Dan Slott Talks Spidey in "New Ways to Die"
Dan Slott on Spider-Man
Dan Slott is a busy, busy man—don't believe us? He'll tell you himself. He's hard at work as a member of the Spider-Man Brain Trust alongside Bob Gale, Marc Guggenheim, and Zeb Wells—just to name a few of the guys involved with the thrice-monthly flagship title from Marvel Comics. He's also the writer of Avengers: The Initiative which is deep in the throes of the Secret Invasion.He's got the best of intentions, right? For Spider-Man…not so much. Later this month, Slott returns to Amazing Spider-Man in his first six part storyline since the start of Brand New Day entitled 'New Ways to Die'—a storyline that features the return of not one, not two, but three of Peter Parker's heaviest of heavies: Mac Gargan, formerly the Scorpion and current host of the Venom symbiote, Norman Osborn a.k.a. the Green Goblin—Spidey's most notable nemesis and leader of the Thunderbolts; and this guy…you might remember him—Eddie Brock—the original host of Venom. Sounds like Marvel's friendly, neighborhood webslinger has his hands full with these three, right? Well, toss in a couple more Thunderbolts like Bullseye—and things start to get really interesting.
Newsarama contacted Slott to talk about 'New Ways to Die'—and why all of these dastardly no-gooders are coming back to get Spider-Man all at once. Newsarama: Well, Dan, let's cut right to it—give readers some set-up for 'New Ways to Die'. Dan Slott: Alright—let me be Mark Millar for a moment… (yelling) "IT'S THE GREATEST DAMN THING IN THE WORLD!!!" NRAMA: (laugh) Fair enough. DS: There you go—let me now jump back into 'Slott-mode'. 'New Ways to Die' is about Spidey smacking back into the Marvel U., facing off against The Thunderbolts, and doing it in a big summer blockbuster adventure. It's our first six-parter and our biggest story to date. It's the return of John Romita Jr. to Amazing Spider-Man! And it features the return of established Spidey-villains—Norman Osborn, Mac Gargan-Venom, and Eddie Brock! NRAMA: And Eddie Brock is still cancer-ridden and on his deathbed? DS: Yes. The last time we saw him Eddie had cancer and was on his deathbed. NRAMA: Ahh, the foreshadowing… DS: Like I'm really going to blow Amazing Spider-Man #568 for you. (laugh) NRAMA: Well, I'm using your terms here—he had cancer? Does he need to continue living now that Mac Gargan is Venom? How crucial is Eddie Brock to the modern Spider-Man mythos? DS: Eddie Brock is important to the mythos—he's had such a rich history of hating Spidey and hating Peter… NRAMA: --and he's a relatively young character—in the grand scheme of major villains in the Spider-Man rogue's gallery. DS: Well, he's been around for 20 years! Amazing Spider-Man #600 is in the window, you know? And Eddie's been a major force since #300. He's one of the most important Spider-Man characters of the '80's, '90's, and naughts—with or without the symbiote. NRAMA: What about this other guy—this white guy that everyone has been seeing pictures of for quite some time now. Speculation is running wild… DS: Yeah, that's one of the downfalls of releasing images so far in advance and watching everyone try to piece together a whole puzzle based on looking at one piece. So—yes—we have this character called Anti-Venom coming and there have been all kinds of guesses based on 'who' or 'what' he is exactly. NRAMA: Is this another symbiote spawned from Venom? DS: I will not even say if Anti-Venom is a symbiote. A lot of people have worried, "Oh no—not another symbiote…another Carnage…another Toxin!" We're not going to tell you if this is another symbiote—but when Spidey first sees it; he’s going to think it's a symbiote—but he may not be right. NRAMA: What can you tell readers about this Anti-Venom? DS: He's white and black. During meetings, initially he was referred to as "White Venom"—and when I did the pitch to do the story—I was determined not to call him "White Venom"—because to me it sounds like I just walked into a bar and ordered a drink. You know—it's like, "My girlfriend will have a Pink Squirrel and I'll have a White Venom." For what the character is and what the character does, Anti-Venom is the perfect name; and unlike things like 'Reverse Flash' or 'Anti-Monitor'—Anti-venom is a word! If you get attacked with poisonous venom, hopefully you can be injected with the right antivenom. See? Real word. NRAMA: I don't know. Do people want to be injected by this guy?!? DS: That's a very good question. Friend or foe? OOoooOOOooo—there's my answer: the sound of a Theremin! NRAMA: How does Norman Osborn figure into the equation? He's Spider-Man's number one nemesis…it's the classic rivalry. Is the government going to be involved with Osborn? DS: Well, of course the government is going to be involved—Norman Osborn is the leader of the Thunderbolts. NRAMA: So now—Osborn is sanctioned to go after Spider-Man… DS: Yes. The only other time Spider-Man has bumped into the Thunderbolts was during Avengers/Invaders which was a "chance encounter"—where the Thunderbolts weren't intending on going after Spider-Man specifically; they ran into Spider-Man. This time, they are hunting him down; this time, he is their number one agenda. For those folks who haven't been reading Amazing Spider-Man, there is a serial killer running around leaving Spider-Tracers on the bodies of his victims—so obviously that's Spider-Man. So, the Thunderbolts aren't just going after Spider-Man; they are going after him dead or alive. NRAMA: What's your take on Norman Osborn now that he's a government operative—and everyone knows he's the Green Goblin. DS: Who knows he's the Green Goblin?!? Obviously, it was a frame-up! You know how poisonous that liberal media is. NRAMA: Right but the government knows, in recent issues of Thunderbolts… DS: Wait—now—if you remember correctly that was because his mind was being messed with by psychics. He would've done anything they told him to. Hey, if they mentally made him walk around and cluck like a chicken, the government wouldn't assume that he's Chicken-Man. Seriously though, Norman Osborn is the Spider-Man villain. In my heart of hearts, if it comes down to "that fateful day" where Spidey and some villain have their hands around each others' throat—for Captain America, you've got the Red Skull for Batman, you've got the Joker—for Spidey, it's the Goblin…or Doc Ock. NRAMA: I'd say Goblin before Doc Ock… DS: Why? Because Doc's a tubby guy with glasses? NRAMA: Well, so am I…but I don't wear glasses. DS: Same here. But that's where I've got one over on [Editor Tom] Brevoort…perfect eyesight! Not that that matters, he could still crush me like a bug. NRAMA: Is Norman bringing all the Thunderbolts with him? DS: It's a crew of Thunderbolts, including Bullseye. NRAMA: This isn't his first encounter with Bullseye, is it? DS: I thought it was—but I was wrong. I'm a big nut for being that guy who gets to do something first with a character; but there was one issue of Peter Parker: Spider-Man — written by Howard Mackie and drawn by John Romita, Jr.—and the encounter is all of five pages. It's a very small encounter—I don't even think they come into contact. Things are thrown and dodged and webbed and I was like, "Aw man, THAT was the first time?!?" Fine! Whatever. I love our issue with Bullseye—where it's a really down-and-dirty Spider-Man/Bullseye fight. I can't till readers reach that part of 'New Ways to Die'. The artwork is gorgeous—and I'm glad I got to be the guy who got to do the second encounter with Bullseye—it may not be the first but it'll be the bloodiest! NRAMA: Will there be more… DS: Yes! NRAMA: …developments with Mary Jane during this storyline? DS: What?! No. I think one of the really interesting things that is going to happen is that we've had Harry Osborn in the book now for over 20 issues—and this is going to be the first time that He's reunited with his father. NRAMA: Harry and Norman—occupying space together—we haven't seen that… DS: …in the longest time! That's what makes it so interesting. NRAMA: It's been alluded to over the past several months that Harry doesn't get along with Norman… DS: Well there you go. Now everyone knows that there won't be a father-son bonding scene at the Build-A-Bear Workshop… BOTH: Awwww. NRAMA: Isn't Daddy's money paying for Harry's coffee shop? DS: Hmm.... Read 'New Ways to Die #569!" *more Theremin sounds* NRAMA: Are you at work on another Spider-Man arc after this one? DS: Yes. There's this big mystery in the book where readers don't know how much time has passed before the start of Brand New Day… NRAMA: Before the deal went down. DS: Yes, so there is this gap of time—and we're going to allude to that further. In ASM #546 we saw a newspaper on the ground that said something like "Spider-Man hasn't been seen for 100 days,"—with the exception of his appearance in 'Swing Shift'. So there's a gap—of at least 100 days—where "things" happened. NRAMA: So was Pete asleep on a couch somewhere? How does that work? DS: Well, after the events of Civil War and the Initiative clicks into place, the heroes were so well mobilized that there was barely any crime that wasn't dealt with by this legion of well-trained superheroes. So the world you're seeing at the start of #546—didn't need Spider-Man. Pete tried to get his life in order and found out that he couldn't—that the choices he's made in the past as Spider-Man have cut down the options of what he can do with his life now. NRAMA: So this next story you're writing addresses his previous life? DS: I'm not going to divulge much more—just that this next story will address some key questions about the gap and some things that happen during the gap. NRAMA: Who's handling the art on this story? DS: Barry Kitson. Working on Amazing—it's a dream because you really get to work with the best guys in the industry and I've so lucked out. I've got work with John Romita Jr., Steve McNiven, Phil Jimenez, Marcos Martin, and new guys like Paulo Sequeira—who I think did an amazing job on his first Spidey issue—and now I get to work with Barry Kitson. That's AWESOME! I look at the guys who we have lined up and it's like I can't wait to work with all of them—Mike McKone, Chris Bachalo—it's a murderer's row! We just have a stunning array of talent on this book. Keep your eyes peeled for the second part of our interview with Dan Slott as he discusses upcoming developments with Avengers: The Initiative.