretty noble stuff. It was an interesting parallel, but there was something bubbling under the surface.
Dr. Curt Connors has been a dual figure for Peter Parker. Much in the way that Norman Osborn and Dr. Otto Octavius functioned. All three characters were masters of science and achieved the things that young Parker wanted for himself. More importantly, Connors was a family man who craved the structure that Peter lost when Uncle Ben died. Needless to say, Peter naturally gravitated to the Doctor as a fatherly mentor figure for the next few decades. Peter would spent most of the 70s and early 80s serving as Connors’ lab assistant alongside such notables as Debra Whitman.
But, something happened around the time of the first Secret Wars. Years were spent with villains using Connors’ son Billy as a means to lure the Lizard out and eventually it led to the dissolution of Connors’ family. Peter watched as his mentor began to break and we saw the Lizard transformations shift into something far more savage. The Connors personality would spent the next 20 years become more permeable, as Connors started to slip into the background.
First his wife died from cancer due to exposure to hazardous chemicals. Later, Connors lost custody of his son after experimenting on him. Then, Connors finally snapped and killed Calypso (Haitian devotee of Kraven the Hunter) after she had been trying to take over his mind for years. Connors was becoming more and more savage, until he finally let go. Unfortunately, this meant giving his Lizard the mental ability and desire to eat his son & the kid’s new foster family.
The Connors family has never been stable post Connors’ powers. But, he got his arm back while being a monster. I’m not sure if Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were trying to make sense of this neogenic bargain, but there we go. Paul Jenkins and later writers have tried to make the argument that Connors was always in control while being The Lizard. I don’t buy that, as it puts Connors in a negative light for the duration of his creation. I do buy his attempts to go straight and try to bring his family back together. However, he was a victim of the dark and gritty comics at the time.
So many people forget that when Todd McFarlane was blowing up the charts, The Lizard was the main villain of the Spider-Man arc that he used to make his nut. The drooling, sharp teeth and desire to crouch and linger all became McFarlane trademarks. In that sense, The Lizard became the monster he was always destined to become. Frankenstein’s Monster wasn’t evil, but he had the power to lash out when he finally gave into his bestial nature. Much the same can be said for Connors.
What ultimately matters about The Lizard is that he’s one of many cautionary tales for Spider-Man. Unlike other heroes, Spidey is always walking that line between goofy webslinger and six-armed monstrosity that is trying to hide from sunlight. Connors shared the same interests and goals as Spider-Man, but we can’t ever pin down what went wrong. We know nothing of Connors’ life prior to his arm losing accident. Plus, we can’t say that if Spider-Man would’ve mutated into a giant spider…would he not have done the same things? No one can really pin down on how they will respond in a given situation until they’re in it.
The closest that Spider-Man came was having six arms for a few issues, but Dr. Connors helped him out of that with the aid of Morbius’s venom. Those are some rather bizarre monster movies parallels. Unfortunately, we’re not going to have the time to really touch upon Morbius. Let me put it this way. Science based Greek Vampire who really doesn’t want to drink human blood. The guy can’t keep a series afloat for more than a year. Blah, blah, back to The Lizard.
Mentor, father, walking bag of scales; the guy is interesting if you discount Rhys Ifans’ performance in the 2012 movie. However, he misses out on a key factor that we’re going to bring up in future chapters. Stay tuned, as we try to finally put this project to bed.