STORY: Zeb Wells

ART: Chris Bachalo, Emma Rios

REVIEW: Master Filmmaker Mark Mackner

Hola, Arachno-philes! ‘Tis I, Master Filmmaker Mark Mackner, your favorite Spidey enthusiast and local indie horror icon! In today’s article, I’ll be covering the thrilling conclusion to SHED, the 4-part LIZARD epic by ZEB WELLS and CHRIS BACHALO. This issue marks the end of not only SHED, but the GAUNTLET as well. This is it! The final step before the long-awaited GRIM HUNT and the culmination of SASHA KRAVINOFF’s dastardly plot. Throughout the Gauntlet, Spidey has faced down slightly revamped versions of ELECTRO, SANDMAN, MYSTERIO, VULTURE, RHINO, and THE LIZARD. He’s seen the destruction of The Daily Bugle Building, the death of Rhino’s wife, the end of his career as a photo-journalist, and the shocking death of young Billy Connors.

This has been Sasha Kravinoff’s strategy; to wear Spidey down physically and emotionally by hiring the likes of Electro, CHAMELEON, and DIABLO to strike at the wall-crawler, while deploying her daughter, the psychotic ANA KRAVINOFF (aka, the New Kraven) to abduct MADAME WEB and MATTIE FRANKLIN (aka SPIDER-WOMAN) and act as an instigator and catalyst to move the Gauntlet along.

OK, enough Gauntlet recapping. Let’s shift our focus to SHED, specifically, shall we? Last time out, Spidey had confronted Lizard over the brutal slaying of Curt Connors young son, Billy. I’m not ashamed to admit that Billy’s death really rattled me… Billy’s been in Spidey comics since the 60’s. It was almost like losing a family member. And YES, I AM that much of a geek. I mean, not a CLOSE family member, but still. This is a character I’ve known my entire life, and now he’s gone. Well, he’ll live forever in back issues, I suppose.

If you need any more info on #632, check out my last WEB-UP. So this issue begins in the midst of the havoc created by Lizard as he taps into the reptilian part of the human brain (Never knew about THAT, did you?), sending the populace of NYC into a frenzy of males challenging males, males mating with females, and all kinds of cold-blooded chaos. We start off with a female TV reporter on the scene, who is approached by a man wishing to mate with her. Her cameraman kills the dude with his camera, then rips the girls’ bra off. Sounds horrific, but it’s actually really fucking funny. “They are lizards, cold and strong”, says the Lizard, on another smashing title page. That’s two in a row. Kudos, Chris Bachalo!

It’s also nice to see The Lizard looking like, well, a lizard again. At the end of the last ish, the art shifted to EMMA RIOS’ pencils, and she had The Lizard looking all kindsa funky-looking, with a GIANT right arm with green blobs and spikes growing out of it, and long fingernails. Now, well, he’s back to the Bachalo look, and his arms are the same length again.

So, armed with several vials of Connors’ lizard serum (Which he created to change him back into a human), and a photo of Billy, Spidey heads into the fracas to face The Lizard and put a stop to all this reptilian rioting. Before the battle begins, Spidey has a brief rooftop encounter with a small lizard who actually responds to Spidey’s dialogue with “hurf” and “harf”. Didn’t know lizards made sounds like that. Spidey then kicks the lizard off the roof (Really, Spidey? An innocent little lizard?) sending it into a pile of trash where it’s found by THE LIZARD. “What is it, little brother?”, asks Lizard, before Spidey comes crashing down on top of him.

Before his rooftop leap, Spidey seemingly downs a vial of lizard serum. Wisely, he didn’t swallow ALL of it. He saves some and waits till Lizard attempts to swallow him again, then spits the stuff into Lizard’s mouth. While The Lizard reels from ingesting it, Spidey lunges at him with some hypodermic needles filled with serum. “Fight him!”, Spidey pleads, trying to get through to Connors. “Connors is dead”, Lizard replies, tossing the needles to the ground. Then, Spidey pulls his trump card, the portrait of Billy Connors.

This stops Lizard in his tracks. Perhaps there’s still a chance that Connors is still in there somewhere. Or, maybe not. Lizard’s next move is to order a crowd of hypnotized humans to attack Spidey. Spidey tells himself that he can’t hurt these people, as they’re merely innocents being controlled by the Lizard to do his wicked bidding. But then Spidey’s reptile side starts playing devil’s advocate, telling him he needs to defend himself. Meanwhile, Lizard retrieves the picture of Billy that Spidey dropped during the attack. He gazes at it thoughtfully, recalling Billy’s last words… “I’ve always known it”.

Then, just as Spidey is about to succumb to the brute force of the crazed mob, Lizard grabs him and carries him to the safety of a nearby rooftop. Lizard is confused by his feelings. After all, he “ate the offspring of a rival male”. This is a good, strong thing that he did, he reasons. Happens in the reptile kingdom every day. Yet, the picture of Billy makes him feel weak, and injured. Lizard struggles to make sense of this. “It’s called shame”, replies Spidey. “You killed a little boy. Get used to it”. Damn. This is some heavy shit here, and damned if it doesn’t get to me. I haven’t been moved like this by a Spidey comic in quite some time.

It’s here where Lizard feels human for the first time. This is not Curt Connors. This is THE LIZARD feeling regret over what he’s done. Spidey thought he could appeal to Connors, but I bet he never imagined he’d rock The Lizard in this way. “I could not see this before I took Connors’ brain. Only knew what was danger, or what was prey. Only knew to run or bite.” He continues, “But there is more, yes? Much, much more”.

With this, Lizard relinquishes his mind control of the citizens, leaves Spidey to recover, and takes off. “He let me go”, Spidey thinks to himself. “Why?” Then he finds the cracked and bloodied picture of Billy Connors. Heart wrenching. Absolutely heart wrenching.

The part where Lizard tries to logic with Spidey is really interesting, because it reminds you that the Lizard is, well, a lizard. He’s not exactly EVIL, he gets by on instinct, just like any other reptile. He may be bigger, and have opposable thumbs, and the ability to speak, but ultimately, he’s a big lizard. You can’t judge him in the same way you’d judge an entirely human villain. To kill The Lizard would be like destroying the tiger who attacked Roy of Sigfried and Roy, or the killer whale who killed the trainer at Sea World. The Lizard is more animal than man, and while his killing of Billy is despicable, he doesn’t have the same abilities of reason that other villains do, and just ignore. SHED has painted a fascinating portrait of one of my favorite classic Spidey villains, and the loss of Billy added a real emotional wallop. Kudos to all involved!

Emma Rios supplies the art for the epilogue, where Peter goes to Aunt May, needing a shoulder to cry on after his emotional ordeal with the Lizard. If you’ll recall, Aunt May was corrupted by MR. NEGATIVE’s touch a little while back, and has since been a total fucking cunt to everyone, from her new hubby, to Peter, and even the homeless people at the FEAST shelter. Peter shows up as a complete mess, just needing a little unconditional love. May, seeing the state that Peter’s in, fights through Negative’s spell and comforts her beloved nephew. A really sweet moment.

Time to wrap this one up…

STORY: A++. I love, love, LOVE this story!!!!!!


And THAT is the WORD, so sayeth the MASTER!!!!!!

Check back soon for my review of this week’s other new ASM, #634, the beginning of the GRIM HUNT!!!!!

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