Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #102. Morbius & the Lizard

Amazing Spider-Man #102, Morbius, the Lizard and a six-armed Spider-Man
"VAMPIRE AT LARGE!"

(Cover from November 1971.)

Written by Roy Thomas
Drawn by Gil Kane
Inked by Frank Giacoia
Lettered by Artie Simek


What happens:
During his fight with Morbius, the Lizard's flung into an electrical device which knocks him out. As he lies unconscious, Morbius tries to drink his blood but Spider-Man stops him and the vampire flees. However, Morbius' bite has had an odd affect on the Lizard because now he has Curt Connors' mind. Spider-Man and Connors reason that Morbius' system must contain an enzyme that caused the change and that it might also be the cure for Spider-Man's condition. Armed with this knowledge, they set off after the vampire.

They catch up with him in the city and, after a fight, manage to gain a sample of Morbius' blood. But the living vampire flees, taking the hard won sample with him. Spider-Man gives chase and his quarry falls into the river where he begins to drown.

But, as Morbius sinks, Spider-Man manages to snag the vial of blood, with his webbing. Fortunately for him, the enzyme works and, within seconds of taking it, his extra arms are gone.

The Verdict:
This is billed as a double-length issue, one of a whole range published that month as Marvel looked to gain a lead on their rivals DC. The experiment was short-lived, dumped after just one month and, in retrospect, it was probably not a bad thing the policy was ditched. This does seem too slight a tale to be told over so many pages. The scene in the TV newsroom feels like pure, out-and-out padding, and the flashback scenes revealing Morbius' origin could easily have been done more succinctly.

Much as I love him, Roy Thomas really is stretching our faith in dumb luck with this issue. The fact that Morbius' blood just happens to contain the enzyme that's the only thing that can cure Spider-Man's current condition is stretching it but then Spider-Man's luck in accidentally snaring the vial - when he's trying to snare the drowning vampire - is pushing things way too far. Thomas tries to get himself off the hook by later implying Spidey was subconsciously more interested in saving the serum than in saving Morbius but it really doesn't wash. Over-all it's a disappointing end to what, last issue, had started out so promisingly.

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