"Amazing Spider-Man" #688, while supremely market conscious, lacks the heart and enthusiasm that I've come to expect from books written by Dan Slott. That enthusiasm and heart is, coincidentally, exactly what I would like to see in my Spider-Man comics. We've been treated to some real gems from Slott and the issue of "Spider-Men" that also released this week has plenty of heart, but this book doesn't.
Returning from the globe-spanning conflict against Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man mopes around through much of this issue, at least through the parts where he isn't going psycho against his one-time confidante, Curt Connors, who is now locked into his Lizard persona completely. Slott paces a "Previously…" tale in between scenes from the here and now, depicting events that led to Spidey slogging through the sewers to crack heads with the Lizard. The story leading up to the scrap is more interesting than the scrap itself, although the last page reveal does offer hope for a fight between Spider-Man and the Lizard that will prove memorable.
The art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Klaus Janson and Frank D'Armata is a bit less memorable, however, as Peter Parker first appears to be blond when he greets the Horizon Labs' Zenith on the fifth page of this issue. Later on it appears as though Pete maybe had some reconstructive surgery that didn't quite take as his left eyebrow creeps down the inside of the bridge of his nose. Add in some supermodels that forgot to apply the "super" with their makeup and hairspray and this issue's art just covers the bases. There's nothing spectacular or amazing about it. It's simply another Spider-Man comic that has another artist's attempt to make the Lizard into a wildly dinosauriffic beastie. Yes, there are good spots in the art and Camuncoli's storytelling is strong, but the trio combined just doesn't add up to an art team I find particularly memorable. Maybe it's the inks, maybe it's the colors, and maybe it's the tight schedule, I don't know. Whatever the root cause, the end result is the same: this issue certainly could have looked better.
Marvel has gotten considerably more savvy about their comics offering up tie-ins and relevant parallels to the products based in other media bearing their brands, but this issue really doesn't do much to sell the Lizard to moviegoers considering a career change toward comic readers. It's quick-moving and packs a surprise ending, sure, but it lacks the enthusiasm and show-stopping art that gateway comic books need to showcase in order to entice new readers and turn them into fans. Maybe things will shape up a bit in the next issue, but by then we'll all have seen the Lizard onscreen and will be bringing an expanded set of expectations.