Mutants and the Webhead: Christos Gage on Spider-Man/X-Men

Christos Gage on Spider-Man/X-Men

Announced this weekend at Toronto’s Fan Expo, Marvel released information on the upcoming Spider-Man/X-Men four issue miniseries by Christos Gage and Mario Alberti.

The story will see Spider-Man and Marvel’s mutants at four periods throughout their history, from their earliest moments to present day. And being that a story needs its villains, Kraven and the Blob are in #1 to help kick things off. But are they working alone?

We spoke with Gage for more.

Newsarama: Christos, let’s start with the traditional first question - how did this one get started? Was it something you pitched toward Marvel to work in the Spider-Office, or did Steve Wacker call you up?

Christos Gage: I actually got a call from Steve and Andy Schmidt, who at the time was an editor in the X-office. They were both big fans of Italian artist Mario Alberti, an incredible talent who is well known in Europe but criminally unfamiliar to American audiences and wanted to get him involved in a project for Marvel. They'd hit on the idea of a four-issue Spider-Man/X-Men miniseries, with each issue taking place in a different era in Marvel history, and the final one occurring in the present day.

Obviously, I was thrilled to be asked to write these characters at all...but once I saw Mario's art, I was all over this like Go-Go boots on Gwen Stacy. I came up with a pitch that everyone liked, and then Andy left Marvel shortly thereafter, so Steve and Mario and I fleshed things out and got to work on the book, and we've really been having more fun than anyone should get paid to have. It's been a blast...Mario is doing some amazing work, and Steve is captaining the ship with a sure hand. I just hope I'm holding up my end...art like this, you really want to do justice to!

NRAMA: As you said, this miniseries starts in the early days of both Spider-Man and the X-Men. What does that mean for how you approach both the characters, and the broader "world" that they live in? There's always the argument that the characters were more innocent at their starts, which holds water, but it also seems that the world at the start of the "Marvel Age" was different...it hadn't "responded" to the new heroes in its own way, yet...

CN: That's part of what makes this interesting to me--seeing how the characters evolved over the course of their history. In our first issue, as you point out, things are more innocent--Gwen Stacy is alive and dating Peter, and the X-Men are teenagers just coming into their own as individuals, so you could say it's a bit more light hearted in tone...although that innocence does bring with it the danger of inexperience. By the second issue, we've got Black Costume Spidey and an X-Team that's just seen the wholesale slaughter of the Mutant Massacre, so things are considerably grimmer. In our third issue, Spider-Man is Ben Reilly--that's right, the infamous Spider-Clone--and Wolverine has lost his adamantium, instead sporting bone claws...so it's a time of confusion and uncertainty. And the final issue brings us into the present day, post-One More Day and "No More Mutants."

NRAMA: Ballparking things here, when does this adventure start? Obviously after X-Men #1 and Kraven's intro in Amazing Spider-Man...

CN: The first issue takes place after X-Men #66. The second occurs right after Kraven's Last Hunt and the Mutant Massacre storyline. #3 happens around the time Peter Parker has lost his powers and Ben Reilly is the only Spider-Man. I'm going to stay a bit cagy about pinning down the time period for #4, except to say that it's post-One More Day.

NRAMA: What brings Spider-Man in contact with the X-Men? Is their meeting in #1 a retcon of their first meeting?

CN: No, we didn't want to do a retcon and say "this is when Spidey really met the X-Men for the first time" or anything like that. When we start, they've met once or twice...but it is the first meeting of Peter Parker and the X-Men in their civilian identities, and the first time any of the X-Men encounter Pete's supporting cast! No, they don't know about each others' costumed identities...they're all in the Coffee Bean, and with ladies' men like Flash Thompson and the Angel laying eyes on babes like Jean Grey, Gwen, and Mary Jane, you know fireworks are in store!

NRAMA: Character profile time - how do you see Kraven? At the start at least, this is "Kraven classic" at the height of his imperialistic superiority as things start, right? Why would he sully himself to work with anyone, let along the Blob?

CN: Well, he also teamed with the Sinister Six and the Chameleon, among others. I agree with your description of him, but Kraven has always been willing to work with others if it served his purposes. He certainly doesn't see the Blob as an equal...more muscle for hire. Kraven has a goal in mind, and he'll stop at nothing to achieve it.

NRAMA: The Blob - this is Fred without the baggage of the Brotherhood at first, and then...we see him...become...how does he develop?

CN: He gets fatter. Seriously, you should see the way Mario drew him...it's a thing of beauty!

NRAMA: Which X-Men are you going to be playing with?

CN: Initially it's the original Silver Age team. In issue #2, it's all new and all different: Wolverine, Storm, Dazzler (for Jim McCann), and Rogue. By #3 we're seeing some X-characters for the second time, as will be the case in #4...but I'll keep the exact lineup under wraps for now. Wolverine is a pretty safe bet, though.

NRAMA: Are Kraven and the Blob acting on their own here?

CN: That's the question, isn't it? There is an evil guiding hand behind everything, and it probably won't be too tough to figure out who it is. The greater mystery is why? And I'm not telling...

NRAMA: And the timing – are you looking at a throughline that connects each issue?

CN: Each issue occurs in a separate time period, and can stand alone as a done-in-one story, though there is a larger through-line that will pay off in #4. Taken all together, the four issues examine how Spidey and the X-Men--and their relationship--have changed over the years.

NRAMA: Any teasers as to what gets things rolling in the first pages?

CN: Kraven gets out of jail and goes on TV, announcing that to atone for his misdeeds, he's going to bring in Spider-Man once and for all, saving the citizenry from this menace who he's discovered is not just an outlaw...but a mutant. The X-Men know Spidey isn't a mutant, but if he's going to be persecuted for being one, they want to help. So they journey to Manhattan and try to find the web-head...end up in the Coffee Bean...and things get wild!

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