Um, SPOILERS. Obviously.
The Marvel Universe has a new Spider-Man, but writer Dan Slott and the folks at Marvel are promising even more Spidey surprises.As readers of Amazing Spider-Man found out today, Peter Parker had his mind forcibly swapped with Doctor Otto Octavius. And while Peter died, his body lives on, although with Doc Ock occupying his mind.
In an interview with Newsarama, Slott clarified how this change came about, and what happens next:
- Slott himself came up with the idea to have Peter Parker die after swapping brain waves with Doc Ock. He said it grew organically as he wrote his story about Doc Ock being close to dying.
- While Slott doesn't unequivocally squash the speculation that Peter Parker might return someday, he said Marvel's the cancellation of Amazing and launch of Superior indicates how serious Marvel is taking the change.
- Superior Spider-Man has a different style from the Slott-penned Spider-Man stories that fans have seen, pointing out his work on Arkham Asylum: Living Hell in particular.
- Issue #1 will not show Doc Ock starting completely from scratch as Spider-Man, because he has retained Peter Parker's memories.
- Readers who think this is a big twist for Spider-Man might want to brace for more. Slott said Superior Spider-Man #1 will show that he and Marvel have "another trick up [their] sleeve."
- The change starts right away in the Marvel Universe. Superior Spider-Man and Avenging Spider-Man will both feature Doc Ock within the mind of Spider-Man's body. Daredevil #22 and any other Marvel appearance of Spider-Man will be the new "Superior" version. Avengers will feature the new Spidey when its current story arc ends.
Want to know more? Read on. Newsarama talked to Slott to get the scoop on Spidey's new status.
Newsarama: Dan, this was something you cooked up, right? How long have you been playing with this idea?Dan Slott: I guess it all started back when we were having one of our Brand New Day meetings, back during that run of Spider-Man. One of the first things we were told when we took over the book was that we weren't allowed to use any of the Spider-Man rogues gallery. It was Steve Wacker and Tom Brevoort's feeling that all these guys had been beaten too many times and they'd lost some of their luster.
So the idea was to put them away, lock them in a box, let them marinate, and then whenever we bring them back, bring them back big — really up their game and give them makeovers and all new feels, but getting back to what they're about.
And when we were having one of these meetings, artist Phil Jimenez was there, and he was sketching ideas out of his head — ways to freshen up the looks of Spider-Man villains. He did this really creepy drawing of Doc Ock, where his body looked weaker and atrophied, and he had all these Octobots crawling all over him.
I took a look at that drawing and thought, OK, if that was Doc Ock, how did he get like that.
It just started one idea after another. Then when I got the chance to bring back Doc Ock in Spider-Man #600, just the idea that Doc Ock was dying and didn't have long to live sparked ideas.
The main plot I came up with was that, if his mind could talk to his arms through this interface, then what if he could reach out his mind to all machines? So it was all about Doc Ock sending his brain wave patterns into every machine in New York City.
So then, when I wrote the scene where Spider-Man puts on the exact same helmet that Doc Ock used to control all those machines, I was like... "Wait a minute! Spider-Man just put his brain wave patterns into Doc Ock's machines!"
That one idea sparked the other. If Doc Ock is slowly dying, what if his final gambit is to swap brain waves, and put Spider-Man into his dying, decaying body then put his own into Spider-Man, so he could in fact become Spider-Man?
If you look over the span of the run, we've had Spider-Man use that helmet multiple times, or the technology in it. And each time, whether he was aware of it or not, he was giving Doc Ock more access and information about Spidey's brain waves.
This wasn't something Doc Ock could do with anyone. He could only do it with Spider-Man because he had given him that opportunity.Nrama: With the first issue of Superior Spider-Man due out in just a couple weeks, you've obviously started writing Doc Ock in the costume at this point. What are the similarities and differences between the mindset of the two characters?
Slott: When you look at Peter Parker, and the kid he was before he got bit by that radioactive spider, he was an outcast, he was a nerd, he was resentful of all his peers. One of the first things he says is, "Someday, I'll show them all. They'll be sorry they laughed at me." That's one of the first things Peter Parker ever says, when you read Amazing Fantasy #15.
Peter Parker, at that point, is a guy who could have really easily become a supervillain. We're just all lucky he was raised by Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and even being raised by them, he still went on to become a complete jerk until the moment he learned that lesson of "great power" and "great responsibility."
And then you look at Doc Ock. He's the adult that Peter Parker would have become. He's this spectacled nerd. And his first appearance is him saying, "They're all just jealous of my genius." This is what Peter could have become. Doc Ock had an accident with a radioactive experiment, and he became the eight legged, super-powered being. He's almost a shadow version of Peter.
When we first meet Doctor Octopus in the comics, he's already an old guy. We've never seen Doc Ock as a young guy.
[Superior Spider-Man] is Doc Ock getting a second chance at life, and not just any kind of second chance: He gets to be this young, athletic, handsome superhero with a great job and respect, who is a member of the superhero community. He gets to be accepted in ways that Otto Octavius never was.
And in a weird way, the final gift that Peter Parker gives him is the lesson of great power and great responsibility.
So now he's been sent on the right path.
But we all know he is that arrogant, egotistical Doctor Otto Octavius. What's going to happen now?
He's going to try to be a superhero. He's going to try to take this new lease on life and use it for good. But he's Doc Ock, so of course he's going to do it through his own lens.
That's going to be an interesting journey.
To me, the fun of this is, for years, thanks to J. Jonah Jameson, everyone thought Spider-Man was a menace and the readers knew the whole story. The readers knew this was a good guy, this was a hero who's not getting any breaks. They were rooting for him.
Now we've flipped that. It's the Marvel Universe that doesn't have the whole story, and they think he's a hero. And it's the readers who are going, "No! No! No! No! He's a menace! I don't like him!" The readers have become J. Jonah Jameson.
To me, that's the greatest challenge of all. This character of Superior Spider-Man is the most "meta" Spider-Man you can get.
This Spider-Man is going to have to prove to the readers that he's a hero. That's an exciting journey.
Nrama: Will he have to start from square one? I mean, will Superior Spider-Man #1 have Doc Ock learning everything from scratch?Slott: Well, he's got all of Peter's memories, so he's not going to have to learn how to use the powers or release the web fluid. He's got all of Peter's memories. So it's quite a different journey.
There are things he's going to have to learn. But come on, does Doc Ock seem like a learner to you? Or someone who thinks he already has the answers?
Nrama: Doc Ock had a life before this. Will we see him walking away from it in favor of Peter's life? Or will we see him interacting with his former life and world?
Slott: Oh, you're going to see Doc Ock interacting with his old life. How can he not? He's friends with most of Spider-Man's rogues gallery! How is he going to fix them?
Nrama: He's also appearing in other comics. Are you working in conjunction with those writers? Are they going to use this new Spider-Man?
Slott: Anytime you see Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe, this is that Spider-Man. Superior Spider-Man is the Spider-Man who appears in Avenging Spider-Man, and is the Spider-Man who's appearing next month in Daredevil and Journey Into Mystery.
Once we get past the opening arc of Avengers, if you see Spider-Man in there, he's going to be the Superior Spider-Man.
Nrama: How will Avenging Spider-Man approach this in a different way from Superior Spider-Man
Slott: Our book is really going to focus on Spider-Man's world and Spider-Man villains and Spider-Man's supporting cast. You'll be in the world of Amazing Spider-Man but with the Superior Spider-Man.
Over in Chris [Yost]'s book, it's really going to take advantage of the Marvel team-up of it. Now you'll get to see how the Marvel Universe reacts to this Spider-Man. How do the X-Men react to the Superior Spider-Man? How does the Mighty Thor react to the Superior Spider-Man. What's going to happen when he runs afoul of all these major characters of the Marvel Universe?
Nrama: It's actually very fun to think about how this character will work with all these other heroes, but as a comic fan yourself, I'm sure you recognize why it's upsetting that Peter Parker is gone and Doc Ock is in his body.Slott: Upsetting? Why? Why would fans possibly be upset? You make it sound like I took some character that was in the Macy Thanksgiving Parade and popped their balloon, some character that people have grown up with for 50 years of their life, people raised in Spider-Man onesies, and you make it sound like I destroyed that.
Nrama: [Laughs.] You did!
Slott: I did? Noooo!!!
Nrama: OK, I get the humor, Dan. But there are also fans who are saying this isn't permanent. We've seen mind-swaps and people with leftover memories or personalities before in comics, like Rogue and Carol Danvers. Most people think it's only a matter of time before Peter comes back, so was the mindswap technique used to leave that door more easily opened?
Slott: I love that response. I love that immediate response of "this won't last." To me, that's the same kind of mindset that says, "Oh, well, Mr. Freeze trapped Batman in a snowcone machine, but he'll get out next week." When I think of the number of times I've put Spider-Man in, like, a death trap or a terrible situation, and readers immediately go, "Well, come on, the book's called Amazing Spider-Man. What? They're not going to publish it next month? Of course he'll get out."
And it only took us to go, "Hey, guess what? We're canceling Spider-Man at #700" to make people realize this is real.
It's like people freaking out that Wally West was The Flash. "There's only one Flash! It's Barry Allen!" Or before that, when they said, "Barry Allen isn't the Flash! It's Jay Garrick!"
I know every single person has done that for The Flash at some point.
Nrama: You mentioned that the book is relaunching, and that indicates this isn't just a one storyline change. But it also indicates Marvel is 100 percent behind this change. Was that always the case? You said the idea was brewing in your head for awhile. Was everyone else at Marvel always as gung ho as they currently seem to be?
Slott: No. Three retreats ago, I gave the room the basic idea. People were like, "Do I have to use that Spider-Man? Can't I just write my stories from before that happened?" And then Axel Alonso told everyone, "You have to use that Spider-Man. He's the new Spider-Man."
So that happened at the first retreat.
In the second retreat, when I mapped out where everything was going for our first year, people were really into it. They were asking questions here and there, but it turned everyone completely around, once they heard where we were going and all the opportunities that were going to pop up in the books.
This is a significant change, so it's really neat that everyone's gotten behind it.Nrama: For you as a writer, has it really challenged you? We're obviously very used to what a Dan Slott Spider-Man story feels like. Is Superior Spider-Man still going to be the Dan Slott type of Spider-Man story? Or has it taken a darker turn?
Slott: When we were all planning Marvel NOW!, and it was the big game of musical chairs, there was that whole sense of, "Oh, and you can write this comic, and you can write that comic! We'll all change it up!"
And then they were like, "Dan, what do you want to be on?" And I'm like, "Spider-Man." I was the one stick in the mud.
But everyone was awesome about it. Everyone let me stay there. They moved everything else but me.
Look, we had this thing in the works for a long time. You're about to get a massive shake-up within the zone of when Marvel Now! is happening.
And trust me, you're getting a new writer.
His name also happens to be Dan Slott. But he's the guy who wrote Arkham Asylum: Living Hell.
So yeah, on some level, I get to get my brain swapped too.Nrama: Do you get the sense that it's going to be tough to sell this to readers, though? I assume you're working really hard on that first issue of Superior Spider-Man to make sure you lay out what your hopes and plans are for this character and this book.
Slott: You know, we have done more than show people what this book is going to be about, what Otto's path is going to be like. We've done more than that.
In the first issue, there is another trick up our sleeve. You're just going to have to wait and read Superior #1. I am so not worried about anyone who says, "700 is my jumping off point!" I'm not worried, because I know that when word gets out and they hear what happens in Superior #1, they're definitely going to want to pick it up.More Marvel NOW! from Newsarama:
- Best Shots Extra: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700- 10 out of 10
- Marvel NOW! Takes Place WHEN? Continuity Takes a Beating
- 10 Things We LIKE About MARVEL NOW! (So Far)