By: Zeb Wells (writer), Chris Bachalo & Emma Rios (art), Tim Townsend, Victor Olazaba, Mark Irwin & Bachalo (inks – over Bachalo’s art only), Antonio Fabela (colors) & Joe Caramanga (letters)

The Story: The wrap up of The Lizard story line: The Lizard personality has completely driven Curt Connors from his mind and gained the ability to telepathically cause humans to release their inner lizard.

What’s Good: I’ll miss Chris Bachalo after this issue.  So much so, that I went and dug out a bunch of older issues of Uncanny X-Men that he drew for back-issue reading.  I’ve said it on the last few issues, but I love his art.  It is so nice to see someone just drawing without using all sorts of the bad elements of photo-reference (i.e. tracing).  I don’t need a comic book to look like a photograph and this art just screams “comic books!” at you.  Plus, his artistic design work through this issue is top notch from the panel layouts to the way that Spidey’s mask gets all wrinkly when he pulls it up to drink.  Nice work!

It has been true for every Spidey-rogue who we’ve seen in the Gauntlet, but I like how the Lizard comes out of this arc.  By the end of the story, it seems like the personalities of Lizard and Connors have basically merged and the reptile brain starts to feel some compassion and shame for having killed Billy (Connors’ son).  It will be interesting to see how this creative choice plays out in the future because one of the defining characteristics of Lizard has always been the split personality, but I’ll give the creators credit for doing something bold.  You can only do so much with the Lizard as he was before: Connors loses control, Lizard rampages, Spidey does something to help Connors regain control, The End.  Now I have no idea what will happen the next time Lizard shows up.

Zeb Wells must own chickens.  He really captures the essence of what reptiles are like (and chickens are basically just lizards with feathers).  The thing I’ve always said about chickens is that they make me really glad that I’m not small because they’re nasty, remorseless things and that is how he writes the reptile-brain whether it is in The Lizard or in the people he is affecting.

I’m also going to give a kudo to Wells for resolving the “crappy Aunt May” story line.  The absolute low-light of the Gauntlet mega-arc in ASM was when Mr. Negative turned Aunt May into a nasty person, so I’m really glad to see that just wiped away in a matter of pages.  Thanks for not making us endure an entire issue devoted to that nonsense!

What’s Not So Good: I’m struggling to come up with anything.  Seriously…  If I had to pick at one thing it might be that I can’t really tell what this new Lizard looks like.  It may be intentional on Bachalo’s part, but all we get are these panels where you can see part of the Lizard.  Can’t tell if he is 15 feet tall or man-sized.  Can’t tell if he is bipedal or not.  Again, this may be intentional, but I found myself flipping back and forth a lot trying to see what it looked like.

Conclusion: Really, really good!  A great harmony of storytelling and art.

Grade: A-

– Dean Stell