Superior Spider-Man is currently facing off against Hobgoblin, but coming up in next month’s Superior Spider-Man #17 he’s facing off against a new kind of adversary: Spider-Man 2099.
But this isn’t the Spider-Man Miguel O’Hara remembers from stories or his own brief crossover with the modern-day back in the mid-90s. This is Doc Ock Spider-Man.
Since the mind-bending twist in last year’s Amazing Spider-Man #700 that saw Peter Parker die and Doctor Octopus take his place – literally – inside Spider-Man’s body, the flagship Spider-Man book has been one of the most gripping and unpredictable rides in superhero comics. And in the eight months and 15 issues since then, Slott has shown Otto Octaviusseemingly rehabilitated from his villainous ways – but using his all-too-familiar tactics from his dark days but in a new mission: being a hero.
Newsarama spoke with Slott by phone late last week about the impending return of Spider-man 2099 to the pages of Marvel Comics and the modern day, as well as talking about the tactics Doc Ock as Spider-Man is employing in the series, and finally talking about the twisting, winding road his Spider-Man run has developed into.
Newsarama: In September’s #17, you are bringing the long-overdue Spider-Man 2099 into the modern age. We’ve seen hints for this as far back as “Big Time,” but what made Miguel end up on your list of characters you’d like to re-introduce in your Spidey run to begin with?
Dan Slott: I’m trying not to give things away, but I will say this: back in 1992 when the Marvel 2099 line was being launched, I was working there on staff in art returns as well as writing Ren & Stimpy, Marvel Comics Presents and stuff like that. This was very early on in the development of Marvel 2099, back when they were going to call it ‘2092’ and have the number change with every year to be 2093, 2094, etc. Wiser heads found that confusing, and they went with just Marvel 2099.
Anyway, the idea of a futuristic Spider-Man sounded cool. At one point I even sold an inventory story for Spider-Man 2099 but it never ran. I still have the art from when I made the pitch for it. So Spider-Man 2099 has always been a character I’ve wanted to work on. Eventually I got to write him for the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game, and now I get to do that in the comics. That, as they say in 2099, is “jagged.”
Nrama: Why did the idea of a future version of Marvel’s wall-crawler grab you so much?
Slott: Come on, it’s Spider-man in the future. There’s nothing not cool about that sentence. It’s awesome, and from the moment Peter David started writing him, it was one of the coolest books on the stands.
Nrama: As I said, you’ve been teasing Spider-Man 2099 showing up as far back as the “Big Time” arc. Has this entry point for Spider-Man 2099 against Otto-as-Spider-Man, been the plan from the get-go, or has it changed over time?
Slott: You will see pretty quickly, in the next issues of Superior Spider-Man, that we’ve been seeding this story for quite some time. It was always going to come to this – we’d hit this part where the thing that happens, happens. Something big is about to take place in Spider-Man’s world during this three-part story-arc. Just you wait.
Nrama: Skipping from the behind the scenes story to the story itself, can you tell us how Spider-Man 2099 is making his way to 2013 and where his head is at?
Slott: After the events of Age Of Ultron, the whole Marvel timeline has become completely messed up. Time itself is broken in the Marvel U, and we’re seeing it happen in All-New X-Men, over in the Hulk book as he becomes Hulk: Agent of T.I.M.E., as well as other places in the Marvel U. Marvel’s had so many time travelers throughout its history, and all the paradoxes in Age of Ultron served as the final straw and—bam-- shattered the time stream.
Nrama: Coming from the future, Miguel’s no doubt informed somewhat on the events of 2013 – albeit only what’s written about in the history books. What does he know?
Slott: Miguel has come to our modern time before and had an adventure with Peter, way back in 1995’s Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man. So from Miguel’s point-of-view, this is a team-up he’s already had. He has no idea that it’s a different mind under the mask.
As for historical memory of today’s events, if you’re someone from the year 2099 most knowledge about our time period is lost to them. This era, what they call ‘The Heroic Age,’ is a blur– they’re not quite sure of certain events. There are so many gaps in data between the modern day and 2099 that the information they do have is mostly wrong and garbled.
Nrama: From a Marvel staffer during the creation of Marvel 2099 to writing the video game and now bringing him back, seeing you with Spider-Man 2099 is a bit of a full circle journey. What’s it like, 21 years later, bringing back this character you love in such a big way?
Slott: It’s fun. Peter David created a fantastic character in Miguel O’Hara. I’m having a great time working on this. And Ryan Stegman is doing amazing art for this arc.
Nrama: I know you can’t reveal too much, but answer me this: could you see a bigger role for Spider-Man 2099 in the Marvel U moving forward?
Slott: You will have to keep reading.
Nrama: Spider-Man 2099 is stealing the spotlight a bit here in #17, but we also have the promise of the return of another familiar name: Osborn. I know you love your secrets and your big reveals, but what can you say about this?
Slott: You will see an Osborn you haven’t seen for a while in the pages of Spider-Man. What does that mean? We’ve kept Norman off panel for a while, and the last time we’ve seen Harry he looked like Heisenberg from Breaking Bad. And there are other Osborns we’ve seen in the past too.
Nrama: Dan, you’re now several months removed from the publication of Amazing Spider-Man #700 and the ensuring fan reaction, and then the subsequent reaction to Superior Spider-Man #9. With some space, how do you feel about the immediate reaction then and how fans are now with the epic changes you’ve done to Peter and Otto?
Slott: I think the fun thing I’m seeing with the fans, like when I do conventions and signings, is that there are two comments everyone makes, over and over again. One: When is Peter coming back? And the second is that this is the storyline that’s brought them back to the Spider-Man books. No other comments even come close, I hear those two over and over.
So there seems to be this kind of feeling about the book, that it’s either something you love, you hate, or you love to hate. People ask us things like “Doctor Octopus is such a jerk; who am I supposed to be rooting for in this comic?” That’s a fun question, who are you rooting for? Sometimes you feel bad for the bad guys. We live in a day and age where there are popular TV series based on characters like Don Draper, Walter White, or even a egotistical jerks like Community’s Jeff Winger. It starts off you don’t like the guy and what he’s doing, but you keep watching to see what he’s going to do next.
Another thing I hear a lot is that while readers know what Peter would do in any given situation, they have no clue what Doc Ock would do. Especially with a 50+-year-old franchise like Spider-Man, the fact that you don’t know what he’s going to do next is a rare and cool thing.
Nrama: You’ve really thrust Otto Octavius in a bold new direction, and I’d say giving the character a story of his own in a way most “villains” don’t get – thrust into the role of hero.
Slott: Otto’s really trying his best to be a hero, but doing it in his own maniacal way. He’s fighting crime, saving people, taking out bad guys, and trying to make the world a better place. He understands that’s the lesson Peter left him with – that with great power comes great responsibility – but Otto’s interpreting that mantra in a completely different way.
Nrama: Has your thoughts on Otto changed by writing this and exploring how he’d react inside Peter’s body?
Slott: Well, when Peter was in the book you always looked at him as the hero, even as a ghost, next to Otto. Now that Peter’s gone, it allows Doc to be his own person. Look at the recent issues where he’s using all of his super villain strategies but in a heroic way. He’s got his giant robots and henchmen, but he’s taking out the Kingpin. He’s got his super villain base, but he does heroic things from it. Other hero groups have bases like the Baxter Building, Avengers Tower and the like, but have we seen a solo here with a base in the Marvel universe?
And now he’s got his four mechanical arms again, but it looks more like the Iron Spider arms. He’s Doc Ock-ing now, but doing it in a very Spider-Mannish way.
Nrama: Before we let you go, can you give us any hints or clues as to what’s coming down the pike for Superior Spider-Man? Even if just a morsel?
Slott: Yes! I can’t be too specific, but I will say something big is happening soon that changes the landscape of Spider-Man. My run on Amazing Spider-Man and now Superior Spider-Man has been about taking this one step at a time, with every step following and building upon what came before – not change for the sake of change. Progression. And what happens in Superior Spider-Man #15-17 will alter Spidey’s world in a very tangible way. The next big change in his life is going to lead us somewhere that we’ve never seen before in a Spider-Man comic.
It’s weird, so many fans say they want change and they want things to happen, but there’s a big outcry when that change actually occurs, when that security blanket is pulled out from under them. I haven’t seen anyone even predict this yet. And let me tell you, that’s kind of exciting. Trust me. You don’t know what’s coming next.