Marvel Plans a Big Time 50th Anniversary for SPIDER-MAN

 

Amazing Fantasy #15 is cover-dated August 1962, meaning that Spider-Man is hitting the half-century mark this summer. And Marvel's not letting that happen without some fanfare.

It's already a busy season for Peter Parker, with The Amazing Spider-Man hitting theaters on July 3, and Marvel is making sure there are plenty of comics out specifically intended to celebrate 50 years of Spider-Man. In August, along with ongoing series including Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos's Amazing Spider-Man #692 — dubbed "the one, true 50th anniversary Issue of the Amazing Spider-Man" — and Avenging Spider-Man #11, featuring a Spidey/Aunt May team-up, the publisher is also releasing five comics, one out each week in August, celebrating different eras of the character from creators including past Amazing Spider-Man writers Roger Stern and Tom DeFalco.

Newsarama talked via email with Marvel editors Steve Wacker and Tom Brennan about these comics, how Spider-Man has changed in 50 years, and whether or not Sony's Spidey film has affected their publishing plans. Plus, courtesy of Marvel, we're exclusively debuting several pages of interior art from the anniversary books.

 

Newsarama: Steve, I'll start with a fairly broad question — with Spider-Man now continually published for 50 years, in what meaningful ways do you think the character has evolved over the years? Obviously the foundation established by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko is still present, and there have been a myriad of story developments over the years, but what do you think have been some of the most important additions to the mythos, and the character himself, over the past five decades?

Steve Wacker: Are you kidding? Nothing good happened in Spidey until 2008!

The additions that are most important are pretty self-evident. For five decades Spider-Man has been the blueprint for how to do superhero comics. Not only at Marvel, but at every publisher. Stan, Steve, John [Romita] and many others tapped into something rich and fertile. From the ever-troubled supporting cast to the never-ending parade of essential villains, they were able to time and again discover the alchemy of making Peter’s life as difficult as possible.

 

So I guess while there are many answers to your question, what strikes me most when I really think of all that those giants added in Spidey’s early years, it was the cliffhanger ending… the idea that you had to come back next issue to find out what fresh hell awaited Peter Parker… that really stands out.

Nrama: What can you share at this point about the stories in the Peter Parker, Spider-Man, Sensational Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man comics out in August? Which Spider-Man eras are being represented?

Wacker: I’m going to turn this over to my son Tom Brennan since he’s handling those issues. Tom was an important part of the book for the over 100 issues he assistant edited, and I use him as a guideline of what Peter Parker would be like if he never received spider-powers. Tom?

Tom Brennan: Peter Parker, Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man stories are set in the modern day books, but flash back to Spider-Man’s life as a teen superhero. The story in Peter Parker deals with the warehouse where Spider-Man caught Uncle Ben’s killer and a new crime that he and Norah Winters have to solve, while Web of Spider-Man reveals the first superhero team Spider-Man ever joined, the Brooklyn Avengers!

 

Sensational Spider-Man is set firmly in the Brand New Day era — a mystery that brings together Carlie Cooper and the late-New Vulture, recently offed in Punisher.

Nrama: Obviously Roger Stern and Tom DeFalco have tremendous history with Spider-Man, and Stuart Moore is no stranger to the character himself. How did this mix of writers take shape?

Brennan: Stuart, Tom and Roger are three great writers. We’re thrilled to have them be a part of this important Spider-Event. They all had great story ideas that they pitched us — stories we loved, but stories we were just never sure when or where to run. When we began planning for Spidey’s anniversary year, we knew that’d be the perfect time to tell those tales.

Roger’s handling the story in Peter Parker, Spider-Man and if anyone can bridge the gap between Spidey’s origins and the Big Time era, it’s Roger Stern. Roger’s run on the book was a landmark in our publication history, and we knew if we’re going to have an event in our anniversary year, Roger had to be a part of it. The fact that this story has to do with Spidey’s origin is icing on the cake.

 

Tom DeFalco is handling the Sensational Spider-Man two-parter, and is another writer with long ties to the book who we wanted to contribute to Spidey’s 50th. His two-parter, titled “MONSTERS!,” is really going to surprise people — it’s a much darker story than Tom normally writes, confronting real-world issues of human trafficking and kidnapping. I’m excited to see how it’s received.

Finally, Stuart Moore’s two-parter in Web of Spider-Man is some of the most fun superhero action you’ll see all year, as we meet the Brooklyn Avengers, a group of motley misfits who Spider-Man teamed with in his youth, are being targeted for death and Spidey must protect them. But, in classic Spider-Man fashion, it’s an adventure that is set against something we can all relate to — reconnecting with the friends we outgrew.

Nrama: On a similar note, what made Roberto De LaTorre, Carlo Barberi and Damion Scott the right artists for these books? And will they be emulating the visual look of the era each story is set in, to a degree?

 

Brennan: Roberto, Carlo and Damion were picked because they were the right artists for their stories. They won’t be emulating past styles much at all — that’s not really what we’re trying to accomplish here. These are great, standalone Spider-Stories in the Mighty Marvel tradition and we wanted to have the right artists.

For the Peter Parker issue, we wanted an artist who could convey a very stark, realistic situation as Peter Parker, not Spider-Man, faces down the same warehouse where his life as a hero was defined. Rob De LaTorre is one of the best artists working who can deliver that tough, gritty world we’re setting Peter Parker and Norah Winters’ story in. It’s a very cold, introspective story and we wanted someone who could put you in the moment.

In Sensational, while we’re also dealing with the very human world of organized crime, we’re also bringing on the bad guys with the Brand New Day era’s Vulture, and we wanted an artist who can balance the human dramas on the street and the high-flying super heroics in the air. Carlo Barberi knows how to play in both worlds.

 

Damion Scott seems like a little more unconventional a choice at first — I wasn’t overly familiar with his work but he was in visiting with our EiC Axel Alonso who asked the Spider-Office to look at his work and see if he’d be a right fit for anything we were working on. It instantly clicked with me that Damion would be perfect for this story. We wanted this story to be both an off the wall, fun time but also anchored by its heart, something Damion does so well.

Nrama: Also in August is Amazing Spider-Man #692, which looks to have some eclectic contributors not typically associated with Spider-Man, like Dean Haspiel, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati. Why was it important to bring in a diversity of voices to the anniversary issue?

 

Wacker: It comes down to the fact that I simply like big, celebratory issues with a lot of different contributors. I always look to the classic Superman #400 as an example of a comic that should be the blueprint for anniversary issues, a way to celebrate the heritage and future of these characters that have stood the test of time.

 

In the case of Dean’s story, as well Joshua and Nuno’s, I felt both tales were pitch-perfect illustrations of a moment in Spidey’s life and worthy of being a part of the package. I’m glad to have them be a part of our little soiree.

Nrama: Steve, the Amazing Spider-Man movie is out in just a couple more weeks, the first new Spidey five since you're been the editor of the books. How much has that affected your approach? There's an element of tie-in with the upcoming Lizard story — beyond that, is there any more consideration than usual in keeping the books accessible to potential new readers? (Which, I imagine, is always part of the goal?)

 

Wacker: I don’t really know much more about the movie than anyone reading this since Sony runs the film side for Spidey. But as you guess, with the Lizard being a part of the movie it made sense to try and schedule around that to get some of the attention onto the books. Dan had already had a notion where he wanted to take Curt Connors’ story, but wisely decided to hold off just a bit to time it in conjunction with the movie.

My big editorial contribution (if you can call it that), was to have it on sale the week before the movie opened so that retailers had it all ready to go. Genius? Or Brilliant?

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