Dan Slott is promising big things are coming to Superior Spider-Man. And given the past few months, fans should probably pay attention.
Last winter, he closed out the Amazing Spider-Man era (for now) with #700, that saw a brain-swapped Peter Parker and Doctor Octopus fight until the latter's body died, which meant that Peter Parker's consciousness died along with it. Or so it seemed. A few weeks later, Superior Spider-Man #1 revealed that a shred of Peter Parker was still left inside his body, and though Doc Ock's mind is in the driver's seat, Peter is slowing exerting more and more control.
Yet where that goes from here remains to be seen, as Marvel and Slott are promising another gamechanger in May's issue #9, illustrated by initial Superior artist Ryan Stegman. We talked to the writer about that, the even further future, the Green Goblin, Spider-Man 2099 and the entire Superior Spider-Man experience, in-person at WonderCon this past weekend in Anaheim, Calif. Courtesy of Marvel, we're also debuting the Ryan Stegman-illustrated variant cover to Superior Spider-Man #9, seen above.
Newsarama: Dan, we haven't talked since Amazing Spider-Man #698 came out, and it's certainly been an eventful period of you. Would you see the Amazing Spider-Man #700/Superior Spider-Man era has been pretty much the most noteworthy period of your career?Superior Spider-Man
#10 cover.Dan Slott: This has been crazy. It's been very, very crazy. There have been no dull moments. It's all been extreme highs and lows. There is no middle ground. And that's an interesting time to be alive.
Nrama: There were a considerable amount of people that were upset about what went down with #700, and you expected it. You also said way back when that once those same people saw #1 — and now it's obvious what you meant — that they would start backing off a little. Has that happened?
Slott: Yeah. It totally happened. It was a massive shift from the moment people saw the last page of Superior #1, everyone calmed way the hell down. And then a couple issues into Superior, we started getting the apologists. The people who would reach out and go, "I'm so sorry I freaked out. I'm really liking what you're doing." Every issue, more and more of the apologists show up. "I was wrong," or, "I'm still mad about what happened in #700, but I'm really loving Superior." It's crazy. Everyone's been very positive about Superior.
Nrama: You've been writing Spider-Man regularly since 2008, and in that time there have obviously been eventful stories, big character deaths and major twists, but nothing like this. After writing some many stories of classic Peter Parker, to get to totally change the game — was that part of the motivation? To do something totally different? Or was it just the story you wanted to tell?Superior Spider-Man
#11 cover.Slott: Honestly, it was the story I wanted to tell. It started in Amazing Spider-Man #600. I work Marvel style. Most of the time, I lay out all the action, and then when I get the art in, I script it. It's kind of like a second chance to look at the story, and tighten things if things are going off the rails — when I was scripting it, and looking at it for a second time, I'm like, "Wow, Spider-Man is putting on this helmet that is putting all of his brain patterns into Doc Ock's machine. That's a really stupid move. Why the hell are you doing that, Spider-Man?" Then I went, "Wait a minute, if I'm Doc Ock…" And then everything started falling into place. Doc Ock is dying, and suddenly here's Spider-Man's brain patterns in a machine. "He could swap brains, right before he dies!" I didn't really tell anyone we were mapping out the thing that eventually became "Spider-Island."
"Spider-Island" came about because they needed an event at that point in the schedule, and the closest thing we had to an event was "Ends of the Earth." They were going to rip out all of the stories in between "Ends of the Earth," and just shove it up there. I was like, "No!" That's months and months and months of stories that would just go away. They didn't want to put "Ends of the Earth" there, because they're like, "How do we sell it? It's Doc Ock taking over the world." The villain takes over the world. "Oh, we haven't seen that before." I didn't want to do it because I had all these things I wanted to do. But we're all kind of grumpy, and we're all ending up on, "Well, this is what it's going to be." As we're leaving this meeting — it was in a diner, we're putting on our jackets — Tom Brevoort turns to me, "So this is it for Doc Ock? You're just going to leave him dying in a cell? His one great plan failed, and he's going to live out the rest of his life in a cell, and just die?"
sketch by Mike
Del Mundo.I'm like, "Oh no, that's not what's going to happen. I've got a Doc Ock story after that." "What's that?" "Oh, that's my #700. They're going to swap brains." "What?" "Yeah, right before Doc Ock dies, he swaps brains with Spider-Man, Spider-Man's got like four hours left to live in Doc Ock's dying body, and he has to try and get his body back." Brevoort goes, "That's our event." And Steve Wacker went, "Yep, I agree." I turned to Tom Brennan, who was the assistant editor then, "Brennan, help me out?" He's like, "No, I agree with them." Suddenly, even "Ends of the Earth" was going to get ripped out. We were going to jump straight to #700, around the #660s.
"Spider-Island" was a Hail Mary pass, because that was on a Friday. I called Steve at the end of the day — "Did you run this by marketing yet?" "No, I'm going to on Monday." I'm like, "If I can give you something as good as the brain swap, can I keep everything in place?" He's like, "Sure, we've got 'til Monday." And I spent all weekend pitching ideas with my best friend from high school. He threw something back to me when, "What if everyone in the world gets Spider-Man powers?" "Everyone in the world?" "Yeah, Spider-Man's about great power and great responsibility, what if everyone had great power?" I'm like, "Ah, they just did that with the Hulk… ooh, what if it's just Manhattan, because that's his world?" And all the characters you care about in Spider-Man are all in Manhattan; Jonah, and MJ — everything just all fit together. I pitched that on Monday, and Steve was like, "Yeah, that's good, let's do that." And that's how "Spider-Island" was born. It was a Hail Mary to save the brain swap.This is something I wanted to do for a hundred issues. And you can see in "Spider-Island," in "Ends of the Earth," in "No Turning Back," there are all these places where I seeded, knowing it's coming. There are things like Madame Web's prophecies that also get seeded. We laid the track for this for a hundred issues. This wasn't a last-minute decision. It wasn't "Oh, here's a gimmick, let's just throw it at Marvel NOW!. This was carefully planned for a hundred issues.
Nrama: The timing seemed very fortuitous, though, that it happened to coincide with Marvel NOW!.
Slott: The timing saved me. I would have been off this book, because I was able to pitch, "Well, you are getting a whole new Marvel NOW! era of Spider-Man, because this happens."
But also, since we didn't do "[New] 52," we didn't go, "Here's everything in one month;" it did give us a four or five, six month window. Luckily it was in there.
Nrama: With Superior Spider-Man, you're writing Doc Ock as a lead character for really the first time, and a more long-term Doc Ock story than has really been seen before. We're seeing the character put in very different situations, interacting with totally different characters. What kind of task has that been — approaching his mindset and his attitude in the position of a lead character?Superior Spider-Man
#12 cover.Slott: He's trying his best to be a hero, but he's doing it in a very Doc Ock way. And Doc Ock's an egotistical, annoying sh*t. It makes him an interesting character. At his core, he's someone we don't really think of heroic. But is he any more annoying than [former villain] Hawkeye used to be?
Also, when you look at Doc Ock, he was so much like Peter Parker. Peter Parker, if he didn't know the lessons of power and responsibility, that teenage nerd would have grown up to be an Otto Octavius nerd, with the same kind of, "I'm going to make them pay." This is the flip of that. This is Doc Ock getting to go back in time and be as young as Peter Parker, and have force-fed into him this sense of power and responsibility. He has that lesson from Uncle Ben in his core. That was Peter Parker's parting gift to the world — I'm not going to leave the world a villain, I'm going to leave them a hero. Doc never intended to be on this path, and in his own way he's very good at it. He's just doing it differently than Peter would.
Do you see Punisher as a hero? Do you see Wolverine as a hero? If these guys can be heroes, why can't Doc Ock? Here's someone as evil as Massacre — if Spider-Man had just captured him and webbed him up, he'd be out six months from now, doing this again. Yeah, sure he was helpless, and his wrist was snapped, and disarmed, but, "If I shoot him in the head, I've saved 30 people in the future." Doc Ock can look at it almost as a math equation, and be very happy with himself, and sleep well at night knowing what he did. For him, that's power and responsibility.Nrama: It might be too probably reading too much into it, but with the cutaway, and only Captain America out and out saying that Spidey killed Massacre, is he definitely dead, or is there some deliberate ambiguity there?
Slott: Massacre's dead. I think what people are reading as ambiguous is what we can show you in a Spider-Man comic. We can't show you brain matter shooting out of the back of a head.
Early on in "Big Time," there's this sequence where Montana falls to his death as the Fisk towers crumble. Editor Steve Wacker went to me, "Are we really killing Montana? This is a Lee/Ditko character." I'm like, "Uh, Terrible Tinkerer finds him, builds him a robot body, he's a robot cowboy now." "That's what happens?" Sure. Am I ever going to do that story? No. But someone could.
If someone did a story where Massacre came back, I wouldn't blink. The Hand found him, and did their Hand ritual on him! Now he's back! Who cares? But as long as I'm on the book, he got shot through the head.
Nrama: It's interesting that so far the story hasn't gone in either of the obvious directions — Ock secretly trying to take over the world, or a "hey, he's not so bad after all!" truly redemptive arc. Instead, it's somewhere in the middle.Superior Spider-Man
#8 cover.Slott: It could fall either way. We don't know what's going on. Wait until you see what's coming up, Albert!
Nrama: Issue #9 is what's been teased as being somewhat of a gamechanger
Slott: Yes. Something very big happens in issue #9. The biggest event to happen in the book to date.
Nrama: Which is a lot to promise, since it's been an eventful book.
Slott: Issue #2 he dumps Mary Jane, issue #5 he takes a life, issue #6 — [Screwball and Jester] were just being jerks! With Massacre we can look at it, and go, "He just saved a lot of lives."
Nrama: Screwball and Jester are a lot less of a clear and present danger.
Slott: Spider-Man gets to be Bugs Bunny. Doc Ock is Daffy Duck. It's like, he just went ballistic on you for just ticking him off, when he went against Bugs Bunnys. "Oh my god, this is not good." Maybe this guy shouldn't be running around as Spider-Man. And that's what the Avengers are asking now.Nrama: And that's in #7?
Slott: #7 and #8. As we teased, while Doc is sleeping, Peter is taking control of part of his body. He's making progress. Peter exerting control, Avengers taking notice, and the return of fun '90s villain Cardiac. So there's a lot of meat on the bone for Spidey fans of all sizes.
#9 is the gamechanger. Stegman is back for #9. #10 is all the fallout from the gamechanger — because there's going to be a lot of fallout. Then #11, #12 and #13 is me co-writing with Christos Gage, and it's a lot of chickens coming home to roost. All of these guys that Spider-Man has brutalized — Scorpion, Vulture, Boomerang — coming back with upgrades, and working as a team. And there's more to it than that. There's a major payoff all the way back to the early Big Time days.
Those three issues with Chris Gage will be with Giuseppe Camuncoli, and then issue #14 is a done-in-one, but it also launches a two-parter the next month. That done-in-one is, out of everything we've done so far, my biggest guilty pleasure comic. The whole time I was working on it, I was just smiling like an idiot. I was just giggling while I was writing it. I can't wait for people to see it. It's insane.
Nrama: Could you share any insight into how Norman Osborn might fit into all this?Superior Spider-Man
#9 cover.Slott: You mean the Green Goblin? We have not seen that that's Norman Osborn under that mask. There is a Green Goblin back. Is that Norman? We recently saw Harry in the book. We've recently seen other characters, too.
Nrama: And an empty hospital bed.
Slott: Empty hospital bed. Why weren't there any guards there? Norman Osborn? Guy who almost took over the world? What the what? Now the bed's missing? Huh? What? So stuff's happening with the Goblin, too.
Nrama: Wanted to ask about one more thing you've teased about in Superior — Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O'Hara?
Slott: Miguel O'Hara will be back. Soon.More from Newsarama:
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