Zeb Wells - Writing the Spider-Man/Obama Meeting

Spider-Man Meets Obama

Obama/Spider-Man: Getting the Issue
Obama/Spider-Man: Getting the Issue
A Spider-Powered Fist Bump

While a lot of attention has been given to the motivation behind this week's Obama/Spider-Man meeting in Amazing Spider-Man #583, the writer of the story said his motivation for including the president-elect in the Marvel Universe was simple: Fun.

"I could go on a long explanation about how the Marvel Universe closely resembles our own and it makes perfect sense and blah, blah, blah ... but the short answer is I think it's a lot of fun," said Zeb Wells, who wrote the five-page back-up story for the issue.

When news broke in November that the president-elect has collected both Conan the Barbarian and Spider-Man comic books, Obama was hailed by a generation of nerds for being the first Geek-in-Chief. And now Marvel Comics is responding to Obama's Spider-Man fandom by including him in a five-page back-up story in this week's Amazing Spider-Man #583, complete with a variant cover featuring the president-elect.

Steve Wacker, Amazing Spider-Man editor, told Newsarama last week: "When that news about [Obama collecting Spider-Man] came out, we were all talking about it. We got tons of questions about it. I got a bunch of j-pegs sent to me Photoshopped with Obama reading Spider-Man. So we thought, after the election, with the inauguration coming up, we decided to have him meet Spider-Man in person."

"I had to come up with an idea fast," Wells said. "Everything seemed to come together for a Spidey/Obama team up right before the holidays, so we had to work quick. I was writing a page ahead of Todd Nauck's art over a weekend, and then Steve had a few awesome suggestions for Spidey one-liners after I scripted it (my favorite being the Joe Biden/Vulture line, and I'll die before I let my parents know I didn't come up with it), so it was a collaboration under the gun, for sure."

Image from Amazing Spider-Man #583 featuring President-Elect Barack Obama
Image from Amazing Spider-Man #583 featuring President-Elect Barack Obama
Wells said the story, which is drawn by artist Todd Nauck, takes place on Inauguration Day when the Chameleon, tries to usurp the presidency from Obama. To put an end to the villain's plans, Spider-Man and Obama have to team up.

While the writer said it's not his "call" about whether the story fits into continuity, he wrote it so it could fit into Spider-Man's current circumstances. "I wrote it as more of a fun back-up than an addition to Spidey's cannon," he said. "But I definitely didn't contradict anything in the more-awesome-every-month regular series."

Wells said he's wanted to work with Nauck for a long time, and he wasn't disappointed by the experience, even though it was so rushed. "The quality of the artwork is amazing, and that's before you take into account how little time he had to draw it," he said.

With all the media attention this week's issue has been getting – from CNN to USA Today – Wells said he's grateful to have been part of the team working on the comic. "I feel very lucky to have been able to work on it with everyone involved, from Todd Nauck to Steve Wacker to Frank D'Armata and Phil Jimenez, Chris Chuckry, Jared K. Fletcher, and Todd Klein (with a quick apology to Senator Arlen Specter, who wanted to ink the story but just isn't ready yet. Keep at it, Arlen!)."

And in the end, Wells said he just really enjoyed getting to write a fun story featuring the president-elect, although he said it was very intimidating to write dialogue for Obama. "I have a lot of respect for President Obama and how he ran his campaign," the writer said. "I like how he never shied away from who he was, and always answered tough questions about mistakes in his past with candor. He didn't try to be everything to everyone, and that takes a lot of character ... more character than I have. I like being able to say that about my President."


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