***This article contains significant spoilers for Superior Spider-Man #9, on sale now.***
For months now, Marvel has been making it clear to fans that something big was going to happen in Superior Spider-Man #9. Back in February, when the company's May 2013 solicitations were released, the book was billed as containing a "turning point that will get you angrier than you were after Spidey #700!" Then in late March at WonderCon in Anaheim, series writer Dan Slott told us that the issue contained "the biggest event to happen" in the book thus far.
Given that the basic premise of the series — the mind of Doctor Octopus running around in Peter Parker's body, practicing a unique brand of supervillain-filtered heroism — represents a major Spidey status quo shift, fans speculated (or in some vocal cases, dreaded) what could be next. Following Doc Ock's discovery last issue of the shred of Peter Parker's consciousness that's been hanging around their shared body since Superior Spider-Man #1, mental warfare took place between the long-time enemies for control, with Otto Octavius evidently the victor, and apparently now fully in the Superior Spider-Man driver's seat, and any hope for Peter at least temporarily dashed. Like many eventful Spider-Man stories over the years, the issue (by Slott and artist Ryan Stegman) was met with both praise and criticism, as seen by anyone who follows Dan Slott on Twitter.
Newsarama talked with Marvel senior editor Stephen Wacker to get some perspective on the issue. Though he declined to comment on how Peter Parker's deletion might affect the C2E2-announced arrival of a truly heroic Spider-Man — Miguel O'Hara, Spider-Man 2099 — to the series with September's issue #17, he did say that readers shouldn't necessarily underestimate the heroism of OckSpidey (or as some prefer, "SpOck").
Newsarama: Steve, the solicitation for Superior Spider-Man #9 read that it will get fans "angrier than [they] were after Spidey #700." The comic has only been out for a couple of hours, but do you sense that's proved true so far?
Stephen Wacker: If the Spideyoffice@marvel.com email is any indication…then yes!
Nrama: Not searching to spoil anything coming up, but certainly the implication from the end of #9 is that going forward, we'll see an unencumbered Superior Spider-Man, with Doc Ock firmly in control — as it seemed we were getting, before the last-page reveal of Superior Spider-Man #1. How much does this shift the focus of the series going forward, given that much of the first nine issues were about Peter's (literally) internal struggle?
Wacker: We’ve had to give a certain amount of screen-time to Pete every issue, but that will no longer be the case.
Basically keeping Pete’s “spirit” has helped the medicine go down over the past few months of big changes, but now that Dan, Ryan, Humberto [Ramos] and [Giuseppe Camuncoli] have everyone hooked it’s time to bring the focus solely onto our main character: the all-new Superior Spider-Man.
Nrama: It's interesting that Peter is seemingly undone by the admission that he evidently neglected his own code of power and responsibility, in regards to the girl OckSpidey performed surgery on last issue. Is it possible that's a circumstance where Octavius genuinely has the moral high ground, or more of a testament to the desperate position Peter is/was in?
Wacker: I guess that will be up to each reader to interpret, but from my vantage point Peter Parker was interesting for 50 years because of the mistakes he made. He’s not stainless, he’s not perfect. There are plenty of examples over 700+ issues where his behavior was less than exemplary.
I hope readers are troubled by Pete’s actions. I know I was.
Nrama: Wanted to get your perspective, as editor, on Ryan Stegman's art in this issue. It can't be too easy for an artist to draw a story that takes place entirely on a mental battlefield — what made him the right fit for this?
Wacker: I purposefully wanted Ryan for #9 and #10 because I felt it was a payoff to what Dan set up in issue #1 and also the beginning of the next, new phase for Spidey. So we jiggered the schedule to make it all work.
Ryan’s work (along with mi amigo Edgar Delgado on color) is terrific this issue, and I think with each issue he’s getting more and more fans.