Marvel Preview : AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #602

Peter Parker's meeting with Mary Jane may not have gone quite as planned in Amazing Spider-Man #601, but Newsarama will not be denied another installment of the Weekly Webbing.

Although it will surely break countless hearts among Newsarama readers, Marvel editor Steve Wacker won't be joining us this week, so we're forcing Spidey's Assistant Editor Tom Brennan to take a turn.

We talk to Tom (and friends) this time about everything from MJ to Michele to Menace. So we'll turn things over to Tom for introductions...

"Greetings, the Internet!

"With the Wack away, the humble, handsome, hip young assistant can play. Yes, it's me, Tom Brennan, letters page punching bag and defensive specialist on his Sunday Night Trivia team, and I'm here to field questions from you (points to the camera) the reader. Steve's on vacation this week, so your desire for Rick Springfield jokes and Cheers references will have to wait until next week. I shall, as my fellow hip young people say, "cut to the chase" and get to your questions. Take it away, fellow net-savvy, hip young people!"

Newsarama: Tom, now that it's established MJ knows that Peter is Spider-Man, are we going to be learning more about that revelation anytime soon?

Tom Brennan: MJ knows Peter is Spider-Man? Says who? Last couple pages of #601 only shows that she knows Spider-Man saved the day over at the Empire State Building -- Peter always gets the best photos of Spidey saving the day, right? So maybe she's referring to that with her smile.

The answers about what happened between MJ and Peter will have to wait just a bit 'cause The Gauntlet (and the events that precede it) won't give Pete much time to breathe, let alone tackle the many issues he has with MJ.

But the story of Pete, MJ and what happened in between Civil War, OMD, and the Amazing Spider-Man that you read thrice a month is coming -- we just got a few pages from the top secret art team last night. We can't announce it just yet, but yes, all your answers will be revealed in due time -- and the right folks to tell the story have been tapped.

Nrama: Well, walk through this with me now just so we're clear. Everyone who knew Peter was Spider-Man before the beginning of Brand New Day no longer knows his secret identity unless he's since unmasked for them, right? Like he did for the Fantastic Four and New Avengers?

Brennan: That is correct. As we've said since day one, Amazing Spider-Man #546, people remember he unmasked but they don't remember the face they saw. The nuts and bolts of what happened -- and how it happened -- will be in the aforementioned top secret story.

Nrama: Until that "top secret" story happens, can I at least ask if it's possible that Peter unmasked for MJ sometime since Brand New Day that we didn't see?

Brennan: Whether that happened or not, wouldn't you rather read it in a comic than have some handsome, hip assistant editor give you the play-by-play? MJ's a big presence in the book in the months to come -- let's leave it at that.

Nrama: Okay, but the fact that he's so surprised to see her certainly indicates he hasn't seen her for a long time, certainly not in a way intimate enough to have unmasked for her. So... doesn't this pretty much confirm that she was somehow left out of Mephisto's magic?

Brennan: Who's Mephisto?

Nrama: Moving right along... in this issue, there's a blackout at the Empire State Building and the generators blow out and the whole 14th floor catches fire, but no explanation? Does this disaster tie into anything we've already seen or are going to see?

Brennan: Good eye, Rogers. This does come into play throughout the Gauntlet, as does The DB, which you may have noticed, has fallen on hard times -- wowsers, think about this for a second: crumbling infrastructure? Newspapers losing money left and right? The Spidey books are as with-the-times as you get in comics. Give us an issue of the day and we'll tackle it. Cancel the Gauntlet -- I'm digging out my pitch for Jon & Kraven plus Seven'!

Nrama: One of the big surprises this issue happened right up front when Peter wakes up the day after Aunt May's wedding. Obviously, Michele remembers more about what happened after the wedding than Peter does. Is this whole question of why he woke up in bed next to her going to be revealed or at least explored more? Or is it just another reason for Michele to hate his guts?

Brennan: Well we're not leading up to a big story arc over it if that's what you're saying -- "ONE NIGHT STAND -- OF DEATH!" parts 1-6 isn't in the offing -- what you think happened is pretty much what happened. But the repercussions ain't going away and it's not going to help the already complicated relationship Pete and Michele have with one another.

Michele's one of the more interesting gals to pop up in Pete's life -- she doesn't think he's funny, she doesn't find his seeming lack of responsibility endearing nor his unemployable ways indicative of a loveable loser. She sees Pete as a bottom feeding mooch, so when you factor in the double life Peter Parker leads with so unpredictable and unstable a personality type as Michele, you can safely assume things are only going to get worse before they get better...if they get better at all.

Nrama: In the story by Brian Michael Bendis, is Jessica's implication that she's getting back in costume something we'll see in Amazing Spider-Man eventually? Or will that only come to fruition in Brian's title?

Brennan: That'll be covered more in the pages of New Avengers. Who's the guy who works on that book? Brevoort? Chop-chop, make with the answers! The people need to know, and I, being a hip young member of the people demand you give them their due information! Or better yet, send a fellow hip, young person to do it:

"Hip & young" Associate Editor Lauren Sankovitch: As announced at last weekend’s Chicago Comic-Con, over in the New Avengers Annual coming up in December, the New Avenger ladyfolk will be saving the day…and you’ll notice a certain beJEWELed someone front and center on the cover.

Nrama: Bejeweled? You two are hip and young! Okay, Tom, we had a pretty big revelation in Issue #599 that Norman has a new baby coming. But with the Gauntlet around the corner and the (implied by Issue #600) upcoming meddling by the Kraven family, it seems like the Spider-Man title is moving on to other things. Will Norman's parenting story and Spider-Man's vendetta against him be picked up again in Amazing Spider-Man?

Brennan: "Will we ever find out about this?" "Will we ever know about that?" Don't you guys believe in letting a story play out? I'd love to see Newsarama's report on the first five minutes of Citizen Kane. "Why'd he say Rosebud? Is it his sled? It's his sled, right?!" The Kravens play a big part in the stories you'll see this year, even before the Gauntlet. They're pulling some major strings in the Gauntlet -- outright pulling the strings with some new cases and allowing bigger pieces to tumble into place in others. They have a plan -- one they've been working on since well before Ana Kraven made her debut last year. And it involves the villains we'll be seeing and some other faces you wouldn't expect. Remember what Madam Web discovered -- they're hunting Spiders.

As far as Norman and Lily go -- well, Normie's a bit busy throughout the rest of this year, what with controlling the world and such, but American Son's effects will be followed up when Norman and Spidey go head to head one more time in Dark Reign: The List -- Amazing Spider-Man. Spidey's an integral part of Norman's plans for his new world order -- stay tuned.

Nrama: In this week's issue, we've got the debut of the Chameleon. What can you tell us about what we'll see with this character and this week's issue?

Brennan: Chameleon's taken a much more serious tact in how he uses his abilities -- and who he uses them for. Fred Van Lente will be exploring this in great detail. It's a really exciting storyline -- Fred tells this story as much from Peter Parker's point of view as he does the Chameleon's point of view.

It's so rare we get to explore these worlds from the bad guy's perspective. You don't find yourself agreeing with him or understanding him necessarily -- but he's a very no-nonsense, business oriented bad guy at this point, so his matter-of-fact attitude, especially compared with Pete's conflicted angst, makes for a very engaging bad guy -- he really gets under your skin (pun not entirely intended)

Nrama: Anything else you want to share with readers? With Steve gone, this is your chance...

Brennan: This is the part where y'all expect me to give a sarcastic essay on the letters column pot-shots, right? Well no dice, interwebs! I like my paying gig, and until the government fixes health care, I'm sticking with the guys who give me coverage.

It's a blast working on the Spider-Man books -- we're really using our best resources to cover every angle. If you want to get a bit more into the reign of Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, go pick up The Sinister Spider-Man mini-series by Brian Reed, Chris Bachalo & Rob DiSalvo, where he's matching wits with Mac Gargan. If you want to find out about the villains and players coming back into Pete's life this year, I humbly submit The Web of Spider-Man ongoing, which will kick off by exploring the origins of the villains you'll see in The Gauntlet: How did they become so boldly bad, and what is their perspective on the paths they've chosen? (It's also the new home to The Spectacular Spider-Girl, by the unstoppable team of DeFalco & Frenz.)

I also want to turn this question over to the unsung hero of thrice-monthly Spider-Man, our letterer Mr. Joe Caramagna. He's an unstoppable machine of lettering goodness who is at his desk to the very last minute that we send out a Spider-Man issue, making tweaks and changes as we see fit (and making some timely saves and catches of his own.) He's also a writer of his own comic books -- his Iron Man & the Armor Wars is on sale now! Joe, what would people not know about this book? Besides how handsome I am?

Joe Caramagna: I think what most people wouldn't know about, and would be surprised about, is how meticulously planned and coordinated the issues are, yet how spontaneous a lot of things are at the same time. For instance, I have files for issue #612, and that won't go to print for another three months, yet the books are still being changed ... modified ... developed, etc. all the way up to the day it has to be finalized. All of these issues are being worked on at once! It's a strange combination of planning and spontaneity.

Brennan: You did not mention how handsome I am. You've failed me. Back to your lettering cage!

Nrama: And if that doesn't make readers happy to see the return of Wacker, nothing will. Lucky for us, Steve sent along a photo of himself so we wouldn't miss him too much, as well as a page from Anti-Venom #1 (above). And from the looks of those covers behind Steve in his office, we'll have a lot of hints to ask him about upon his return.

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