In the first half of our post-Amazing Spider-Man #648 talk with Dan Slott, posted last week, we covered fan reaction to the first issue of the title’s new “Big Time” direction, attempted (key word: “attempted”) to clear up questions concerning the Hobgoblin’s identity, and discussed Peter Parker’s new job at Horizon Labs and his new girlfriend, Carlie Cooper.
At 39 plot-filled pages, the comic was like a highly newsworthy TV series season premiere, and left a lot to talk about — like the return of Phil Urich, Betty Brant and Flash Thompson rekindling their romance, the introduction of the new Sinister Six and the rebirth of The Daily Bugle. (Miss an issue, miss a lot, it seems.)
With #649 on stands this Thanksgiving Eve, we chatted with Slott about all of that, plus got some hints — New Venom? Power changes? — on the future of The Amazing Spider-Man.Newsarama: Another supporting character I wanted to ask about was Phil Urich, who hasn’t been seen since, I think, Loners. What prompted you to use him?
Dan Slott: Quick note: Everyone should pick up the Loners trade. Wonderful C.B. [Cebulski] series.It’s fun to keep bringing in characters who have a history with the Spidey books, and (hopefully) put new spins on them. I was a big fan of when Paul Jenkins made Randy Robertson Peter’s roommate. That was a great run. It was a way to take this character who’d been around, flesh him out, and do more stuff with him. It always kind of bugged me that guys weren’t picking up Randy and using him more in the book. I tried to force him on readers in Brand New Day when I could. I want our supporting cast to have this air of the familiar and touch on the 50-year legacy of Spider-Man. Along with Phil, we’ve also folded in John Jameson, and a more active role for Marla. One of my favorite things from the Brand New Day run was the way Fred Van Lente used Glory Grant as Jonah’s personal assistant in the mayor’s office. That was a wonderful role for her. So you can expect to see more of her too. Nrama: I think it’s somewhat surprising to see Phil Urich just because he’s associated with the Clone Saga era, and people are still not expecting to see characters from that era resurface now — even though they shouldn’t be surprised, considering that Kane was in several Brand New Day stories. Slott: And we had flashbacks to Ben Reilly too. People who haven’t read the Brand New Day stuff, who are coming back because of Big Time, I think they’re going to go, “look what I missed! This is kind of fun.” Nrama: Can we expect to see Phil play a role going forward, or was that just a one-off? Slott: You’re going to see more Phil, you’re going to see more of Randy, you’re going to see more of John and Marla. All the classic Spidey cast. A lot of characters who we haven’t seen for a while. Cover of Amazing
Spider-Man #649.Nrama: Another big development — in that same scene with Phil — was Front Line getting the Daily Bugle name … Slott: [Excitedly.] Yes! Nrama: I didn’t really expect that, but it seemed like maybe an inevitable move to position the Daily Bugle back properly. Slott: I did that for a number of reasons. You can talk to someone who hasn’t read comics in 20 years, or who’s discovered Spider-Man through the movies, or cartoons, or video games — everybody knows The Daily Bugle. It’s ingrained. Most people don’t know Front Line. Sometimes you get new writers at Marvel who haven’t read everything from the past five years, and they start turning in scripts where it’s The Daily Bugle. And then people have to correct them. “No, no, no, it’s now called Front Line.’” Also, there’s part of me that’s like, “I’m writing Spider-Man. I want The Daily Bugle, darn it!” That’s the biggest reason: I’m an old fart. [Laughs.] To me, the fun of Big Time, is that the entire toy chest is open. I get to bring in new characters and new ideas, and yet I get to have all these wonderful touchstones from things that make you happy. And keeping all the best recent changes — like Jonah as mayor of New York City … I think that was one of our best ideas in the recent run. Papers have been dying out. And you want Jonah to be a powerful foil for Spidey. You make him mayor of the city, and now you’re talking. Because Spidey is New York. More than any character in the Marvel Universe, Spider-Man is your quintessential New Yorker.
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Amazing Spider-Man #649.Nrama: But given that Peter Parker has the new job at Horizon, it seems he wouldn’t have reason to be interacting too much directly with The Daily Bugle. How much will the paper remain an important part of the comic going forward? Slott: You’ll have to keep reading. [Laughs.] There are plans within plans within schemes. Nrama: Wanted to ask one more thing about the supporting cast — the decision to put Betty and Flash back together. Slott: Because people’s lives continue. And it feels right. It was something we were slowly building. Ever since Flash had that pivotal story that Marc Guggenheim wrote [Amazing Spider-Man #574], “Flashbacks,” which, if you’re someone who’s jumping on to Spider-Man: Big Time, and it’s something you want to go back and examine, I honestly think that “Flashbacks” was one of the best done-in-one Spider-Man stories in the past 10 to 20 years. Since Flash has come back stateside, we’ve slowly done more and more stuff with him and Betty hanging out. So even though it was a surprise to people when you open that door and they’re together — everyone bought it. “Oh, of course they’re back.” Nrama: Among all the stuff that happened in #648 it also, almost incidentally, introduced the new Sinister Six. Are they going to continue to make their presence felt for a while? Slott: Doc Ock has a master plan, and you will see it building. Something I can say now is, it won’t just be building in The Amazing Spider-Man. That’s how big it is. You will see Doc Ock in other places. The Sinister Six are going to be big! Interior page from
Amazing Spider-Man #649.Nrama: One thing that I like, starting in Brand New Day and keeping in #648, is the use of Chameleon. There’s been some really great stories with the character, but most have tended to focus on his psychological issues and relationship with Kraven. So it’s refreshing to see him back to the basics, impersonating people and getting away with it. Slott: He’s one of my favorites. He is Spidey’s first super villain! I had all these plans for him, back in the day when the original Brand New Day team was myself, Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale and Zeb Wells. And then Fred Van Lente came on to the team, and he had all these ideas for the Chameleon. His Chameleon story in Red-Headed Stranger was brilliant, and his take on it was really good. So I was like, “OK, someday — later — I’ll get my hands on Chameleon. Then I’ll do my truly evil things.” I think he’s a very good fit for the Sinister Six. Especially when we see how they’re going to operate, and what kinds of things they’re going to do. That’s a really good piece in Doc Ock’s arsenal: the man who could be anyone. Nrama: And this is the first time Chameleon’s been in the Sinister Six, right? Slott: Yep. I think this is Rhino’s first time in the Sinister Six as well. Rhino’s usually on the Sinister Syndicate. Nrama: With the Beetle and the Boomerang. Slott: Rhino and Chameleon have stepped into the spots usually held for [brief pause] Kraven and the Vulture. That kind of hurt my brain. We usually ask that at cons at the Marvel Game Show, “Name all of the Sinister Six” — it’s a good stumper. It’s like asking someone to name all Seven Dwarves on the spot. Kraven and Vulture are the Bashful and Doc of the group. [Laughs.] And look, I did that with very little sleep and nowhere near a computer or Wikipedia. Interior page from
Amazing Spider-Man #649.Nrama: That’s impressive! I do think the Chameleon was in the Sinister Twelve in the Marvel Knights: Spider-Man story written by Mark Millar.
Slott: I swear to god, there was one time in one of these meetings, someone was seriously pitching Sinister 666 and to actually have six-hundred and sixty-six villains. I’m not kidding.I think at one point we talked it down to the Sinister 666 by having it be six groups of six, but that got sort of like, “36 villains? C’mon!” Nrama: Speaking of villains, there’s also the one page with Venom: you’ve already said that Mac Gargan is going to be back as Scorpion. Slott: And we’ve just shown the cover to #654, which has the Mac Gargan Scorpion on it. #654.1 shows that we’re bringing back Venom, and there will be a new host. Also, the fateful cover to #655 is up now, which is the first Marcos Martin issue. We were horribly, horribly pranking people by not mentioning that the Death of Spider-Man was Death of Ultimate Spider-Man. And then we evilly released that Marcos Martin cover. I can’t even tell you the number of message boards I saw where people were like, “Why are they doing this so close to Big Time? Why?!” That said, every arc that we’re doing, of our initial arcs of Big Time, each one moves the ball further up the field, with major changes for Spider-Man and his world. I look at those solicits for February, and they’re all on the nose. They’re trying so hard to not give stuff away, but they’re pretty much telling you, “Ohhhhh man, is February going to be an important month for Spider-Man.” You have NO idea! HUGE! Interior page from
Amazing Spider-Man #649.You get your New Venom in February. And the issue before that, gorgeous issue by Stefano [Caselli], has an event … Well, it’s like we said in the solicit, we don’t want to do a big carnival barker cry of “this will change everything forever.” But it is so pivotal — the effect of it will be felt for years and years to come. When Marcos’s issues come out, the one with that stunning cover, the event that Spidey is dealing with is so big. Marcos’s issue is really “How is Spider-Man going to function now? How is this going to work, given what happened in #654?” Nrama: And that’s the issue with a change to Spider-Man’s powers. Slott: There will be a change to the roster of Spider-Man’s powers in #654. And then you have #655. It’s a powerful issue and Marcos Martin hits it out of the park. I’ve shown my sister art from #655, and she doesn’t read comics. She knows Spider-Man vaguely because I work on it, and I’m her brother. But she saw pages from #655, and as someone who’s not even into comics, she was getting pretty choked up. Interior page from
Amazing Spider-Man #649.Nrama: That’s a lot for fans to get excited about — but it’s still pretty far away, so I’ll focus my curiosity on the Hobgoblin in #649. Slott: You look at #648, and we had stuff on every page. Things building. You’re looking at all these seeds for things coming into Spider-Man’s world. You can already tell, we’ve got a lot of stuff planned. Big developments. Changes. Major stories. And at the same time, we’re also paying things off. It’s exciting. There are big things happening — it’s called Big Time for a reason! You’re going to go, “Wow, they’re doing that now? And that?” There’s really not going to be a chance to catch your breath. This is from somebody who’s wanted to write Spider-Man since he was 8-years-old — and working with the most talented art team in comics! Oh! It’s all there in the art — Humberto [Ramos], and Stefano, and Marcos, everybody’s really pumped to be doing this. And I think it shows! What are your predictions for Amazing Spider-Man #649?