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The Lizard(pop culture)
“Asuper-hero is nothing without a super-villain!” claimed writer Stan Lee's opening caption to Marvel Comics' The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #6 (1963), in which Lee and artist Steve Ditko's wallcrawling wonder came “Face-to-Face with … the Lizard!” And while this early addition to Spider- Man's rogues' gallery is one of the hero's deadliest foes, he is also one of his most trusted colleagues. In the Florida Everglades, hunters and locals are frightened by a truculent half-man, half-reptile who commands “the strength of a dozen bulldozers” and whose scaly skin deflects bullets. Effortlessly snapping a massive tree from its trunk and chucking it at trespassers, the Lizard warns humans to avoid his swampy domain. A Daily Bugle publicity stunt lures Spider-Man from New York City to Florida to capture the Lizard, but Spidey soon regrets his involvement when he meets the creature with boundless stamina and a 6-feet-long tail that whips with pile-driver force. The Lizard is actually herpetologist Dr. Curt Connors, an amputee who unlocked the secret of reptiles' limb regeneration, but in tragic turn of events—the stuff from which scientists turned supervillains are made— Connors metamorphoses into the reptilian mancreature. Holing up in an abandoned Spanish fort and protected by alligators that do his bidding, the Lizard plans to repopulate Earth with mutated reptiles, restoring “his” species to their former sovereignty over the planet. Implored not to harm the Lizard by Connors' wife, Martha, and son Billy, Spider- Man is narrowly able to administer an antidote that reverts the rapscallion to his original human state. The affable, one-armed Dr. Connors joined Spider- Man's supporting cast in Amazing Spider-Man #32 (1966), conducting research in New York and aiding the web-slinger in obtaining a serum to save the life of Aunt May Parker, Peter (Spider-Man) Parker's sole relative, whose blood had become irradiated after a transfusion from Peter. After a few cameos, in issue #43 (1966) Connors assisted Spider-Man in creating an additive to the hero's web fluid that burned through the dense armored hide of the rampaging Rhino. Before Connors could enjoy his newfound role as Spider-Man's benefactor, tragedy befell him in issue #44 (1967) when, to his dismay, he again transformed into the Lizard. Drawn in this second appearance by Spider-Man's new artist, John Romita, Sr., the single-minded Lizard revived his plan of reseeding the world with reptiles. Spider- Man intervened, but sprained his shoulder in his rematch with the Lizard. The injured web-slinger— ironically now with “one arm,” as was Connors before his mutation—struggled through a Lizardcontrolled army of snakes and alligators from a city reptile exhibit before deducing his enemy's weakness— extreme cold, “the one thing that will weaken a big, bad, Lacertilian reptile,” by luring the Lizard to a train's refrigerator car, where the beast collapses. The tragic saga of Curt Connors has continued throughout the decades; the scientist's horrific transformations slip into remission and he resumes normalcy with his family, only to have their lives upended by his periodic, uncontrollable alterations. The Lizard has often struck at the most inopportune moments for Spider-Man (as if there were ever a good time for the reptilian rogue to appear), as in the 1971 storyline in which the wall-crawler, cursed with six human arms after his attempt to rid himself of his spider-powers went awry, was battling the living vampire Morbius when the Lizard reared his ugly head. In a 1980 clash, Spider-Man was briefly turned into the Spider- Lizard. But no matter the degree of devastation left in the Lizard's wake, Spider-Man remains dedicated to helping the man beneath the monster. Usually unable to control his transformations, the superhumanly strong Lizard's tail snakes with a lightning speed that almost defies Spider-Man's protective spider-sense. A network of tiny claws in his hands and feet enable him to scale concrete walls or other sheer surfaces, and he can run and leap at speeds of over 40 mph. The Lizard's coarse skin buffers him from moderate attacks, and he can telepathically exert control over any reptile he encounters. The Lizard is unaware that he is actually Curt Connors, although vestiges of his human memories linger, and the sight of his wife and son have been known to disorient him. Connors must eternally contend with the primordial beast within, hoping that the Lizard will forever remain dormant—but as comic-book history has shown, this lethal Spider- foe cyclically returns every few years for another romp with Spidey. A basilisk-like alternate version of the Lizard was introduced in 2002 in Ultimate Marvel Team- Up #10, part of Marvel's “Ultimate” reimagining of Spider-Man and other characters. In that reality, Dr. Curt Connors was also responsible for creating the Ultimate version of another Spider-foe, Carnage. The Lizard has frequently slithered out of comics and into television animation, appearing in every one of Spider-Man's cartoon incarnations except for one, Spider-Man Unlimited (1999–2001), with Gillie Fenwick, Joseph Campanella, and heavy-metal-rocker-gone-Hollywood Rob Zombie lending their gravelly voices to the supervillain. On the live-action big screen, Dr. Curt Connors was mentioned in the Sam Raimi–directed blockbuster Spider-Man (2002) and appeared in Spider-Man 2 (2004) as a college professor of Peter Parker's, with actor Dylan Baker in the one-armed role; the character's inclusion suggests that the Lizard may eventually emerge in the burgeoning film franchise. In the toy and collectibles market, a cloth-dressed, 8- inch poseable Lizard action figure was released in the mid-1970s in Mego's popular World's Greatest Super-Heroes line, and in the 1990s and 2000s Toy Biz has produced several Lizard figures. Both Bowen Designs and Art Asylum have issued coldcast porcelain mini-busts of the Lizard in the 2000s.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.