Come November, Amazing Spider-Man is hitting the "Big Time" — as is its newly solo writer, Dan Slott. After nearly three years of the "Brand New Day" writer relay team, Slott is taking on the Marvel Comics flagship title on his own with issue #648, along with the rotating art staff of Humberto Ramos, Stefano Caselli and Marcos Martin.
In the first part of our interview, posted this past Friday, Newsarama talked with Slott about the conception of "Big Time" — including Peter Parker's new career and girlfriend — and looked back on the legacy of "Brand New Day."
Here, we get in-depth on what readers can expect come November, the returns of Hobgoblin and the Scorpion, the role of Mary Jane, Spidey's supporting cast in general, working with the new art team and what — if any — the significance of the Marcos Martin-drawn Spider-Man teaser image is (seen below), released last week at Comic-Con International: San Diego's Spider-Man panel and depicting what looks to be Spider-Man in an FF uniform.
Nrama: You’ve got three very different artists to work with. Looks like Humberto Ramos is on the first arc?
Slott: Yes. Humberto Ramos is on the first arc. If you’ve seen his recent art in The Initiative and Runaways, I looked at the stuff he’s doing with Amazing Spider-Man, and I think it’s a quantum leap forward even more. You talk to Humberto, and Spider-Man is his favorite guy. He’s very aware that when you step up and you’re working on Amazing Spider-Man, you take your best shot. I can’t wait for people to see the opening sequence, he just really went to town on the first issue. It’s gorgeous.
Nrama: Based on the art that’s been revealed so far, is that first arc with Humberto also the one bringing back the Hobgoblin?
Slott: Yes! The first issue is crazy. The first issue, so much happens. The ball moves up the field in so many different ways in Peter Parker’s life.
Coming out of that, we go straight into the Hobgoblin. He’s one of the most requested characters we’ve had. We haven’t seen him in a while. The last time we saw the last man to call himself Hobgoblin, he was sipping drinks out of a coconut on a beach, happy and content. When you look at the Hobgoblin, and why he was so popular, a big chunk of that was that he was always a step ahead of Spider-Man. A lot of that was the mystery. “Who is this guy?” “What is he doing?” “What is his secret plan?” So much of the Hobgoblin was that ongoing mystery. And it kept building and building and building. And was it Ned Leeds, or was it Flash Thompson. Eventually we discovered it was Roderick Kingsley. When we’re bringing back Hobgoblin, and you see this new design and this new feel, we are going to take the mystery element of “who is the Hobgoblin?” Because is this [Jason] Macendale? Is this Kingsley? Is this Ned Leeds’ return from the grave?
Nrama: Well, Macendale is dead too.
Slott: Yes … Macendale is dead.
Nrama: He got fried in prison, right? In Hobgoblin Lives?
Slott: Yes … Macendale got fried in prison. (Laughs.) One of the questions you’re going to wonder is, “Who’s under that mask? Who is the Hobgoblin?” And when people see the solicits for November, you’re going to see we’re going to turn this on its head. We’re going to take the Hobgoblin mystery and spin it a whole new way. We’re not going to do the same thing they did before. This is not going to be a — wait ‘till you see the solicits. We’re not going to do it the way it was before. This is a whole new thing.
Nrama: The last time we saw Hobgoblin was what, 1998? In the “Goblins at the Gate” story arc in Spectacular Spider-Man?
Slott: People should start pulling out their Hobgoblin stories and start a-readin’. I don’t know if it’s gonna help you. Probably won’t. (Laughs.)
Nrama: Also art-wise, you were able to keep Marcos Martin on the roster. I’m sure that was huge for you.
Slott: Oh boy, did that make me happy. Working with him on the Paper Doll arc and the Mysterio arc was some of the happiest experiences of my life. He just has this gift for drawing Spider-Man. And his storytelling, and design work. It’s just so effortless with him. It just flows. And it’s so much fun to work with him. He’s going to be on our third arc. And that’s … we should talk about it in order. The second arc is going to be Stefano.
Nrama: OK, let’s talk about Stefano.
Slott: Stefano is my pal from The Initiative! And boy was I mad when he left The Initiative. When they took him off for Secret Warriors, we didn’t know our new team was going to be at that point. All I knew is that we were leaving Stefano, and I just so loved working with him. It’s a treat to be back with him. We’ve very much in synch as creators. We’re constantly trying to make the best comic we can. We both obsess over the smallest details. We’re very much two halves of the same coin. It’s really fun to work with him. His work is always so energetic and vibrant, and all the characters he designs feel real. They’re very emotive. He made people fall in love with Cloud Nine in one issue, and really made you care so much about MVP before we killed him in the same issue. That’s part of his magic — he just makes you care about these characters. I’m having a blast. I’m working with Humberto, someone I’ve never worked with before, and he’s blowing my sock’s off; and with Stefano, working with someone I love working with, and that’s so comfortable; and with Marcos, it’s working with someone I greatly admire as an artiste. It’s a one-two-three punch.
Nrama: It’s a good position to be in.
Slott: With Stefano’s arc, you are going to see a really — something big is going to happen in that arc. And by the end of it, Spider-Man’s roster of powers is going to change. That’s one of the things that’s going to happen. And not the biggest. The biggest thing that’s gonna happen will affect the way he sees himself as Spider-Man. And it’s going to ask him what kind of Spider-Man he wants to be. This isn’t about throwing the costume into the trash can. We’re seeing him step up and be the best Peter Parker he can be. What’s happens in the second arc is going to make him try to step up his game as Spider-Man as well. You’re going to see him operating in a way that Spider-Man has never operated before.
Nrama: Does that maybe tie into what you were talking about at the panel at San Diego about Spider-Man coming up with new gadgets and technology and such?
Slott: Maybe. (Laughs.) Could be! And the arc that starts, right after that, with Marcos, by the end of that arc he’s going to go through a major status quo change. So it really is one-two-three, things happening right after each other, building and building. The way he sees himself as Peter, the way he sees himself as Spider-Man, and this new chapter of his life. And three big adventures.
Nrama: Are any of these bigger ideas concepts you’ve had in your mind forever, or is it all things you’ve come up with since getting the assignment?
Slott: Both. There’s stuff I’ve always wanted to do with Spidey, but at the same time, you have to look at “where is Spidey now, where do you want him to go, and what’s exciting in the world of the Marvel Universe now?” When we were doing Brand New Day, and we came on board as the new day, one of the things we wanted to do was focus on what makes Spider-Man Spider-Man, and really flesh out Spider-Man’s world. Some fans got confused, and they started thinking, “is Spider-Man in a bubble? He doesn’t really seem to be interacting with the rest of the Marvel Universe?” This is not the case with where we’re starting from here. We are just kicking right off, and “hey, here’s Spider-Man and the Avengers. Here’s Spider-Man with the FF.” This is clearly Spider-Man smack-dab in the Marvel Universe, and a driving force in the Marvel Universe.
Nrama: Speaking of the Fantastic Four, one of the teaser images released so far is Spider-Man in what looks to be a Fantastic Four uniform.
Slott: Fantastic Spider-Man! Yeah. What about it? (Laughs.)
Nrama: Probably nothing you can comment on, huh?
Slott: I don’t want to step on Jonathan Hickman’s toes, but he’s got a big storyline coming up [in Fantastic Four] called “Three.” And you take three, and you add one, and you’re back to four.
Nrama: Can’t argue with the math there, seems to all check out.
Slott: There’s been a lot of speculation about what’s going to happen at the end of “Three.” Just say that if something really big happened over at Fantastic Four and became “Three,” just saying … if you lost one of your strongest members it might behoove you to have someone with spider-strength on your team.
Nrama: Seems like a natural fit.
Slott: Yeah! Or if you have somebody like Franklin who might be going through a very hard time because of some kind of loss, then perhaps having your favorite superhero and someone you admire around to help you through that could be a good thing too. Or … if you were one of Spider-Man’s best friends, you might want it be known that if something ever happened to you, that you’d like him to take his place.
Nrama: Or …
Slott: Or … if you lost your biggest brain, who came up with all your gizmos and gadgets and science and tech and helped you explore, you might need someone with Peter Parker-level intelligence to help out.
Or … maybe it's just Fantastic Four appreciation day and that's the suit Spidey had in the closet. Or, hey, who's to say that's Spidey in that suit at all? Maybe it's the all-new Tarantula? OK, have I created enough obfuscation there?
Nrama: That was very comprehensive, Dan. We were talking earlier about Hobgoblin, and you’ve also said that Mac Gargan will be back as Scorpion. Can you reveal when we might see that?
Slott: You will see that in the second arc. Along with another Spider-Man villain — at least another Spider-Man villain — who we haven’t seen in the book for some time. Someone we have not seen in the book for years.
Nrama: What motivated you to bring Mac Gargan back as the Scorpion?
Slott: I’ve always wanted to bring back Gargan as the Scorpion. Look at how many times I’ve tried to do it before.
Nrama: That’s true! You even had him in the Scorpion outfit in “New Ways to Die.”
Slott: In “New Ways to Die” and in Mighty Avengers! I can’t stop trying to put him back in that suit. I’m like, “Hey, I’m working on Amazing Spider-Man now? I’m the writer? He’s back in the suit!” One of the things you’re going to see in this book is you are going to get Spider-Man villains returning true to form. And you’re going to see Spider-Man villains with all new twists to who they are and how they operate. And you’re going to see all-new villains as well. You’re going to get everything. You’re going to get every possible permutation of that. You’re going to see representations of every era of Spider-Man with our bad guys.
Nrama: Are there any villains you’d like to bring back that you might not have specific plans for yet?
Slott: You will see a villain who used to be in the Spider-Man fold come back to the Spider-Man fold.
At one of the cons I was pressured, “are we going to see any super-villain team-ups?” and I did hold up six fingers. I don’t know what that means. I think there could be a six-armed guy showing up.
Nrama: Could be.
Slott: I have been very careful with how I have parsed my words in these interviews and these panels. One of the things that I like now that I’m back from San Diego and I’ve looked at some of the message boards is that I’ve been very good with how I’ve worded things. One of the things I have said in a lot of these interviews and on panels I have worded very carefully — I’m not going to say what it is, you’ll have to go through everything with a fine-toothed comb — but I am loving that people have fallen for my horrible misdirection where everything I said was perfectly fair and true and honest, but people have taken the ball and run with it in the wrong direction, just as I hoped. It is cracking me up to watch some people grouse about something that I said because they have gone 180 degrees in the wrong direction. I can’t wait ‘till the thing actually happens!
Nrama: Well, that’s certainly intriguing. What can you say about the new villains showing up?
Slott: We will see a new villain in the Marcos Martin arc. It’s someone that gets to the core of something Spider-Man finds offensive. Something that just goes against everything Spider-Man stands for. It’s really gonna push Spidey’s buttons. You’re also going to see some of our newer bad guys, too. You’re gonna see some Mr. Negative stuff.
Nrama: So those Brand New Day characters are still going to be around?
Slott: Every era of Spider-Man history will be touched on and show up. You’re going to see something happening with Mr. Negative and Shang-Chi in the Spider-Man Shadowland one-shot. Then the next time we see Mr. Negative in Amazing Spider-Man, there will be a drastic status quo change for that character. His story will move to the next level.
We’re not just making new villains in Amazing Spider-Man. You will also see a new vigilante within the first year, who has ties to Spider-Man’s past.
Nrama: People always focus on new villains, but new possible allies is interesting.
Slott: Well, I don’t know if Spidey’s gonna like this person.
Nrama: You’ve said that Mary Jane is going to come back to be an important part of the series again.
Slott: Mary Jane is an important part of the series. Mary Jane is the one person in his normal life that knows his secret identity. That gives him such a strong bond, even though she’s his ex. That really ties them together in a way that he can relate to her in a way that he can’t relate to anyone else. You’ll see a lot of developments between their relationship. She will play an important part in the supporting cast.
Nrama: There’s going to be a new supporting cast tying in to Peter’s new career, and a lot of classic people, but are we still going to see Brand New Day additions like Norah Winters?
Slott: Yeah. Norah, and Carlie. We’re also going to see things that had been established keep going, like Mayor J. Jonah Jameson. We’re not undoing that. Newspapers are kind of dying. By having Jonah be the most powerful man in New York City keeps him relevant, and a fun character in the book of Spider-Man, especially since New York is a character itself in this book.
Nrama: Are there any supporting cast members we haven’t seen in a while you’d like to bring back?
Slott: We’re going to see some more with Flash. Always Jonah, and Robbie. There will be a nice mix of classic Spidey supporting cast members and new characters.