Army doctor Curt Connors loses his arm in combat so he dedicates his time studying cellular regeneration. His experiments with reptiles turn him into the Lizard, a reptilian monster with super-strength and enhanced senses.
A Limb Lost
Gifted surgeon and biologist Dr. Curtis “Curt” Connors goes to war when his country calls. He serves as a battlefield medic until his arm’s injured in an explosion and ultimately amputated. His surgical career comes to an abrupt end, so Curt returns to his Florida laboratory. Inspired by a reptile’s ability to regenerate lost limbs, he pursues a revolutionary study of reptilian molecular biology and DNA manipulation to replicate the process in humans. Curt creates then drinks his untested formula; within seconds, his lost arm miraculously regenerates.
Although the serum works as predicted, it’s more powerful than Curt had expected. The chemical mix transforms him into a human lizard. Overwhelmed by his new reptilian nature, he flees into the dense Florida swamps. From his jungle sanctuary, the Lizard builds an army of coldblooded creatures—aiming to destroy humankind. Rumors of a “giant lizard” soon spread, drawing the attention of New York’s Daily Bugle. Viewing the creature as a public menace, the Bugle’s Publisher John Jonah Jameson, AKA J. Jonah Jameson, brazenly challenges Spider-Man to face the Lizard.
As a photographer for the Bugle, Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, travels to Florida. Tracking down Curt’s wife, Martha, and young son, Billy, Spider-Man learns the truth. Using Curt’s lab notes and equipment, as well as his own scientific knowledge, he concocts an antidote. Battling the Lizard to a standstill, Spider-Man forces the creature to swallow the solution and revert to human form—minus his newly regenerated arm. Spider-Man’s aid earns him Curt’s undying gratitude, as well as the enmity of his reptilian alter ego.
Curt would soon have the opportunity to repay the favor. When Peter gives his ailing Aunt May a transfusion, his radioactive blood puts her in deadly peril. With doctors powerless, a desperate Spider-Man brings his friend a sample of May’s blood. Curt helps the hero develop a formula to save May’s life. However, Curt remains unaware of Spider-Man’s secret identity.
Shortly thereafter, Curt and Spider-Man again work jointly to create a solution that would soften Aleksei Sytsevich, AKA Rhino’s hide. Unfortunately, the chemicals in that solution cause Curt to revert to reptilian form once more. Knowing a cold-blooded creature cannot regulate its internal temperature, Spider-Man traps the Lizard in a refrigerated train carriage.
The Lizard possesses a number of superhuman powers endowed by his reptilian form, including the ability to regenerate missing limbs, release pheromones to produce violent behaviors in people, and superhuman strength, allowing him to lift 12 tons. His powerful leg muscles enable him to clear 12 feet in a standing high jump and 18 feet in a standing broad jump. His alligator-like hide is tougher than human skin and is capable of resisting the penetration of small-caliber bullets. His reaction time is about twice that of the normal human being and he can run at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.
The Lizard possesses a 6.5-foot tail that he can whip at speeds up to 70 miles per hour. Like a Gegku lizard, his hands and feet have retractable 1-inch hooks growing from the base of his palm and the ball of his foot. His fingers and toes are covered with scores of tiny claws to create adhesive pads. As a result, the Lizard can support his weight climbing up and down normally intractable surfaces.
When the Lizard emerges, the R-complex of Connors’ brain (the most primitive region of the human brain containing the most bestial drives) takes over the cerebellum, causing Connors’ mind to become progressively inhuman. The Lizard gains a quasi-telepathic ability to communicate with and command all reptiles within about a one-mile radius of himself.
In his human form, Dr. Curtis Connors is a brilliant biologist and biochemist, and is a leading herpetologist—a scientist who studies reptiles.
Internal and External Foes
Connors faces many foes, but his greatest struggle is internal against the uncontrollable, violent Lizard that’s part of him. Eventually Connors retains his consciousness while he’s the Lizard but not trusting himself, creates an inhibitor chip to control his transformations.
Occasionally, Connors gets captured by Sergei Kravinoff, AKA Kraven the Hunter, during his great hunt, and others attempt to control him, like Dr. Vincent Stegron, AKA Stegron, and Calypso. He also battles Edward Whelan, AKA Vermin.
His research into reptilian regeneration sometimes helps transform others into monstrous beasts like the drug-addicted Freak and a young disabled student Melati Kusama, AKA Komodo, who both steal the Lizard formula. Komodo, however, retains her consciousness in Lizard form, so despite her theft, Connors recommends her to join the Initiative.
When he loses control as the Lizard, he battles Spider-Man, but often the wall-crawler brings him back to himself and together they work towards curing Connors of his Lizard problem.