Slott Debuts SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN and Revives Norman Osborn

***SPOILERS below! Avoiding details of last week's Amazing Spider-Man #698, and the future of Spidey in general? Then this might not be the article for you.***

 

After nearly 50 years, Amazing Spider-Man is ending in late December with issue #700. And yes: It'll probably be back someday. But in the meantime, a new series, Superior Spider-Man, is set to debut in January, and it's already been established that the titular Spidey in that book will not be Peter Parker.

Who it will be remains to be seen, though in last week's Amazing Spider-Man #698, it was revealed that Doctor Octopus has somehow switched consciousnesses with Peter Parker, meaning that he's in Spider-Man healthy and powerful body, and Peter is trapped in Doc Ock's body, which has been uncomfortably close to death for a while now. But there are a lot of twists promised between now and Superior Spider-Man #1, making it unclear if Otto Octavius is involved in that series at all.

One villain that does figure into Amazing and Superior writer Dan Slott's long-term plans is Norman Osborn, who apparently woke up from his coma (and escaped from the hospital) in this month's Amazing Spider-Man #697. In the second part of our latest interview with Slott (the first part, discussing the finer details of #698, is here), we pressed the writer for details on Superior Spider-Man, the return of Norman Osborn, and working with artists Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos and Giuseppe Camuncoli.

 

Newsarama: Dan, let's talk to whatever extent we can about Superior Spider-Man, and that tweet to Ryan Stegman about Miguel O'Hara that caused a good deal of discussion on whether it was an actual mistake or an intentional misdirection. Based on your comments, can we assume the latter?

Dan Slott: I think it was either a horrible mistake, or a terrible red herring. [Laughs.]

But you have to admit, Albert, if someone were to put up that tweet, at say, midnight on a weekend, leave it up for two minutes, and delete it, knowing that out of their followers, someone would take a screencap of it — that person would have to be an evil genius. An evil genius full of bravado. [Laughs.] And modesty.

Nrama: Noted. So have you enjoyed reading the various theories on who Superior Spider-Man might be, Miguel O'Hara or otherwise?

 

Slott: Yes. I like the theories that use characters that we've never shown through the entire "Big Time" run. Those are my favorites. Because I would so do that — I would totally use a character that we've done no set-up with whatsoever. That would so be in my wheelhouse!

The same kind of person who would post that — "It should really be this guy, from issue #327, that we haven't seen in five years!" — is the same kind of person, in a parallel universe, that if I did use that character, would be the first to post, "Lame!"

Nrama: So it's not F.A.C.A.D.E.

Slott: I think it'll be the original White Tiger, who Bendis killed off in Daredevil.

 

Nrama: To risk bringing up something you might also "no comment," an issue ago, in Amazing Spider-Man #697, we saw what appeared to be Norman Osborn coming out of his coma and escaping…

Slott: We saw an empty room. No guards, no escorts, no anything. Just a big, empty room. Curtains fluttering in the breeze.

Nrama: Though it appears that there's a lot going on already with Doc Ock and beyond, can readers expect some follow-up to that in the near-ish future?

Slott: Every time I've gotten a chance to play with Norman Osborn, he's been under someone else's purview. Either while Warren was doing Thunderbolts, or while Brian was doing Dark Avengers. Someone else had ownership of that character, and because of that, I was limited with what I could do with him. I couldn't do anything that would mess up someone's plans.

 

If you're a Spider-Man writer, and Norman Osborn's alive, who wouldn't want to play with the Green Goblin? When Brian last left the character, he was in a coma, which is a great place to leave a character, because any writer can go, "And then he wakes up." Not kidding. A coma is a great place to leave a character. It sounds horrible in the real world, but in the world of comics, it's a very polite thing to do.  I'm dying to do some Norman Osborn stuff.

Nrama: It's clear that in recent years, Norman has become more of an Avengers villain, or a Marvel Universe as a whole villain, so it's certainly exciting  for Spider-Man fans to hear that he might be back to being a more specifically Spidey antagonist, and feels like something we haven't seen in a while.

Slott: There are certain characters that just kind of grow, and change, and move on. The Kingpin was a Spider-Man villain, and over the years, he became the quintessential Daredevil villain, because so many people have done so many good stories with him over in Daredevil, and that's where it kind of feels he belongs — and we've kind of stolen him back.

The same thing with Norman: With Warren using him on Thunderbolts, with all the insane amount of work Brian did with him over in Avengers and New Avengers and Dark Avengers, and all the different big Marvel crossovers, he really has been elevated. On the flipside, over in the Spider-Man world, it meant that suddenly Doc Ock became the No. 1 villain. Which is great for me, because I love Doc Ock.

There's that feeling of, "Whoa, we're free and clear on the Norman Osborn side," but you want to have some space. After Brian does this seminal return of Norman story in Avengers with the Super-Adaptoid twists, you don't want to immediately go, "And now he's over in Spider-Man, next month." You want to give it some time to breathe. But I have every intention in the world of using Norman Osborn fiendishly.

 

Nrama: You brought up Doc Ock taking Green Goblin's place as Spider-Man's greatest enemy — it's interesting, because for a lot of comic book readers, like myself, Norman Osborn was dead when they started reading Spider-Man, so we always kind of saw Doc Ock was the #1 Spidey villain. At this point, you've put a lot of work into Doc Ock — do you think he's past Norman for that title? Or will the Green Goblin always have that spot, if for nothing else than killing Gwen Stacy?

Slott: I think it's different for every single reader. There are a lot of people that, in their minds, the greatest villain is Kraven — the guy who shot Spider-Man, and buried him underground.

Part of me is sincerely hoping that with the "Dying Wish" arc ; #698, #698 and #700; especially for a young reader right now — who is sitting at home screaming, repeatedly, "fix it!" — that this, for them, will be their boogeyman under the bed, for Spider-Man. Doc Ock is it, man. Doc Ock is the guy who brought his A Game and brought everything to a head in Amazing Spider-Man #700. He's that villain. And then Amazing goes away.

 

Nrama: So though much of Superior Spider-Man remains a secret, we do know the art team — Ryan Stegman is on the first arc, but Humberto Ramos is still in the mix as well, correct?

Slott: Amazing Spider-Man #700 is going to be such a jewel in the crown for Humberto Ramos. There are pages in this that I look at and go, "These are my favorite Humberto Ramos pages of all time."

Humberto is the hero of "Spider-Island." Humberto is the guy who chained himself to the desk, and did a page a day, a page a day, a page a day. We had oversized issues, we had pages where it'd be like, five-panel, six-panel pages, and every panel asked for there to be like 40 characters in them, and he just did it. He just sat down, at his desk, and he put a day's worth of work into every single page, and turned a page in every single day. He took one day off the entire run of "Spider-Island." One day. He got the whole thing done, with style.

Between issues #699 and #700, the man has drawn 72 pages of gorgeous artwork. And yep, he's with us. No one is taking Humberto Ramos away from me. I will cut them. This man is the engine. We could not drive this car without Humberto Ramos.

 

Ryan Stegman's going to blow people away. And we have Giuseppe Camuncoli, who kicks so much ass, it's not even funny. We have the best art team in comics. I am so damn proud to be with all of them. These guys are going to take over the world and own Superior Spider-Man.

Nrama: Another thing about Superior Spider-Man that has been confirmed is that Peter Parker will not be Spider-Man, though I'd contend that could be interpreted in a number of ways.

Slott: I'm sure it could.

Nrama: It's noteworthy because obviously, in the traditional Marvel Universe, Spider-Man is not a legacy hero, like the Flash.

Slott: Like Miguel O'Hara?

Superior Spider-Man

#3 cover.

Nrama: Well, that's still 86 years away. So it seems clear that you are taking Peter Parker out of the equation to some degree, even if the degree isn't clear. What led you in that direction? Was it wanting to explore and redefine what "Spider-Man" means, or is just the natural extension of the story you're telling?

Slott: The first thing I wanted to do was to take everyone's hopes and dreams, and shove them into a Cuisinart, and just hold my finger down on puree. Sure, I've loved this character since I was 8-years-old. Sure, I've dreamed my entire life to be able to work on Spider-Man. But I thought, "You know? Screw that. I'll destroy it utterly." [Laughs.]

I think anyone who reads issue #700, though it is an immense tale of triumph and tragedy in the Mighty Marvel Manner, I think you'll realize when you're reading it that you are reading a love letter to 50 years of Spider-Man, written by someone who is a true red-and-blue Spider-Man fan. But part of Spider-Man is that tragedy. Part of Spider-Man is the loss, when you think back to all the classic Spider-Man stories, the ones that have moved us the most.

Nrama: Dating back to his origin, of course.

Slott: Yeah. There's a price.

 

That said, I'm not going to elaborate on it anymore, but I very much love Spider-Man's world, and Spider-Man's characters. By having a new Spider-Man, we're going to be able to see that world in a new way, and see these characters in a new way, and we're going to get to explore all new kinds of stories that will come from this.

I've joked that when #700 comes out, I'm going to hide in the bunker. But the flipside of that is, I know I'm going to emerge from the bunker as soon as everyone's read Superior Spider-Man #1.

Nrama: Then it'll be safe?

Slott: No, not quite safe. But, people will go, "Oh. Ohhhh. OH!"

But yeah, people are going to be plenty mad. [Laughs.]

Nrama: You note the price that Spider-Man has to pay and the sacrifice that comes with it —that seems to be a running theme throughout your "Big Time" run, with Marla Jameson's death, leading to Spider-Man vowing "no one dies," which he was not able to really maintain.

 

Slott: Aww, poor Silver Sable. And oh my god, what a jerk Madame Web is! "No, they're alive." "Really?" Pause. "… yeah. Sure, they're alive."

Nrama: How deliberate has the exploration of that theme been? It feels like it's been a big part of what you've been doing.

Slott: It has. But one of the nice things was, usually the price of being Spider-Man always seemed to literally revolve around money. It used to be, "I can't pay my rent, no!" "Aunt May has to pay the doctor this much for her operation!" "I need to get enough money to fly to Florida to fight the Lizard, how can I possibly earn it in time?" Everything was like that. By giving him this dream job, and marrying off Aunt May to someone incredibly wealthy, that went away. It allowed us to focus on other elements.

Even though things have been going pretty good, he's always going to have the Parker luck. That's part of the magic that Stan, and Steve, and John gave us with Spider-Man. That's part of the fuel that makes this thing run, that soap opera. And that's always going to be a part of Spider-Man — no matter who Spider-Man is.

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