NYCC 2014: Jason Latour's SPIDER-GWEN Origins and Plans

Spider-Gwen #1 by Robbi Rodriguez
Spider-Gwen #1 by Robbi Rodriguez
Credit: Marvel Comics

It’s the story everyone saw coming: a typically throw-away short story in a one-shot becomes a massive internet and sales sensation overnight, leading to an ongoing series for that character.

What, you didn’t call that?

Yes, Spider-Gwen #1 is coming, from the team of Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez, who shepherded her into the Marvel Multiverse via Edge of Spider-Verse #2. From the character’s first announcement (not appearance, announcement), this alternate world Gwen Stacy who got the spider bite instead of Peter Parker had vocal fans. There was cosplay of the character seemingly overnight, with both fans and artists drawing their interpretations of her – even though she had not yet appeared on a single printed page.

Spider-Gwen joins Spider-Woman and Silk in the ever-expanding – and increasingly female Spider-Man corner of the universe.

We caught up with Latour at New York Comic Con just after the announcement (well, after not one, not two, but three Spider-Gwen cosplayers came to him for pictures and signings), for an exclusive first interview on what this newest Spider-character has in store for fans.

Edge of Spider-Verse #2 cover
Edge of Spider-Verse #2 cover
Credit: Marvel

Newsarama: So, Jason, is it sinking in yet that this fun little one-off character comes around and now you have an ongoing series out of it?

Jason Latour: Yeah, it’s pretty impressive, ain’t it? I can’t think of another example of the public voting so fast and having it turn around.

I for one am super flattered, and feel a real responsibility to get it right. You know, you work in comics as long as I’ve sort of been in and around it, which is basically my whole life, and you could never have recreated the situation that led us here. So part of the fun is to sit back and enjoy it. How often does anybody get a “Gwen” like this?

Nrama: Absolutely! So, being an artist yourself, did you contribute to the design here, or just let Robbi go crazy?

Latour: No, I just gave Robbi a prompt. I said, Okay, Robbi, this is what you’re good at: go do it. He did all the heavy lifting on that. That’s about as much credit as I feel comfortable taking.

Nrama: So where did the drummer and the Mary Janes part come in?

Latour: You know, I knew Robbi and I both like music, it’s a part of our life, a thing we’re interested in. I knew Robbi wanted to draw the book, and that he’d nail that.

Then from a story standpoint, I’m a creative person, I’ve been a creative person my whole life. To have the drive to sort of be yourself, but decide how much of yourself you give to the world and how much you keep inside. That’s part of being an artist, one part is selfish, one part gives to people. I felt like that was a neat parallel to what Spider-Man is all about.

So the two things just sort of clicked organically. It also felt like a fresh way to do a Spider-character that we’d never seen before.

Gwen the Spider-Woman in Edge of Spider-Verse #2
Gwen the Spider-Woman in Edge of Spider-Verse #2
Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: Why Drums specifically for Gwen, and not guitar or lead vocals or whatever?

Latour: Because, it’s all personality stuff. It’s all the fact that, you know, being raised by a cop, there’d always be emphasis on being a steady hand, being a person who doesn’t take too much credit for things, but is there to help people. The drummer, if nothing else, that’s what they are in most bands, they’re the glue that holds things together. So you can see two things on display here: when she’s Gwen she is the Gwen she’s grown up to be. When she puts the mask on, she can be somebody else and define who that person is – she gets to be the frontman, so to speak. So it was fun to play with that.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Also, our friend Rico, who colors the book and is an amazing colorist, is a drummer, and his little daughter is learning the drums. So that was sort of in the back of my head – I didn’t actually put it together until we started working on the book, I forgot that! And she’s a little tiny blonde girl, so that all sort of gelled together, you know?

Nrama: You sort of teased it in the one-shot, but why does Gwen decide that she needs to be a hero?

Latour: Right, well, we implied that… the story of how Peter Parker (in our universe) actually died is a story that we may tell at some point. But what you need to take away from that, is she feels responsible for having inspired him to become the Lizard. When she got her superpowers, she basically did what 616 Peter did, which is try to become famous, try to be on stage. So her being on stage inspired [her] Peter to try to be special, too. So he did this, became a supervillain, they fought, and somehow, Peter died. So she feels responsible for Peter’s death. And it’s also interesting because her dad is a cop, so now she’s a criminal. That mask, it is the literal grey area between her sense of justice and doing right by other people that her father would preach and instill in her as a kid, and this new and unique modern reality for her that he would have no concept of. So it’s her trying to merge those together, and being a hero is for herself.

Spider-Gwen #1 by Robbi Rodriguez
Spider-Gwen #1 by Robbi Rodriguez
Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: Gwen is a fairly new hero, and when you pick up her story for the ongoing, she’ll have just been part of this crazy Spider-Verse thing, meeting and working alongside all these other Spiders, including some much more experienced ones. How… that has to have a pretty profound impact on her, right?

Latour: Yeah, absolutely. It’s going to have an impact on her as a superhero, but it’ll also wreak havoc on her life as Gwen Stacy, because to her friends and family, she went missing!

Her bandmates were already concerned because she basically blew the concert, and her father, after this big reveal, his daughter goes missing. So when she comes back from Spider-Verse, not only will she be inspired by the Spider-Men and Women she meets to sort of try to be a better hero, she will also have to pick up the pieces of being Gwen Stacy, and figuring out what that means.

So that’s really what the drive of the first arc is.

Nrama: Very cool! Are we going to see more alternate versions of familiar faces?

Latour: Absolutely. That sort of evil-ish Matt Murdock will be a big part of things moving forward. We have sort of a new, retro take on an old Spider-villain to start, and then we have a surprise antagonist, who’s also a well-known New York Marvel character. Speculate away.

Nrama: What’s one thing in particular that you’re really excited, either yourself to write or for fans to see after Spider-Gwen kicks off?

Latour: Look, I’ll be real coy about this, but I’ll say one thing – the Parkers, Ben and May, are still alive. Just keep that in the back of your head.

Nrama: You want a little shameless plug time for your other projects here, like Southern Bastards?

Latour: (laughs) Yeah, they’re very separate projects, but I’m the co-creator and artist on Southern Bastards, which I’m really super proud of. People who come from something a little lighter like Spider-Gwen might think it’s a little too hard-edged for them, but I’d invite you to give it a try, it’s a little different and a little more open to all kinds of readers than you might expect. So, Jason Aaron and I are working on that – and he is just awesome.

Nrama: You and Robbi planning a nice long stay with Spider-Gwen?

Latour: I hope so. I hope I can put the bridle on that bull that is Robbi and ride him for as long as I can!

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