Love it or hate it, the fish bowl stays.Mysterio, the Spider-Man villain who has an uncanny mastery of illusion, is the latest character getting a new lease on life thanks to the writing team on Amazing Spider-Man. Beginning with next week's issue #618, Mysterio and his fish bowl-shaped head will be featured in a story by Dan Slott as part of the series' villain-driven storyline, The Gauntlet.
The series has been telling stories of some of the classic Spider-Man villains, but updating them a bit for modern audiences. Slott, working with a redesign by his collaborator on the story, Marcos Martin, is hoping to show even Mysterio's detractors why the character stands up so well against Spider-Man.
For the first of our new Monthly Webbing features here on Newsarama, we talked to Slott about Mysterio and found out this is a story he's been wanting to tell for years, and the throw-down with Mr. Negative that follows it has been a long time coming as well.
Newsarama: Dan, you're bringing back Mysterio. Will this storyline explain why we thought he was dead, or is he just going to show up and that death will be retconned out of existence?
Dan Slott: Retcon? Peh. This is Mysterio, the master of illusion! [laughs] To find out the answer to why he's back, you'll just have to wait and see. A lot of this arc is dealing with, who is back from the dead? How? Why? And can any of this be trusted?
Nrama: You know, it's interesting that you bring up that "trusting" youself. Is that what Mysterio's greatest power is? Making you distrust your own sense?
Slott: Yeah. His greatest power is that when he's around, you don't know if black is white, or up is down. Mysterio messes with your perceptions and your beliefs. What's real? What isn't? He is the ultimate mind game-player.
Nrama: I know all the Amazing Spider-Man writers were asked what villain they'd like to write during The Gauntlet. Why did you want to write Mysterio?Slott: This is a Mysterio story I pitched from our very first ever Spider-Man meeting. I wanted to do this Mysterio story. And we locked all the classic characters in a box for half a year. And things kept happening that had to be taken care of. Like New Ways to Die was the story to tell at that time. It was like, here's this big story I'd like to tell that came out of everything we were doing. And people were asking a lot, "How is Harry back?" So that was my next story. And people were asking, "How does this mind wipe work?" So that was my next story. And then there was Spider-Man #600 and the return of Doc Ock.
There were big events in Spider-Man's life. But now it's like, OK, OK. Now I get to finally get to this story.
But why Mysterio? I've just always loved him. Some of the first comics I bought were Electro and Mysterio comics with Spidey. And there's just something about that Steve Ditko design and that big fish bowl. He was my favorite guy from the 1967 cartoons, which I am not old enough to have seen on first run, but they were running in syndication when I was a kid. He was just always my favorite. And he does the Steve Ditko fingers. You know what I'm talking about.
Nrama: Oh yeah.
Slott: The Dr. Strange type hand gesture thing. There's just something wonderfully weird about him.
I also like the guys who don't have the powers, but somehow have the ability to stand up to Spidey. Like Chameleon or Mysterio. That takes some chutzpah.Nrama: Will Mysterio be a little different from the character we've seen in the past? We've seen some other Spider-Man villains go through a bit of a revamp.
Slott: Marcos Martin has done a wonderful re-envisioning of the Mysterio costume. And there's going to be certain elements about it that deal with what's in the story. But for the most part, it's just a nice, new design. But one thing we talked about from the get-go was, whatever we do, don't change that fish bowl. We've got to have the fish bowl. Love the fish bowl. You don't mess with the fish bowl.
Working with Marcos is a joy. Every time the art comes in, it's perfect. Not a line out of place. Every line dedicated to character or gesture or story or mood or feel or plot. Every line does its job beautifully. When you work with Marcos, your draw drops every time new pages show up. It's the highlight of my day when new Marcos Martin pages come in.
Nrama: What other characters are involved in the story?
Slott: You'll see Carlie Cooper and Mr. Negative. You'll see stuff happening with the Maggia crime family, who we saw in the opening arc when the new Spider-Man team took over.
You're going to see a very important shift in the lives of Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson Sr. Three words: The honeymoon's over.
And you're going to see a lot of surprises, including characters that appear to be back from the dead.
Nrama: More than one?Slott: Yes. More than one.
Nrama: According to solicitations, Issue #619 has some kind of huge surprise?
Slott: It says it's going to have the most unbelievable Spider-Man moment of the year!!! I don't mean to get all P.T. Barnum on you, but that's Mysterio for you. And with this, I'd have to say yeah. [laughs] It's a pretty big shocker in #619. You see it and you go, "Behwaaaahh!!!!"
Nrama: What's Mr. Negative's involvement?
Slott: Mr. Negative has a long history with the Maggia crime family. When we've seen him take over criminal empires in Marvel's Manhattan, the one he's been gunning for is the Maggia family. He's been slowly taking over all their businesses, all the parts of their organization. He's been whittling it away and stealing it. And if you read the Mr. Negative mini, you know where the hatred for the Maggia family comes from.
As their gang war steps up, Mysterio becomes an important player.
Nrama: How is Carlie involved?
Slott: You'll have to read the story. This is going to be one of the biggest reveals about who Carlie Cooper is, in this arc.
Nrama: Has Mysterio perhaps been a player in the Marvel Universe in ways we didn't know?
Slott: We've seen Mysterio once before in this run. We find out there's a service Mysterio provides, and Norman Osborn used it. And the service is that he'll help you fake a death. He'll work his stage magic and do all kinds of stuff, and there can be a body in the coffin that you exhume, and there can be medical records that back this up, and everyone will think you're dead. This is one of many services Mysterio provides. And this is one of the reasons people thought Harry was dead, because Norman came to him and used it.
Nrama: After this story arc, what comes next?
Slott: Right after the three-part Mysterio story, it goes straight into a done-in-one story with Spidey and the Black Cat versus Mr. Negative. And that has gorgeous art by Michael Lark. It's been fun working with both Marcos Martin and Michael Lark.
Nrama: What's that story about?Slott: Following the events of the three-part Mysterio story, it's going to go right into the Spidey-Mr. Negative rematch that you wanted to see. We're going into year three here of our run on Spider-Man, and Mr. Negative and Spidey have never physically thrown down. He's been the mastermind, the puppeteer, the crime boss standing in the distance while the goons fought. And yet we've never seen Spider-Man lay a finger on him.
Nrama: As you mentioned, you've been on Amazing Spider-Man for three years. Have you become more comfortable with this character? Do you think you've grown as a Spider-Man writer?
Slott: That's a loaded question! [laughs] I'm so happy working on Spider-Man right now. It's one of my favorite things to do, is to work on Spidey. He's my drop-dead favorite character.
When I started out in the industry, everything I got to do, I stuck Spider-Man in it. And there was always this fear when I was writing something, whether it was She-Hulk, whether it was The Thing, there was always this fear that this would be the last comic I'd ever get to do. It was like, when is Marvel going to realize, when are they going to wake up and say, "Oh my God we've got to get rid of that Slott guy!" I always felt like this might be my last comic, so I would stick Spider-Man in there. So you'd get things like She-Hulk #4, or The Thing #6, where I just put Spider-Man in there.
Now that I'm on Spider-Man, I still have that pinch-me feel where it's like, is this real? Is this actually happening? You know, I've got 18 issues under my belt, but I'm still amazed this is happening. I'm grateful for each one I get to do, and that doesn't change.