Maybe that Chameleon wasn't such a bad guy after all...
In last week's issue of Amazing Spider-Man, the final issue in the "Red-Headed Stranger" storyline that saw the return of Mary Jane Watson and a revamped Chameleon, Peter Parker's life had a few resolutions.Mayor J. Jonah Jameson was confronted with the errors he's made pursuing Spider-Man, Harry's homeless situation was at least temporarily fixed, Peter's relationship with MJ took a positive (and revealing) turn, and the anger Peter was getting from his roommate Michele has disappeared. Of course, what replaced Michele's anger might be a problem...
And as readers found out, this is all leading up to "The Gauntlet," the story that officially begins in November as Spider-Man's worst enemies return and one villain unites them.
But this week, readers finally get to read Amazing Spider-Man #605, the "epilogue" to Red-Headed Stranger that includes the all-Mary Jane story about what she's been doing and why she decided to come back to New York City. But as Fred Van Lente told us last week, there's more to the issue than just Mary Jane.
"There's one full-length, 22-page Mary Jane story drawn by Javier Pulido, and he just knocked it out of the ballpark. And it also brings back another Spider-Man villain, the White Rabbit," Van Lente told Newsarama of Issue #605. "And there's a linking story that deals with even more ramifications of the Chameleon thing, that I wrote and Luke Ross drew. And then Brian Reed did a Spider-Man dating story that is the third story. It's long, but it's not quite 22 pages. So it's an uber-sized issue."
Before we find out more about Reed's "dating" story, it's time to check in with Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker about what happened last week and what Spider-Man fans are getting in Issue #605 as we bring you the Weekly Webbing.
Newsarama: Steve, this week's issue of Amazing Spider-Man is $3.99. Care to give us a run-down of everything we're going to get for that price point?
Steve Wacker: 48 pages of story, plus your handy dandy official Amazing Spider-Man recap page written by Manhattan's own child of wealth and privilege Tom Brennan. And a letter column by me. So really 50 pages. And how am I repaid? By the love of Newsarama.Page from ASM #608 Nrama: We aim to please. What made you guys want to do an oversized issue for these stories?
Wacker: I like big comics in general. A few years back before I worked here, Marvel was doing these 100-page Monster issues full of new stuff and reprints. It was a giant, loud package that never seemed to end... sort of like Brevoort if he were a comic book.
In addition, I was always a fan DC's Annuals and 80-page giants, so when we get a chance to do one of these bigger comics, I tend to jump at it...though I always end up hating 6-months-ago Steve who agreed to it..
For this particular issue, we had planned to do another of the Amazing Spider-Man: Extras that we had been running a few times a year. Those comics laid out some back-story that I figured our most avid readers would be interested in. The focus on this particular Extra was going to be on MJ as well as Pete's private life, but in all honesty we looked at the numbers on those first few Extras and realized that it might be a better idea to fit the stories into the regular series, particularly since both the stories served as a nice epilogue to Fred Van Lente's Chameleon story, as well as a nice coda to the return of MJ.
So like most decisions, it was a little business and a little creative.
Nrama: Let's talk about what we saw last issue. Was that an extra-special kiss Chameleon gave Michele? (If so, can I get this guy's phone number?) Or is her enthusiastic reaction to that kiss more reflective of Michele's personality?
Wacker: Ah...my favorite internet controversy of the weekend.
Nrama: You saw where I was going...Wacker: Michele, in her appearances so far, has proven herself to not only be an intelligent match for Pete, but also we've seen she has an extremely volatile personality (which I've seen some fans suggest as some sort of comment on all Latina women which is as about as simplistic an assertion as I can imagine). She moved into Pete's apartment after her brother went to jail in a police cover up during Character Assassination. She's a lawyer and has some money which creates a very different dynamic for Pete at a time when he's found out the woman he loved has moved back into his life. At a moment of weakness for both of them, things turned romantic.
What we've seen in Fred's current story is that Chameleon tricked Michele in their kitchen by pretending to be Pete and taking advantage of their recent history. Some readers have imagined more than is on the page, but we'll come to find out the truth in this week's issue. Suffice it to say, Michele isn't as "easy" as some readers seem to think.
Now Pete has made a decision to not fully explain the truth. But Pete will do that from time to time, and he's not always right to do so. And while I know some readers disagree, I like a Pete that makes mistakes. I don't consider him to be Mr.. Perfect, but when he does make a bad decision, there should be consequences.
On top of that, Michele's intense frustration and anger over the last few issues may have been born out of some real feelings for Pete, so we'll see where it leads over the coming months.
My apologies for those who need all the answers now or who want to suggest more went on than the story actually showed. The ability some have to work up into a froth is always exciting to watch.
Nrama: Then let's move onto another froth-inducing subject. Now that it's been revealed that Peter knows that MJ knows he's Spider-Man (wow, what a mouthful), will there be more details about "who knew what when" in this week's issue?
Wacker: Somewhat. You'll get a few blanks filled and find out about MJ's new job as well. Pete also gets hit hard.
Nrama: We heard about Fred's upcoming issues last week, and now it's time to talk to Brian Reed about his story in this week's issue. But before we do, is there anything else you want to tell readers about what's coming up for Spider-Man?
Wacker: If #601 made you sick and #602 made you give up Marvel Comics for good (and you mean it this time!!) and #604 has made you give up reading altogether, then #606 and #607 will make you light your hair on fire and interrupt the VMAs in protest.
And finally to answer [DC Executive Editor Dan] DiDio's question, instead of comics for a dollar, I would make all comics the same price as what ever issue they were on. So, for example, the newest Action Comics would cost $880. Sure, it's expensive, but you only need to sell a few of 'em. Think of what you'll save in printing!
I live to help.
Now here's Buxom Brian Reed, co-author of ASM #605, with the rest....Nrama: Brian, how did it come about that you're doing a story for Amazing Spider-Man?
Reed: This one came from Steve Wacker asking me if I'd be interested in writing a story about Peter trying to get a date. And from there, I started playing with the idea that Peter's not gone out and gotten himself a date. So he clearly needs somebody to kind of give him that push. So I had Harry Osborn buy him a membership on an online dating service, and then Harry is sitting on the couch with Peter forcing Peter to find someone to date. And this whole story is just one long, comedic beat going on of Peter and these terrible dates.
Nrama: So he ends up doing this through the internet dating service?
Reed: Yes. And it's an internet dating service that it's heavily implied that Harry has some history with.
Nrama: And how long is your story? A little shorter than a whole issue, right?
Reed: Yeah, but it's a little more than half the issue. I think it's 16-18 pages long.
Nrama: You must have had to really think about how Harry and Peter interact. What do you think makes them work so well as friends?
Reed: I think what makes them work so well is they are different. In Harry's mind, Peter is the regular guy. And Harry wants that to ground him. He wants that normal person to hang out with -- never imagining what's really going on with Peter. And for Peter, Harry is this guy that he's known all his life, and he feels like he has to protect even from himself. And it turns out that they're great fun to write together because they're so different, and as soon as you put them into the room together, they just start playing off each other. And it was a blast.
Nrama: Do you get to see Peter as Spider-Man in your story?
Reed: Yes. In fact, his life as Spider-Man and the repercussions it has on his dating in the past is something I really wanted to talk about since we were getting into, why doesn't Pete have a girlfriend right now?
Nrama: Is Michele in your story? It's implied in last week's issue that they're a "couple" now.
Reed: Yep, she's involved.
Nrama: Will we see MJ at all?
Reed: Not in my half of the comic. But she's the elephant in the room. She's definitely mentioned. And she's part of the driving of all of this. But she's not physically present either. But of course, she is in Fred's half of the story.
Nrama: You've written the Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-Man mini-series, as well as the Sinister Spider-Man story. And we've seen you write Spider-Man in video games and other comics, like his interaction with Ms. Marvel. Now you're back with more Spider-Man. Is this something you're pursuing? Something you enjoy in particular?
Reed: Yeah. This is why I got into comics. It's like, "I want to play with Spider-Man." So each and every chance to do that is great for me, and I have a blast doing it.