Building a case for the title of "busiest person in comic books," the latest announced addition to Matt Kindt's growing credits is Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, the first of three new miniseries — along with Marvel Knights: X-Men and Marvel Knights: Hulk — reviving the Marvel imprint known for left-of-center takes on the publisher's characters.
Made official earlier this week, Kindt is writing the five-issue, October-debuting series, with Swamp Thing's Marco Rudy illustrating. Marvel Knights: Spider-Man sees Arcade leading Spidey into a trap, prompting him to deal with even more villains — 99 in total, though Kindt is reluctant to give specifics as to which ones beyond Arcade at this point. (The cover to issue #1 may provide some clues.)
Kindt — who's also writing Infinity: The Hunt at Marvel, the Forever Evil tie-in issues of Justice League of America and Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. at DC, along with writing and illustrating his creator-owned title Mind MGMT at Dark Horse, plus more — talked to us in-depth about Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, and his take on the iconic character.
Newsarama: Matt, before we get into Marvel Knights: Spider-Man specifically, let's talk a bit about the history of the Marvel Knights imprint. It's got a pretty impressive legacy within Marvel — are any past Marvel Knights stories of special significance to you, and how does it feel to be contributing to its revival?
Matt Kindt: I think the Inhumans series was pretty awesome. I’ve always had a soft-spot for the Inhumans though — just love those characters and the idea of all that. I think that’s the main one. Since then it was mostly creative jealousy every time I saw a Black Widow series come out that I wasn’t getting a chance to write! (Mostly kidding.)
Nrama: The description of this make it sounds like something of a timeless story, and certainly removed from the current Superior Spider-Man status quo. What kind of freedom comes with that? What can you do that you might not be able to do in a more mainstream book?
Kindt: Yeah — I guess so, y’know. The biggest benefit is that I can just come up with a great Spider-Man story. Stay true to what’s essential about the character and tell a great story.
That’s one thing I’ve kind of missed with comics of late. Everything is really tied together into continuity and it feels like we’re not getting as many great blips on the radar — that are just great superhero stories using the core character that’s been around forever. So it’s nice to get a chance to do that and not have to worry if it fits into 50 years of continuity.
Nrama: One of the most distinctive aspects of the story is that it features 99 different Marvel villains functioning as collective antagonists. What was it like compiling that group? And will we get to see each one of them on panel at some point during the five issues?
Kindt: It was a real walk down memory lane for me. A lot of characters that I hadn’t even thought about for 20 years, y’know? It was really the most challenging part – making a list of every villain and then figuring out what made sense thematically for the story — it’s not just a bunch of villains dumped onto Spidey. I put specific villains together in each issue to fit the theme of that issue so I got to have fun with genre trappings and mixing and matching the characters.
The most amazing thing was how many really great villains there were for Spidey to face. He’s got to be one of the most unlucky heroes ever.
Nrama: Of those villains, it looks like Arcade is at the center of it, a villain that has gotten some fresh attention as a result of Avengers Arena. While he's been a bit comedic at times, he's been portrayed as much more deadly in recent appearances — where does your take fall on the spectrum?
Kindt: He’s definitely not the center of the story — but he shows up in the first issue to get things rolling. So I’ve got my own sort of weird take on him — but he doesn’t last long! There are 98 other villains we’ve got to get to! Which is the real secret of the series. The 99 villains are there to show us really what Peter Parker is all about.
Nrama: Well, we're talking about villains, but let's discuss Spider-Man himself. You wrote a version of Spidey — the Ultimate animated series version — in an Infinite comic last year, but how would you describe your approach to Spider-Man in this story?
Kindt: I can get a little more in depth with Pete with the series — it’s a little more serious even though he’s cracking-wise as usual...I really think there’s an underlying sadness to the character — so that’s kind of the undercurrent — there’s a ton of great action set pieces but it’s all narrated by Pete so we’ll see him sort of start to fall apart psychologically as the series progresses. A spider-sense is great for warning you of danger...but what if your spider-sense is buzzing non-stop for a week?
Nrama: It also seems that a big part of the fun of this story is setting, and taking the plot to various places around the Marvel Universe. How important is that aspect to the series? And what are some of the locales that readers will be seeing? (In however much detail you feel comfortable giving at this point.)
Kindt: Well – I really wanted to put some action scenes together with Spidey that we’ve never seen before. The great thing about a character that’s as old as Spidey is, is the history. But that’s also what makes it difficult. What can you do that hasn’t been done before? With character, sure — but also with action. So the first thing I did was take him out of Manhattan. He ends up in the jungle, on a submarine, a plane full of villains, and more!
Nrama: You're paired with artist Marco Rudy for this story — what can you about working with him, and what excites you about him bringing the story to visual life?
Kindt: He’s been taking my scripts and just spinning them into some crazy looking pieces of art. Honestly, each page of this book is one you’d want hanging on your wall. It looks that good.
Nrama: Do you see any similarities between Marvel Knights: Spider-Man and any of your past work — be it other superhero titles, or one of your creations, like Mind MGMT?
Kindt: I’m not really sure. I think what makes Mind MGMT successful is that it has characters with some crazy abilities — but I treat them like real people. So you can have some mind-bending abilities — which is cool — but what kind of person does that make you? How does that affect your personality?
So In a way, I’m just taking those principals and applying them to all the villains and Spidey too. Why are you the way you are? Is it because of your powers and abilities? Or are those powers an extension of who you are? And the answer to that is what makes a good story.