The second season of IDW Publishing's Marvel Action: Spider-Man begins February 12, and in it the amazing Spider-Friends - Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, and Miles Morales - are leaving their The Daily Bugle internship between to grow as people - and heroes.
Writer Brandon Easton and artist Fico Ossio are thrusting the hero out to fight new threats - including the Shocker in the first issue.
IDW's Marvel Action line is one of the leading forces delivering new superhero stories to a younger audience - bringing kids into the fold of comic books and introducing a new generation of readers to the medium.
Newsarama had the chance to talk to Easton and Ossio about the importance of making comic books for the next generation, if they want to create a classic comic book event for their audience, and what other Marvel heroes they would like to work on for the Marvel Action line.
Newsarama: Fico Brandon, what's new with the new volume and new #1 for IDW's Marvel Action: Spider-Man?
Fico Ossio: I think the characters - Peter, Gwen, and Miles - are more comfortable in their Spidey alter-egos. They still have a lot to learn, but they have been doing this for a while now and trust each other more.
Nrama: Brandon, what made you want to jump onto IDW’s Marvel Action: Spider-Man?
Brandon Easton: Spider-Man books were my introduction into the world of comics and I have loved the character ever since my first days at elementary school. Then, with this series being similar to the Into the Spider-Verse film, I knew it was a fantastic chance to explore a new scenario with Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy, and Miles Morales. When the opportunity presented itself, I immediately threw my name into the mix of writers and was overjoyed when I was offered the project.
Nrama: The last volume ended with the three of them finishing their The Daily Bugle internship. What are Gwen, Peter, and Miles’ lives looking like now?
Easton: Right now, Gwen and Miles are preoccupied with passing an important New York State standardized exam while Peter grapples with improving his Spider-Tracer technology. As a motivated group of teens who do not enjoy or accept failure, they push themselves to be better students and heroes. In the midst of juggling school and family, they encounter the Shocker for the first time and the events of the story causes one of them to question their faith in a newfound mentor.
Nrama: Before we get into the Shocker, what can we expect from the Spider-heroes friendships?
Easton: In the first year of the series, the friendship between Peter, Miles, and Gwen has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Now, they’ve learned to trust one another and wish to become a better team of 'Spider-Friends.' As they battle the Shocker, we’ll see an increased emphasis on their teamwork strategies since the villains are becoming bolder and stronger.
Nrama: So we've got Shocker here, and we've previously seen Venom and Black Cat. Are there any other villains you’d like to put into the series or have plans for?
Easton: I’d love to write the Green Goblin, the Scorpion, Tombstone, the Tarantula, Jack-O-Lantern, and the Chameleon.
Ossio: Well, that´s the best part of Spider-Man! The rogue’s gallery is one of the coolest.
I was a bit bummed when I lost the chance to draw Venom during IDW’s "Season One." [Laughs]. But I´m super-excited about the villain of issues #4 through #6 in the new series. We´re going to bring Scorpion into the action – one of my favorites! But there´s a lot of villains to choose from: either of the Goblins (Green or Hobgoblin) would be great. Carnage… might be too dark. [Laughs]
Nrama: Why do you think middle-grade comics like the Marvel Action line are important for the comic book industry?
Easton: Great question. Without titles aimed at younger readers, there won’t be a future generation of comics fans. We’re already seeing this at our local comics shops year after year. The median age of readers continues to rise alongside a steadily decreasing population of kids getting interested in American comic books.
At least two generations of American youth have completely ignored comic books for video games, social media, and other forms of entertainment. The kids who do enjoy graphic literature overwhelmingly tend to gravitate to manga and show little interest in American superhero comics.
The success of various movies, animated series, and video games based upon American superhero properties is clear, so we know the characters and themes still matter to our audience, but there needs to be a gateway comic into the superhero genre that make it easy for younger readers to understand. That’s why the Marvel Action books are a perfect introduction to these classic characters.
Ossio: It should always be an important focus for comics professionals to bring new readers into the industry. Otherwise, the artform would eventually fade out. Starting on, say, the 789th issue of any title is overwhelming for young and new readers, so books like this present a great opportunity to jump in.
Nrama: Why do you think kids easily attach themselves to the Spider-Man franchise?
Easton: First, the visual energy. Second, similar interests and goals.
On a visual level, younger readers are attracted the bright colors and fast-action. Spider-Man comic books, movies, cartoons, and video games tend to be fast-paced, action-packed adventures with a strong moral message at the core.
On the second point, Spider-Man’s original stories are from the perspective of an awkward teenager with a heart of gold and this can describe millions of kids all over the world. Peter Parker always tried to do the best he could despite all of the obstacles thrown in his way. That kind of vulnerability and emotional honesty are universal traits that tend to connect with younger audiences still learning about their own limitations and emotional needs.
Ossio: I´ve heard it said many times and I feel the same way: Spider-Man is how all of us would be if we had superpowers. And probably the youngest of the well-known superheroes. He’s the most relatable character, especially for kids. Also… visually, his design is brilliant.
Nrama: Is there a Marvel Action crossover you’d like to see? An event series for kids?
Easton: Absolutely! I would love to develop a Secret Wars or an Atlantis Attacks event that would unite the Marvel Action characters against a powerful threat. The crossover doesn’t have to last months or require reading a large number of titles, but would allow younger readers to see more of the Marvel Action universe from the perspective of the Spider-Man characters.
I believe it would be a great way to introduce the classic Marvel characters and storylines to readers who might not have been born when these events were originally published.
Ossio: Hmm… I like the stories where Spider-Man is an outlaw, chased by the police for whatever reason… and probably J. Jonah Jameson would be to blame. So, I think a story of our Spidey trio fighting the Avengers could be fun!
Nrama: Fico, what style approach do you take for a middle-grade book, especially while tackling these iconic characters?
Ossio: Most of the style decisions intrinsically come from drawing a Spider-Man book, if not all! I think mostly, the target aesthetic comes from the ages of the characters in the book, so I focus mostly on drawing them as teenagers and try to capture that distinct feeling… similar to how Ultimate Spider-Man was. I believe in challenging kids and not underestimating them; I´m sure Brandon feels the same way, that´s why the book doesn´t skew too young but rather stays relatable to the middle-grade readers.
Nrama: Are there any bucket list Spider-Man heroes you’d like to work on for the title?
Easton: The list is far too long. [Laughs]
I would enjoy seeing more Avengers show up and join Peter, Miles, and Gwen on a big-time adventure.
Ossio: I would totally lose it if we find a way to bring Spider-Man 2099 into a story. Maybe just for one issue, some time-traveling shenanigans. I have no doubt that Brandon would find a perfect excuse! And it would be awesome. I´ve always loved that design.
Nrama: What other Marvel characters would you like to tackle for this line?
Easton: Yes, I would love to work on the Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and the New Warriors.
Ossio: I think it would be easier to name those that I wouldn’t! Okay, aside from the obvious characters, like all the Avengers and Wolverine, I was always fond of Nova. I think he would be a great addition to this line, maybe along with the Guardians of the Galaxy.