Amazing Spider-Man is currently in the midst of "No Turning Back," a four-part story arc co-starring movie villain The Lizard and Morbius, The Living Vampire, and series writer Dan Slott is promising that things won't slow down for Spidey as December's issue #700 looms on the horizon. First, Marvel revealed last week that the previously teased "Alpha" is in fact a new teenage sidekick for Spider-Man, introduces in a Humberto Ramos-illustrated story that touches on Spider-Man's 50-year-old origin story from Amazing Fantasy #15. After that is "Danger Zone," a story featuring Hobgoblin and his recent employer Kingpin, and following that, it's all about Amazing Spider-Man #700, which Slott is promising to be big. How big? "In the 20-odd years I've been working in this industry, I have never done something as big to a character as what we're doing to Spider-Man in #700," Slott told Newsarama. Read on for more from our conversation with the writer. [Newsarama note: This interview took place before "Alpha" was announced last week.] Newsarama: Dan, coming out of "No Turning Back," there's plenty more coming up, including "Who is Alpha?" and a Hobgoblin arc that you've hinted towards?
Dan Slott: Right after "No Turning Back" we do our 50th anniversary story, which starts with the 50th anniversary of Amazing Fantasy #15. It's a three-parter that introduces Alpha. And then we hit our big Hobgoblin arc.
Nrama: In terms of the anniversary stuff, you've said in past interviews that the story revisits Amazing Fantasy #15, correct?
Slott: It finds something to resonate with, with Amazing Fantasy #15, that hasn't been done yet in the 50 years of Spider-Man. That is a story that really has been mined for every single scrap, so we've actually found something that gets to the heart of that story — and have mined it and produced "Alpha."
Nrama: Going back to the origins of a character — those are words that make fans nervous.Slott: Totally. There are things that happen that, as a fan, drive me crazy, like when they say, "Maybe it wasn't because the spider was radioactive." "No, it was!" [Laughs.] See? It said it in the comics. Genetically altered? No! Magical totemistic… ? No! Radioactive spider.
I have so much love for the origins. I always want to touch on stuff without doing any damage to the origin story. In issue #665 we had a scene that touched on Amazing Fantasy #15, where Aunt May is asking Peter, "Where did you go that night? I lost my husband, and the boy who was like a son to me ran out into the night when I needed him most. Where did you go? What was more important than staying home and comforting me?" That was something that was never said in Amazing Fantasy #15; it's one of those things everyone turned a blind eye to. I think by exploring that we added to it without diminishing it. We let the original story stay sacrosanct, but yet we were able to examine a facet that hadn't been looked at before. In that same vein, we are playing with something from Amazing Fantasy #15, while leaving the story untouched and perfect, in all of its glory.
Nrama: So people should start re-reading Amazing Fantasy #15 and looking for clues.
Slott: Yes! Everyone should re-read Amazing Fantasy #15, all the time. It's one of the greatest comic book stories ever made.
Nrama: We've talked before about how you like to balance out Spider-Man arcs, and it looks like after the massive scale and guest stars of "Ends of the Earth," you're back in the mode of focusing on Spidey-centric stories with him as a solo act, it seems.
Slott: Yeah. Now that "Ends of the Earth" is over, we are really narrowing the focus back to Spidey. There are moments where it'll feel like a Morbius team-up, but Morbius is a Spider-Man character. You're going to get Spider-Man, Morbius and the Lizard in "No Turning Back." You're going to get Hobgoblin, and Kingpin, and some surprises in "Danger Zone." With "Alpha" we will see some of the Marvel Universe, but it's really a story about Spider-Man and Alpha, this character he is directly responsible for.
After that, it's just a hop, skip and a jump to #700.
Nrama: Though it's still months away, you've already started to really raise the bar in terms of expectations with something big happening in that issue.
#691 cover.Slott: It cannot be raised enough! #700 is big. What I can clearly say is that in the 20-odd years I've been working in this industry, I have never done something as big to a character as what we're doing to Spider-Man in #700.
I'm very serious — after #700 comes out, I'm not doing interviews for a bit. I'm not sticking my head up out of the hole. People are going to be like, "What have you done?" and the message on my machine will just say, "Keep reading."
Nrama: So is it fair to connect the dots and presume that Alpha is related to whatever happens in #700?
Slott: I will say this — once "Ends of the Earth" ended, everything has been building to #700 in some way. Every story arc has pieces of the puzzle to what's coming up in #700. I think when you get there you'll see — especially in #699 — that you've been given a lot more of these building blocks over the years than you've realized. Years!
Nrama: Just from a personal standpoint, is it surreal for you to be writing #700 just three-and-a-half years or so after writing #600?
Slott: On some level it feels like a cheat because of our compressed schedule of doing three times a month, and then doing two times a month — but just like Indiana Jones said, "It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage." The white hairs I've put on working on this book, the late nights, and the deadline crunches… the way you talk about dog years, these have been my "Big Time" years. You can cut me open like a tree and count the rings. But, dear God, each one’s worth it. It’s Spider-Man!
Nrama: It has to be a real privilege to be the guy who wrote both #600 and #700.
Slott: It is the greatest frickin' thing in my life. Working on #600, that was like my 18th issue of Spider-Man. But by the time we get #700, it'll be like my 70th. It's an honor, and I don't take it lightly.
There have been times where I'm like, "How is this comic going to get done on time?" "How is this going to make this deadline?" The things I kept holding onto was, I keep doing this, I keep giving it my best shot, and I get to be the guy who works on the 50th anniversary. I get to be the guy who works on #700. Those tent-poles were way better carrots than any stick. And now it's time to pay all this off. It's very exciting!
Nrama: It's clear at this point that in the near future, there are a lot of big creative team shifts coming at Marvel, especially with long-tenured runs. You've written a lot of Spider-Man at this point — though obviously you're having the time of your life, is it possible that maybe the end could be on the horizon, or do you still have long-term plans?
Slott: I will never leave Spider-Man willingly. [Laughs.] How could you? If you ever see me not on Spider-Man, someone had their hands tightly clamped on my ankles and dragged me off—and those long grooves in the floor? That’s where I dug my fingers in—‘cause I just didn’t want to go. But everything has to end sometime, and I'm very aware that I don't get to write Spider-Man forever. I'm very aware of that.
These are the salad days. The rest of my life, I'm going to look back and go, "That was the time I was working on Spider-Man." It's going to be very hard to top that.More from Newsarama:
- The 10 Worst SPIDER-MAN Villains of ALL TIME!
- Marvel Reveals Spider-Man's ALPHA is a Teenage Sidekick
- Dan Slott Pits SPIDER-MAN vs. Lizard in Pre-Movie Battle