“Spider-Island” [click the link to read part one of this interview] gets started later this month with a prelude in the ominously numbered Amazing Spider-Man #666, but believe it or not, there’s a lot more going on in Spidey’s life on top of everyone in Manhattan getting Spider-Powers similar to his.
He’s also a member of the Future Foundation — the group formed by the remaining members of the Fantastic Four following the Human Torch’s death — and two Avengers squads. He’s got a full-time job and a girlfriend named Carlie Cooper who happens to be a forensic detective, making keeping his identity a secret a constant challenge.
Recently, he’s had to team up with former arch-nemesis Eddie Brock — once Venom, now the sort-of-heroic Anti-Venom — to stymie the threat of Mr. Negative, and encountered what looked to be the ghost of former police captain Jean DeWolff (whose death story is one of the most acclaimed in Spider-Man history).So there’s a lot going on, and a lot on the horizon, and in the second part of our latest chat with Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott, we talked about all of it, including more details on the forthcoming “Spider-Island” event.
[Newsarama note: This interview was conducted before the release of Amazing Spider-Man #665, on sale now.]
Newsarama: Dan, it seems that with Spider-Man on both the FF and two Avengers teams, plus having a job and solo adventures, you're planning on directly addressing the toll that takes — it was mentioned in #663 — as opposed to how it's always mostly been shrugged off when someone brings up Wolverine being in so many titles at once.
Dan Slott: Wolverine's got a healing factor! Who needs to sleep?Interior art from
Cloak & Dagger #1.You're going to see that come to a head in the issue right before Spider-Island. Something really big is going to happen in issue #665. And it’s all from the fallout of Peter/Spidey’s life being spread too thin.
Look, I was the guy who said "Hey! The Human Torch died, Spidey should take his place!" I approached Jonathan [Hickman] about that. "Jonathan, would you like to do this?" Part of that was me being very greedy, and going, "I love the FF. That would make them supporting cast members in my book! And I could play with ‘em whenever I want!"
Nrama: It does seem that before the current two-part arc that just wrapped, that there were a lot of other heroes guest starring —readers didn't get a chance to see quite as much of the supporting cast. Is it a tough balance to use so many different characters and still keep it at its heart a Spider-Man story, and not a Spider-Man team-up book?
Slott: When you look at our first few arcs that we've done, we have the opening arc with Hobgoblin, that was very much Spider-Man, Black Cat, and Hobgoblin. There was an Avengers cameo near the top.
Then we had the Spider-Slayer arc, and there was a guest appearance by the New Avengers near the end. And from that, we went to a very spider-centric "No One Dies." Then coming out of that, we've done a six-issue arc where Spider-Man has had some team-ups. Four issues with the FF, and two issues with the Avengers Academy.
Coming out of that, we specifically wanted to do a street-level Spider-Man story. Now we're refocusing. Even when you're walking into “Spider-Island,” there's going to be a lot of characters, and a lot of people doing stuff, and there will be guest stars popping in, but it's very much at its heart a Spider-Man/Peter Parker story. And he is very much in the lead. You will see lots of stuff going on with the Spidey supporting cast.
Nrama: And with Spider-Man on these teams, and a threat as major as "Spider-Island," it really only makes sense that the Avengers and the FF would show up at some point.
Slott: Oh, totally. With “Spider-Island,” one of the main characters of all of Spider-Island is Manhattan itself. This is really a New York story. In my mind, the New Yorkers are almost more important than the Avengers, or the FF.
Nrama: Right, by the nature of the story it'll affect average folks to an even greater degree than heroes and villains.
Slott: It's really neat, because if you read “Spider-Island,” you come to New York, you will be able to find everything that you saw in this book. This whole arc is also kind of a love letter to Manhattan, and Humberto Ramos is going in there and drawing the hell out of all this New York reference — and doing it all by hand, no scanning, no photoshop, no tracing, no nothing—just pure penciling chops!Interior art from
Love New York
City one-shot.You can even see kind of a tease of that in the Free Comic Book Day issue. You can look at any of those shots of Spidey and Spider-Woman fighting along Fifth Avenue, and everything's really accurate, with all the backgrounds. All the places they're fighting, everywhere they're going to — man. That's there. I can't namecheck places because they're trademarked, but you can walk around and go, "Oh my god, that's that building! And that's that building! "
Nrama: Wanted to ask about the storyline that just wrapped — it's neat to see Anti-Venom, who hasn't really been around much since transforming into that form in "New Ways to Die."
Slott: There was a miniseries by Zeb where he teamed up with the Punisher, and there was also a done-in-one story by myself and Chris Bachalo, and in that Anti-Venom one-shot story, he learned that Martin Li was Mr. Negative.
One of the things you're going to see going into Spider-Island is that Venom and Anti-Venom will have roles to play.
Nrama: You're also went way back, invoking Jean DeWolff and Wraith, characters that haven't even really been mentioned in the Spidey books in years.
Slott: Marvel Team-Up! I was a Marvel Team-Up kid growing up. There were times I liked Marvel Team-Up more than Spider-Man, because you got Spider-Man and somebody.
I loved the whole Brian DeWolff/Wraith arc. I like that Jean didn't go away, I liked that she stayed this running character in the book.
Nrama: When you're writing a story like that, are you concerned at all about alienating newer readers when referencing stories that started in the '70s?
Slott: As long as you bring people up to speed, as long as you're clear in the story who these people are, why not have fun with Spider-Man's history? It's all still there. You've got, man, almost 50 years of history, ranging over multiple titles!
In this day and age, where we have resources like Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, to me that's kind of the fun. If you read this stuff in the current comics, maybe you'll want to go back and read some of the older stuff. Dig into the libraries, if you're a new fan. Wouldn't that be great? You see Charlemagne in ASM #655, and maybe you think "I want to try out that Spider-Man/Wolverine one-shot."
One of the things I'm hoping to do with the guys at Marvel — there are quite a number of stories in Marvel history where people have gained Spider-Powers and we're going to see if we can get some of those linked up on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
Nrama: I never quite understood the idea that mentioning older stories turn off newer readers. I was the opposite way as a kid — if a story that I wasn't familiar was mentioned, or a character that I hadn't heard of before show up, I'd want to find out as much as I could about it.
Slott: I was the same way. You would have all these stories — especially stuff written by guys like Roy Thomas, or Steve Englehart, or Marv Wolfman — where in the middle of the story there would be a one-panel flashback. Then there'd be one of those wonderful yellow editor captions. "See Fantastic Four #124." "Ooh, I want to check that out." Or, if anything, it made you feel that you were in this world that was on a foundation of continuity. Continuity can be there to help you. It doesn't have to alienate you. It can be the foundation you stand upon, not a thing you get mired in — if you do it right.
Nrama: I think no matter what that's always been a huge part of the appeal of superhero comics — the fact that they do all fit together and that one thing leads to another, it's not just a bunch of one-shot stories.
Slott: I was really happy that in #655, we were mentioning the Spider-Man/Wolverine, the Scourge of the Underworld wiping out people at the Bar with No Name, and then the very next page, there's the Sentry ripping Carnage in half, from New Avengers #1. It's all one big tapestry. As long as you play fair, and as long as you bring people up to speed while you're mentioning it, it just shows you how rich the Marvel Universe is.
Nrama: One thing that's been a new element introduced recently is in Peter's relationship with Carlie, where he once again has to lie to his girlfriend all the time — with the added twist that she's a forensic scientist and detective.
Slott: That is the worst girlfriend for Spider-Man to have-- and keep a secret identity. [Laughs.] Here's my girlfriend who picks up on any clue and solves it — "Oh my god, why am I dating this woman? This is not making my life easier!"
Nrama: How fun is that to write? That was one of the hallmarks of a lot of early Spider-Man stories — him having to sneak around — and that element was gone for decades when he was with Mary Jane.
Slott: Secret identities are weird, because we understand why the heroes have to have them. If they don't have them, their enemies can get to their loved ones, and yadda, yadda, yadda. But at the same time, it makes all of our noble and heroic characters liars. And that's interesting. That's a neat dichotomy. So much of a relationship is trust, but with him, it's also the extra level of, "I don't want you thrown off a bridge. That's No. 1 on my list of things about me caring about you. Please don't let get thrown off a bridge because of me." I think there's a card for that at Hallmark.
Nrama: Speaking of seemingly ill-fated relationships, when are we going to see more develop between Phil Urich and Norah Winters?
Slott: Yeah, it's been going places, huh? You'll have to keep reading! I would definitely check out the Spider-Island: Deadly Foes one-shot, which will have Norah, and Phil, and Randy [Robertson] in it.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!