By: Zeb Wells (writer), Chris Bachalo & Emma Rios (pencils), Tim Townsend, Jamie Mendoza, Victor Olazaba & Bachalo (inks), Antonio Fabela (colors) & Joe Caramanga (letters)

The Story: The Lizard continues his rampage through NYC.

What’s Good: Wow!  This was the kind of issue that restores one’s faith in superhero comics.  I read a LOT of superhero comics and most are just “okay”: The story chugs along, they fight bad guys, the art is okay and all the furniture is returned to its original position in the end.  Rinse & repeat.

The entire Gauntlet story line that has been running through ASM since ~#612 has had great updates of all of Spidey’s classic rogues.  And there have been some really good stories featuring Electro, Sandman & Rhino, but this redo of the Lizard just takes the cake.  From the really surprising and tragic event that occurs in the opening pages to learning about the Lizard’s new, scary and unexpected powers, this issue just never lets up.  Lizard has been one of my favorite Spidey rogues for ~30 years and he is better than ever with this update.  I’ll also add that this cool update happens without trampling all over prior continuity either.  Kudos!

Although we have split art duties again on this issue between Chris Bachalo and Emma Rios, it is handled much better than last issue where it really looked like “they” called Rios in to save the ship date.  This time they just have Rios do a few pages at the back of the issue after a natural transition point in the story and it looks like both artists really prospered from this as if they knew what they had to do going in.  I think Bachalo is one of the better comic book artists out there and his work on the first part of this issue is just incredible.  The hectic and harried panel designs are perfect for a fight with the Lizard.  The pages by Rios are also excellent and more in keeping with the overall look and style of ASM for the last few months.  She can draw ASM whenever she wants in my opinion.

What’s Not So Good: I guess I have to come up with something, so I’ll harp on the need to have two artists on an issue.  Even though they both do good work, I wish that we could have just one artist per comic.  But….you kinda have to accept this to get ASM 3X per month.

The only other thing that confused me was what the heck was growing out of the Lizard’s forearms?  They look almost like the spikes/spines on Batman’s forearms.  And we never really got a good look at them to see what was up.  Maybe that was intentional?

Conclusion: One of the best superhero comics I’ve read in a LONG time.  It will be hard for the finale to this Lizard arc to live up to this issue, but we can hope!

Grade: A

– Dean Stell