Yost Injects Humor, Frog-Man Into SPIDER-ISLAND: AVENGERS



Earlier this year, writer Christopher Yost and artist Mike McKone collaborated on Fear Itself: Spider-Man, a three-issue miniseries that captured the dire scenario New York City found itself in as a result of The Serpent and Sin's attack.

This coming Wednesday, they're once again teamed on a tie-in to a Marvel event, but this time it's a decidedly lighter story: Spider-Island: Avengers, a one-shot starring Frog-Man and Squirrel Girl, plus Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and Jessica Jones.

Newsarama talked with Yost via email about how writing these Avengers compares to his work on the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated series, the "ridiculous" visuals provided by McKone, and what role Spider-Man himself plays in the comic. (And click here for an exclusive preview of the issue!)

Newsarama: Chris, earlier this year you wrote Spider-Man within the Fear Itself event, and up next week is your entry in the Spidey-centric crossover, "Spider-Island." What's appealing to you about the "Spider-Island" high concept?

Christopher Yost: The sheer awesomeness of it. Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott and Spider-Editor Steve Wacker have really crafted something great... it starts with a slow burn, a few hints here and there, and then it explodes. New York City is overrun by Spider-Men. It's pretty great even if it were just the high concept, but the extra great thing about Dan is that he's using it to show everyone what makes Peter Parker unique, not Spider-Man. If everyone has Spider-Man's powers, how is Peter special?

Personally, though, I responded to this because of the ample opportunities to make jokes.

Nrama: Though this is part of "Spider-Island," it's an Avengers story, and obviously you're very closely associated with the property due to your status as head writer of the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated series. Did your experience on the show influence this book at all?

Yost: Yes and no. I don't see the characters in the books as different than those on the show. Just in different circumstances. The characters at their core are the same for me. Although I never got to use Jessica Jones, Frog-Man or Squirrel Girl on AEMH. FM and SG both briefly appeared in the animated Fantastic Four show I did, in an episode written by... Dan Slott.

Nrama: Now, "Spider-Island" has some fairly serious things going on, but based on the cover of this comic, and the fact that it involves both Frog-Man and Squirrel Girl, is it safe to assume that this is a smidge on the lighthearted side?

Yost: A smidge. I approach pretty much everything I do asking the questions, "Who will the heroes fight?" and "How can I inject inappropriate humor?" This is my Eisner Award-winning strategy to comics, and except for winning an Eisner, it's worked out pretty well so far. Is a comic about super-villain terrorists realizing they have Spider-powers and using them to help them blow up the United Nations suitable for lighthearted jokes? Yes.

Nrama: Speaking of Fear Itself: Spider-Man, as we were a few questions ago, you're paired here once more with Mike McKone. Since, as noted, this appears to be not nearly as dire an affair as that series, what was the experience like working with the same artist on two very different projects back to back?

Yost: Mike is amazing, I'd been a huge fan for years. So when Steve Wacker told me Mike was drawing FI:SM, I was thrilled. But because that book was so damn grim, he probably thinks I'm manic-depressive. Spider-Island: Avengers is a full 180 in tone. Pretty much everything he draws in the Avengers book is ridiculous.

Nrama: And let's get to it: Frog-Man. What inspired you to use him in this story? And how would you characterize your approach to him? Reveling in the sillier nature of the character, or taken him a bit more seriously?

Yost: Steve Wacker suggested it, and it was perfect. And honestly, Frog-Man is a great character. He's a hero. He's taking this seriously, in some ways more than the Avengers, who get caught up in their own personal stuff. But he's in full-on hero mode. If Captain America were saying the same things Frog-Man says in this issue, you'd be all, "Hell yeah, Cap!" But it's not Cap. It's Frog-Man. So, it doesn't go quite as well. Plus, Ms. Marvel is pretty intimidating for Frog-Man.

Nrama: Also, another animal-themed hero is showing up — how does Squirrel Girl, currently the New Avengers in-house nanny, fit into the plot?

Yost: Squirrel Girl is a B-thread here, but probably the best B-thread I've ever done. Her challenge here is truly terrifying. From the fun and action of the main story, Squirrel Girl gets caught in something out of a horror movie. This is really going to test her resolve.

Nrama: So we know those two characters are in the book, and reasonably one can assume that Hawkeye, Jessica Jones and Ms. Marvel are too, based on the cover. Does that cover the main cast?

Yost: Yep, that's pretty much it. Sure, Iron Man, Cap and Thor sell books, but honestly, they're covered. They're going to be OK if they don't show up in every single book. So the focus here is on Ms. Marvel, Jessica, and a very annoyed Hawkeye. You know what Hawkeye finds annoying? Getting spider-powers and realizing that he's really bad at using them. And Jessica Jones gives him a lot of crap for it.

Nrama: To wrap up, though Spider-Man is obviously busy dealing with the whole Spider-Island thing, he also happens to be on different Avengers teams. Does he make an appearance in the one-shot?

Yost: Nope. This is more about how the Avengers see Spider-Man. And as they deal with a quarantine of people infected with Spider-Man's powers, they pretty much all agree that Spider-Man sucks.

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