Goofball Triumphant: Fred Van Lente on The Spot

Fred Van Lente on Spidey & The Spot

Amazing Spider-Man #589

Spider-Man has faced his fair share of super-villain failures during his tenure as Marvel’s flagship superhero: The Ringer, Chance, Rocket Racer, The Prowler, Stilt Man, The Killer Shrike, that weird Roxxon guy with the metal head that looked like an iron who shot liquid hot magma out of his hand…what was his name? Oh, yeah…Magma. The list could go on for quite some time.

In March, Amazing Spider-Man #589 marks the return of one of the most blatantly mocked villains in Spider-Man’s lengthy card of villainous dance partners—The Spot. Remember him? Black and white polka-dotted spandex and all? That’s the guy; and this time around, he’s not messing around.

Newsarama spoke with writer Fred Van Lente to talk about his upcoming work on Amazing Spider-Man #589 and the malevolent return of…The Spot.

Newsarama: What's going down in Amazing Spider-Man #589, Fred?

Fred Van Lente: As the cover subtly suggests, longtime Spidey villain The Spot returns to menace the pages of Amazing!

NRAMA: One would think the return of The Spot wouldn't be that big of a deal...

FVL: Geez. Why are you interviewing me, then? (laugh)

NRAMA: How are things going to be different for The Spot this time around?

FVL: The last time we saw The Spot for any significant period of time was in my mini-series Super-Villain Team-Up: Modok's 11, in which an eclectic team of Marvel's Least Wanted pulled off the greatest heist in the history of the multiverse. The Spot betrayed his comrades and sold their score to the Mandarin, who then promptly exiled him into his own dimension of teleporting spots.

Flash-forward to Amazing #589 and The Spot has somehow managed to return to our reality, but that harrowing experience appears to have blasted and twisted his mind.

The Spot, after all, got his powers in a botched experiment to duplicate the Cloak's teleportation ability and become a hit man for the Kingpin. So though he's usually portrayed as a clueless goofball, his ability to pop in and out of impenetrable locations at will, not to mention pull a variety of weaponry out of the spots on his own body (ick) gives him the potential to rival even, say, Bullseye, as the Marvel Universe's deadliest assassin.

And it looks like that's just what he's set to do, taking out a mob boss Spidey is also after for his own, much less lethal reasons. But in The Spot he has found a much more formidable, and, frankly, way creepier and weirder foe.

But is there even more to this scenario than that? I'd bet on it, but you have to read Amazing Spider-Man #589 to find out.

NRAMA: Is there room in comics—especially flagship titles like Amazing Spider-Man--for C-List, or even D-List, villains?

FVL: Comics fans—and, well, people in general, I guess—seem a little obsessed with rating everything to death. Maybe this is Pollyanna of me, but can't we just like the characters we like and see them used in interesting ways?

One of the great things about under-utilized characters is they have a capacity to surprise and excite us when they're used in an unexpected manner, and that's definitely what we're trying to do with The Spot here—to look at him in a different way so he can become a formidable member of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery.

NRAMA: Are there any other lesser rogues from Spider-Man's gallery of foes that you'd like to get your hands on?

FVL: I enjoy all my old cast members from MODOK's 11, which was heavily stocked with Spidey villains. My understanding is that there are plans for Puma and Chameleon currently in the works.

Steve says people constantly pitch for Rocket Racer. I love him too. Maybe I'll make that my next challenge, try and get in a Bob Farrell tale that really clicks.

NRAMA: Will readers be seeing more of your work in the pages of Amazing?

FVL: The compromising photographs of Steve Wacker in my possession would suggest “Yes”.

NRAMA: What are some of the big draws to writing an issue of Spider-Man as opposed to an issue of Hercules?

FVL: I had a lengthy run on Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, so I was a little more familiar with writing the character than Hercules. And, besides, like so many Marvel fans, Spidey is the one I grew up on and followed first as a young kid.

Except in Amazing Spider-Man, as opposed to the Marvel Adventures title, there's a lot more neck-snapping and stabbing and drug-running and automatic weapons fire.

For me, this equals fun.

And as for how Hercules might interact with Spider-Man; Hmmm...that would be kind of interesting to see, wouldn't it? We might have to see whether or not we can swing that...

NRAMA: How's it been working with Paolo Siquiera? What do you think of his work?

FVL: He draws one of best leaping, web-spinning, limb-contorting Spider-Men I've seen in a long time, and when he's fighting a guy like the Spot, who can literally throw a punch three hundred and sixty degrees around him—and multiple times at once—Paolo is exactly the kind of artist you want in charge of that battle, and, not that I'm biased or anything, I think it's one of the more eye-popping Spider-Man fights we've seen in some time.

NRAMA: Are there any characters in the Marvel Universe that you haven't had the chance to try-out yet?

FVL: You know, I've been really blessed. Between the regular Marvel Universe and the all-ages books I've done Spider-Man, the F.F., Wolverine and the X-Men, the gods, M.O.D.O.K., Hank Pym, the major horror characters, Machine Man, the Eternals...and a couple I'm doing now I can't announce just yet.

It'd be fun to do a run of the M.U. Fantastic Four. I formulated a bunch of ideas during my Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four run that weren't really appropriate to use there, but could kick ass in the regular universe.

NRAMA: Is there any chance readers will see your work in other new places later this spring at Marvel?

FVL: Yes. And in some very interesting places, too.

Newsarama dares you to decide: Which Spider-villains are in need of a “Super-Villain Makeover” the most?

Amazing Spider-Man #589 is due in stores on March 18th

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