When the Superior Spider-Man series kicked off last year, it followed a surprise that had everyone talking — Doc Ock killed Peter Parker and took over his body.
But according to series writer Dan Slott, it's time for a few more major developments for Spidey, beginning with a major cliffhanger in this week's issue #19 and culminating in this winter's "Goblin Nation" arc, as Doc Ock Spider-Man and Green Goblin go to war.
Marvel will give the series a new #1 in February with Superior Spider-Man #27.NOW to kick off "Goblin Nation," which Slott is creating with artist Giuseppe Camunicoli.
In the story, Spider-Man will go up against the mysterious new Green Goblin and the army he's been building. That means it's technically a match between two of Spider-Man's greatest foes — Doc Ock and Green Goblin — although Slott hasn't revealed who is under the Green Goblin mask, whether it's Norman Osborn or someone else.
Slott said Marvel has been billing "Goblin Nation" as the "end," but the writer asks, "What is it the end of?"
Newsarama talked to the writer to find out more about "Goblin Nation," as well as the upcoming Venom arc, with Slott clearly implying that the Venom character might not survive the story.
Newsarama: Dan, what does it mean for Superior Spider-Man that Marvel is teasing the "rise of Goblin Nation?"
Dan Slott: Everything we've seen out of Octavius — the Superior Spider-Man, all the threats he's gone up against, we've seen him face off against Cardiac, against Screwball, against Vulture. We've seen him go up against a certain level of Spider-Man threats, and always bubbling in the background is the Green Goblin.
We really haven't seen the Green Goblin take a prominent role in the Spider-Man universe for awhile.
Think of everything that the Green Goblin has done in the world of Spider-Man, and think of everything that Doc Ock has done — Doc Ock is the guy who killed Peter Parker! You don't get better ranking points on villainy than that.
So you have two of Spider-Man's greatest foes — the two greatest foes — heading toward a collision.
This is the pay-off.
Nrama: It's tough to imagine this showdown, because as you said, it's not Peter Parker going up against Green Goblin — it's Octavius Spider-Man.
This is his greatest challenge to date. While he's been fighting all the crime in New York, we've already seen that — whether he meant to or not, unintentionally — he's helped the Green Goblin become the Goblin kingpin of all New York. He helped the Goblin rise to power.
This is the culmination of that.
If you look at everything in the Spider-Man run so far, it has all been setting up dominoes.
"Goblin Nation" is when we knock them all down.
Nrama: What's the meaning behind the title being "Nation?" Is this a Goblin army?
Slott: Yeah. There is a Goblin army, running through the Goblin underground. This is where Green Goblin and Superior Spider-Man go to war!
This is a crescendo. Marvel's been billing this as "the end." But what is this the end of?
Nrama: "Goblin Nation" starts in February. Do you want to tease anything that comes between now and when that storyline kicks off next year? You've been saying something on Twitter about one issue in particular...
Slott: Yes! Something very major is going to happen in the last chapter of the "Spider-Man 2099" arc. Something very major is going to happen.
There's also going to be something that happens that is going to raise a lot of questions.
Everyone's going to go, "Wait a minute!! Wait wait wait wait — what just happened here?"
And at least one of two sequences, there's going to be people going, "Wait wait wait wait wait! They… what? Did they just…. hey!!"
So there are going to be many questions.
And those will be answered in Superior Spider-Man #26. They're going to be floating out there.
Nrama: And #27 starts the "Goblin Nation" storyline.
Slott: Yes. So watch out for issue #19. There's a very major moment that happens in #19, which will immediately have a major effect on Spider-Man's world. And then once we hit #20 and #21, which is a two-parter with Black Cat and Stunner, there's no other way to say it…. in 2014, there's going to be all this craziness happening, and people are going to be like, "Where did that start?" And I'll be like… #20 and #21.
When we had our big issue, #698, where we revealed the secret twist of the brain swap? That freaked everybody out. It was a big twist. And I was telling people, "You need #698! Because something's going to happen in it!"
Well, Superior #20 and #21, I wouldn't say it's a big "twist"… I would say, every couple of pages, there is a major, new development. Every couple pages of #20 — bam! — something happens. I can't say any more about that issue, because part of the fun for me is sitting back and twirling my mustache. Everyone is going to hit these moments in issue #20 and go, "Noooooo!!"
A lot of it comes from the fallout of [Superior Spider-Man] #19. But there are major developments that happen in #20 that will set the stage for a lot of what we're doing not only in 2014, but honestly, it's setting the stage for things that will affect the world of Spider-Man for years to come.
Nrama: Doesn't Superior Spider-Man #19 and #20 both come out this month, don't they? Both issues come out in October?
Slott: Yes! And that will finish up the "2099" arc. Everyone has seen Ryan Stegman do the "2099" arc gorgeously. And after #20 and #21 — the big, you know, "wha….??" issues — we're going into "Darkest Hour," with beautiful Humberto Ramos artwork. But it's also a Venom story with major Venom things a' brewing. And there's no Venom monthly book for Flash and the symbiote to go back to.
I cannot promise you anything about Flash, and I can't promise you anything about the symbiote.
Nrama: But there he's in Thunderbolts, am I right?
Slott: There is no Venom monthly book to go back to.
Nrama: OK. Fair enough.
Slott: And then our artist for issues #20 and #21 — and the whole "Goblin Nation" arc — is Giuseppe Camunicoli. And you look at the issues Giuseppe has done in Superior… every time Doc Ock has taken a life, Giuseppe has drawn it.
Everybody has gotten a chance on Superior to do, like, the big arcs. Humberto got to be the guy who did the "Dying Wish" arc. And Ryan has gotten to do a lot of the big arcs too. This is Giuseppe's time to have his big spotlight.
With "Goblin Nation"…. you know, once #20 comes out, I will have done, like, 100 issues of the core Spidey title. And when I look back, I think "Goblin Nation" might be the thing — for good or bad — that this is the one where people are going to go, "Yeah, we remember him for that story." You know? [Laughs.] And that's not necessarily a good thing; that could be a horrible thing! So I'm kind of scared! Because it's … "that's the story where blah blah happened!"
I've got a pit over here filled with people I've killed in Spider-Man. So I mean this in all seriousness: When you hit "Goblin Nation," all bets are off. No one is safe. No one is safe. This is Green Goblin. This is the guy who throws people off bridges. This is Doc Ock. This is the guy who killed Peter Parker. I'm sorry. No matter how long you've been in this book. No matter how long you've been in the Spider-Man universe. No matter who you are. I guarantee no one's safety.