Spider-Man and The Secret Wars #1This weekend, during Chicago Comic-Con, Marvel Comics announced the launch of a new limited series in December focusing on Spider-Man’s adventures during the original Secret Wars crossover. Spider-Man and the Secret Wars reunites the team that brought you Dr. Doom & The Masters of Evil, writer Paul Tobin and artist Patrick Scherberger. Their new project boasts several untold Spider-Man tales during his time spent kidnapped by the Beyonder alongside a bevy of heroes and villains. Readers can expect to see stories like: Spider-Man, The Thing, and Dr. Doom defending the city of Denver from scores of flesh eating aliens; Spider-Man and The Enchantress versus Galactus, and more.
Newsarama contacted both Paul Tobin and Patrick Scherberger to talk about their newest collaborative effort on Spider-Man and The Secret Wars.
Newsarama: Paul, what's your story behind this project? What is your breadth of experience with the original Secret Wars content from the 80s?
Paul Tobin: Editor Nate Cosby called me one day and asked if I’d be interested in a Secret Wars project with artist Patrick Scherberger already aboard, and I jumped at the chance, because I fondly remembered reading the original series, and also because I’d really enjoyed working with Patrick on our Dr. Doom & the Masters of Evil project. And, like anyone who read the original Secret Wars series, I already had a handful of ideas in my head. It was such a fast-paced rollicking series that many really intriguing events weren’t explored in full, so I already had a lot of thoughts on how to bring those events to richer life.
NRAMA: What is Spider-Man and the Secret Wars really about?
TOBIN: Giving broader explanation to the events we felt merited the story, anything from Spider-Man getting the black costume, to how Titania and Volcana suddenly appeared in the overall story… an incident that I’m tying in to another offhand appearance, that of the city of Denver just being there on Battleworld, thanks to some whim of the Beyonder’s.
NRAMA: Patrick, what did you want to bring to the table that might be new or different for a "retro" project like this? Did you study any of Mike Zeck's work from the original?
TOBIN: I do not get to answer this question, unless I pretend I’m Patrick, and if I was Patrick I’d be at the drawing table, All The Time, making the pretty pictures, right Patrick?
Spider-Man and The Secret Wars Interior ArtPatrick Scherberger: Absolutely. I’d never read the original series, so the first thing I did was hunt down the trade for the first series. I really tried to stay as close to the original designs from the series, but a couple of small costume tweaks were made just to some of the costumes; She-Hulk’s costume being the only big change to the series that I can think of. I also tried to keep the tech in the series as close to how Mike had it as possible.
I didn’t want to go too crazy and overhaul something that didn’t need to be touched. Besides, these books are meant to fit in with the original series. And I really want Paul’s scripts to feel like they could be read with the original Secret Wars and not take the reader out of the story, but that they can also be picked up by new readers who may have never read the original series.
NRAMA: Do the two of you think the dynamic elements of comic books have changed much or at all in the past 25 years since the publication of the original Secret Wars maxi-series?
TOBIN: They have for me, at least. I’m part of the wave of writers who grew up with independent comics, and their greater emphasis on characterization. When the Marvel Age began, way back in the sixties, it was with solid characterization and heroes with whom readers had empathy. I think that slowly dwindled away until characterization became a quick façade, and then it was all about big action. Mainstream comics paid the price for that folly in the 1990’s, but in recent years people like Bendis and Brubaker, and now Matt Fraction and Jeff Parker, are really bringing back the emphasis on having people behind the masks. And it can still be about the big events and big powers, but now there are complex people behind the masks. I think it took comics decades to learn that Watchmen wasn’t about being dark and gritty, it was about placing real people in a dark and gritty world. People were the emphasis, not the darkness.
SCHERBERGER: I’m not sure I’m the right person to answer that. I didn’t begin reading many American comics until the early 90’s. I was a military kid and didn’t have access to a steady stream of US comics beyond Archie and Archie’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics based around the TV show. It wasn’t until I was in college that I found my way back into comics.
I can say that it’s been nice to see the industry trend away from books that are art dominated to books that are dictated by the story. Not that a good splash page isn’t fantastic from time to time, but many of those books just become a collection of panels jumbled across the page for the sake of design and really seemed to override the story. There now seems to be a much larger emphasis on storytelling.
NRAMA: Paul, will this project introduce anything that will affect current Spider-Man continuity in the Marvel Universe? Or is this strictly "extra value material" for Secret Wars fans?
Spider-Man and The Secret Wars 2 CoverTOBIN: It’s always possible that something we do here might be expanded or revisited. Shock waves have certainly been known to travel via scripts.
NRAMA: Did either of you have specific moments during Secret Wars that you wanted to write or draw?
TOBIN: I had a lot of leeway with choosing what could be explored in each of the individual issues. The only one that editorial said I HAD to explore was one that I would have explored anyway, so there was no pressure there. In the end, everything that’s going into the series is what I wanted to see, so I hope people like my choices, because the buck stops with me on this one.
SCHERBERGER: Not really a specific moment, but I was really looking forward to drawing Captain America for the first time. I enjoy the other characters, especially Spidey, but I’ve been dying to draw Cap for quite a while.
NRAMA: Do either of you have a favorite moment in the project thus far?
TOBIN: The cover caption for the original Secret Wars # 4 read, “BENEATH ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BILLION TONS STANDS THE HULK--- AND HE’S NOT HAPPY.” I have to tell you…I loved that issue. So… can you guess the plot line for our first issue?
SCHERBERGER: I do, but don’t want to spoil anything. So I’ll keep my mouth shut for the time being.
NRAMA: Paul, would you want to work on similar projects for other previous Marvel events in the future?
TOBIN: You mean would I want to work on more projects where I have a lot of fun and get to work with extremely talented artists? Sure. That’d be cool. Frankly, there are a lot of corners of the Marvel Universe where I still want to play, and they’re all fine for me. One thing that Jeff Parker and I talk about all the time is that there are no bad characters and no bad comics…just ones that haven’t been written well…yet.
NRAMA: Patrick, what is the most challenging aspect of your job when you're telling fast-paced, action-packed stories with a limited amount of pages?
SCHERBERGER: The biggest challenge is getting all of the little character moments right. The series is full of fantastic battles and big ideas, but it’s the little moments between the action that really drive home the story for me. Paul’s great with making sure that the script leaves plenty of room for the epic scenes and time for the characters to interact with each other to move the story forward.
NRAMA: How would the two of you best describe Spider-Man and the Secret Wars to folks who might be riding the fence about exploring the project?
TOBIN: Secret Wars was one of the greatest events in Marvel history, and this series allows a closer look into some of its key events. Beyond that, I can truly say that nothing draws me to a comic more than knowing that the creators truly enjoyed working on the project, and that they put that enjoyment onto every page. That’s what Patrick and I are doing…having a blast bringing the story and art to life.
SCHERBERGER: What he said. I suppose this is why I’m a penciler and not a writer.