By: Zeb Wells (writer), Chris Bachalo (pencils), Tim Townsend & Jaime Mendoza (inks), Antonio Fabela (colors) & Joe Caramanga (letters)

The Story: The Lizard is back, and Peter Parker has girl troubles.

What’s Good: This is why I love the almost weekly schedule that ASM is on.  Last week’s issue wasn’t so hot, but it’s Wednesday again, and time to turn the page to a good Spider-Man story so I don’t have to think about that unfulfilling Juggernaut/Captain Universe arc any more.  This is really a pretty simple issue: The Lizard re-emerges at the end of the issue and that promises a fun, dark and good story.  I like the Lizard as an enemy because he is truly dangerous, but Spider-Man is very conflicted about really going after him because of the fondness he has for Dr. Connors.  The entire lead-up to the Lizard re-emerging is really well written by Zeb Wells.  I love the little Lizard inner-monologue mixed with Connors’ explanation of the nasty instincts of reptiles.

Meanwhile, we get some good, Peter Parker love-life stuff.  I know it’s old and cliché for this series, but I really never get sick of the issues where it looks like Peter is hitting it off with a new girl and Wells writes his budding relationship with Carlie really well. Even us old married guys remember how wonderful it felt to hit it off with a new girl!

All of this good writing is paired with very expressive art from Chris Bachalo.  The style is a bit of a departure from what we’ve been seeing in ASM for the last few months, but that isn’t too big of a problem.  ASM readers know we are getting frequent art changes, so it isn’t jarring.  His work is really good at capturing body language, especially in the “not-a-date” scene between Peter and Carlie.

What’s Not So Good: It didn’t really ring that true that Peter was putting the rest of his love life on hold because he was seeing Black Cat exclusively.  I certainly don’t remember seeing that pop up anywhere else in ASM over the last ~20 issues since Black Cat showed back up.  This just felt a little tacked on.

Speaking of tacked-on, we get a not so subtle reminder that the Kravinoff’s are still gunning for Spidey.  I am looking forward to this story line, but I think the Spidey brain trust has been teasing this for too long.  I think they could have built this more effectively by just having Madame Web kidnapped in a back-up story right before the new Kraven story (much like the Lizard back-up last week).  With such a long build, I’ve kind of lost the story line.  Plus, it makes me feel like they’ve had Madame Web and Mattie tied up for months.

However, these are minor picks on a really good issue.

Conclusion: This was a really good Spidey issue.  We get to see Peter happy right about the time that Lizard is going to screw thing up for him.

Grade: B+

– Dean Stell