The SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN vs VENOM Battle Gage Had to Come Back For

Superior Spider-Man #22 Cover by Humberto Ramos & Edgar Delgado
Credit: Marvel Comics

For events, it’s hard to live up to the hype – but Superior Spider-Man has been able to do that and then some. And now the series is prepping for its big event of the year – “The Darkest Hour” beginning in November’s Superior Spider-Man #22. In this new arc, series writer Dan Slott welcomes back artist Humberto Ramos and co-writer Christos Gage in the first meeting between Superior Spidey and Venom.

Now you might say that Spider-Man and Venom are old friends, but there’s different men inside each suit – Doctor Octopus has taken over the body and the guise of Spider-Man, while Venom has a new host in the former of Parker-pal-turned-Military-vet Flash Thompson. All bets are off in terms of what could happen, and Newsarama spoke with Christos Gage about this pivotal upcoming clash and just whose “Darkest Hour” this arc will ultimately become.

Superior Spider-Man #22 Interior by Humberto Ramos & Victor Olazaba
Superior Spider-Man #22 Interior by Humberto Ramos & Victor Olazaba
Credit: Marvel Comics

Newsarama: Hot off the heels of the Superior Spider-Man Annual #1, Christos you’re returning to the main Superior Spider-Man title for an arc launching in November titled “Darkest Hour.” What brought you back?

Christos Gage: I talked to Dan Slott, Steve Wacker and Ellie Pyle about co-writing this arc back when I was working on the last one, “No Escape,” in Superior Spider-Man #11-13. Dan’s writing three books a month now – two issues of Superior Spider-Man and one issue of a secret, yet-to-be-revealed title (but I know what it is and it’s gonna be awesome) – which is a bigger workload than he traditionally had, so periodically it helps if I come in and script off his plots. Dan and I have been co-writing for years now, going back to Avengers: The Initiative …we always have fun doing it, and we’ve got it down to a shorthand now, where I feel like we really play to our respective strengths, ending up with a stronger whole, like when the Eternals combine their essences into the Uni-Mind.

That’s us: one big, nerdy, neurotic Uni-Mind.

Plus I love what he’s doing with Superior Spider-Man in general, and writing the character is a blast, so I’m always up to be a part of it…especially on a storyline like this one, with Superior Spidey’s first encounter with Venom!

Nrama: Spider-Man and Venom have crossed passed numerous times, but never as Spidey-Ock and Agent Venom, Flash Thompson. What kind of fireworks can readers expect?

Gage: Big, gooey, symbiote-substance fireworks… by the brilliant art team of penciler Humberto Ramos, inker Victor Olazaba, and colorist by Edgar Delgado. So, scary and awesome and beautiful. This is my first time working with Humberto since our run on Avengers: The Initiative back during the “Dark Reign” era, and he’s only upped his game since then…he’s blowing me away with every page! Oh, and there’ll be a different kind of fireworks between Otto/Pete and Anna Maria Marconi…and our art team is excelling with those as well.

Nrama: Flash has a long history with Spider-Man –he grew up idolizing the Peter Parker version, but that’s not the one he’s meeting with here. How are you tying the history – or non-history in terms of Doc Ock & Flash meetings – into this impeding face-off?

Gage: It’s a big part of the story. When Otto removed all traces of Peter’s mind from his, he basically lost any chance to “read” any of Pete’s memories that he hadn’t already looked at. And he hadn’t had any reason to recall Pete’s friendship with Flash. So when Otto/Pete encounters him, he has no idea who Flash Thompson is…though it’s clear Flash knows him. Which means there’s a danger of his secret being exposed. And we know Otto will go to great lengths to protect his secret…

Superior Spider-Man #22 Interior by Humberto Ramos & Victor Olazaba
Superior Spider-Man #22 Interior by Humberto Ramos & Victor Olazaba
Credit: Marvel Comics

Nrama: And you also have the added catalyst of the Venom symbiote being in on this, who isn’t on the best terms with Spider-Man – no matter who’s inside it. What’s the Venom symbiote thinking in all of this?

Gage: That’s the wild card. It’s not a human being, it’s an alien, whose thought processes we can’t possibly understand. When Peter magically erased the memory of his secret identity from the minds of everyone in the world, did that include the symbiote? It has a new host…how does it feel about its old one?

Nrama: Seeing Superior Spider-Man come up against the Venom symbiote, another creature who unsuccessfully tried to gain control of Peter’s body, is an interesting idea. What can you say about that?

Gage: It brings up some interesting questions. Does the symbiote remember its former host? Does it remember that he’s Peter Parker…does a creature like this even grasp the concept of a “secret identity?” And whether it does or not, will it sense that there is something different – something off – about its former host now? How will it respond? That’s a huge part of the story.

Nrama: Dan Slott told us back in July that this arc also promises to feature cult favorite medical robin hood Cardiac. Tell us about that.

Gage: We’ve seen that Cardiac, in his civilian identity as Dr. Elias Wirtham, has taken over the former FEAST center and opened a clinic for those who need medical care they can’t afford or otherwise get. Superior Spider-Man has both clashed with, then helped Cardiac in pursuit of this goal. They parted on good terms, and will open this story the same way. As for whether they’ll stay on good terms, well…wait and see.

Nrama: Last question – the arc’s title is “Darkest Hour;” who’s it the darkest hour for?

Gage: Who says it’s just one individual? Maybe it’s…everybody.

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