Spi­der-Man

Just in time for the big screen Spidey se­quel, Dan Slott is res­ur­rect­ing Peter Parker in the comic book uni­verse. He tells Stephen Jewell what’s in store

Comic Heroes - - Contents -

Did you re­ally think that we were never go­ing to bring him back?” says the man who is very def­i­nitely bring­ing “him” back.

Set­tling down with Dan Slott at his ta­ble af­ter a busy day sign­ing books and shak­ing hands at Lon­don Su­per Comic Con, Comic He­roes’s con­ver­sa­tion with the Spidey scribe is in­ter­rupted by an en­thu­si­as­tic fan, thank­ing him for “bring­ing Peter back”. But it’s a tes­ta­ment to the en­thralling roller-coaster ride that the New York-based au­thor has taken read­ers on in the pages of Su­pe­rior Spi­der-Man over the past 15 months that some fans will ac­tu­ally miss see­ing Doc Ock in the wall-crawler’s trade­mark red and blue long-johns when Peter Parker makes his in­evitable re­turn from the dead in the brand new Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #1 later this month.

“I’ve al­ready got some mes­sages on Twit­ter where people are go­ing, ‘Don’t you dare kill Otto Oc­tavius!’ and, ‘Don’t bring back Peter!’” he laughs. “But that’s the beauty of it as there re­ally is no win­ning. But when we first started Su­pe­rior

Spi­der-Man last year, Tom Brevoort – who was the se­nior edi­tor of all the Spi­der-Man books back then – told me that, ‘If you’re do­ing your job right, you will get those kinds of email by the end of it. That’s when you know you’re do­ing your job right, when people say that they don’t want Otto to go.’”

The Man With The Plan

Fol­low­ing the rev­e­la­tion that a ter­mi­nally ill Otto Oc­tavius had ac­tu­ally swapped minds with his long-time neme­sis, Peter Parker ap­par­ently per­ished in De­cem­ber 2012’s Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #700’s an­niver­sary is­sue. With Doc­tor Oc­to­pus furtively tak­ing up the web-spinner’s man­tle in Jan­uary 2013’s Su­pe­rior Spi­der-Man #1, Peter’s spirit made an un­ex­pected ap­pear­ance, haunt­ing his for­mer foe in a for­lorn at­tempt to keep him hon­est. Since then, the in­creas­ingly un­hinged Otto’s Machi­avel­lian plans to take con­trol of New York’s crim­i­nal un­der­world have grad­u­ally un­rav­elled, com­ing to a head in Su­pe­rior Spi­der-Man #31’s fi­nal is­sue. “When I pitched the story to Marvel, I pitched the en­tire jour­ney of the book and there was a point where I was go­ing, ‘Here’s Act Three and at this point, you know that Peter is com­ing back,’ and now ev­ery­one wants to know how,” ex­plains Slott. “That was al­ways built into the premise and it would al­ways crack me up when­ever I’d get a fan who was mad about the book but was still buy­ing it. When I’d ask them why they were do­ing that, they would say, ‘I want to see how Peter is com­ing back!’ But they would say it as if I had never thought of that and I’d be like, ‘Dude, that’s all part of the plan!’ I to­tally get that that’s part of the ap­peal. ‘Peter’s gone, so how is he com­ing back?’”

With Spidey’s res­ur­rec­tion im­mi­nent, Slott claims that not even the most ar­dent fans have come close to guess­ing the true cir­cum­stances be­hind his even­tual rise from obliv­ion. “I’ve seen a lot of people spec­u­lat­ing on­line but no one has hit it yet,” he says. “What’s fun is that when I talk to other writ­ers who need to know what hap­pens be­cause they have to write other Spi­der-Man books, whether it’s Avengers or Chris Yost work­ing on Spi­der-Man Team-Up, I have to tell them, ‘Here’s how he

People are go­ing, ‘Don’t you dare kill Otto Oc­tavius!’ and, ‘Don’t bring back Peter!’

comes back but you’ve got to keep it a se­cret.’ When I told Yost, he paused when he heard it and was like, ‘That’s re­ally good! I’m happy with how he comes back.’ There’s also a lot of people who work with Marvel on the Marvel on­line games or the pin­ball ma­chines, so they have ac­cess to the Marvel servers. Af­ter they read Su­pe­rior

Spi­der-Man #29, a lot of them cheated and went on the servers and im­me­di­ately pulled down #30 be­cause they wanted to read it right there and then, just like any fan would. Sud­denly, I got all these notes from people go­ing ‘That was great! #30 is the best yet!’ I’m kind of wor­ried now about #31 be­cause the people who read ad­vance is­sues of #30 know too much.”

With The Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man 2 movie also hit­ting cin­e­mas this month, the time couldn’t be bet­ter for Peter’s much-vaunted come­back and the re­vival of his flag­ship book. “That was in the orig­i­nal pitch,” says Slott of the not co­in­ci­den­tal time scale. “At one point, there were people go­ing, ‘Maybe you should only do Su­pe­rior Spi­der-Man for six is­sues.’ But I was like, ‘If we’re go­ing to take the

leap, we should just take the leap, es­pe­cially with Marvel Now!, and just run with it!’ They then asked how long I could run with it for, and I said, ‘I can take this up to the movie and then the movie is when you do the re­launch.’ Then when the first sales fig­ures came in, it was like, ‘Okay, you can do it till the movie.’”

Hav­ing spent the past year or so in cor­po­real form, des­per­ately bat­tling not to be sub­merged by the ego­tis­ti­cal Otto’s for­mi­da­ble id, the Peter who re-emerges into the light of day is a very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter to the cos­tumed cru­sader who pre­ceded him. “There’ll be a mas­sive tonal change be­cause that’s how any of us would feel if we were Peter Parker and we’d ‘died’ and then come back,” rea­sons Slott. “He’s been given a sec­ond chance and if you know any­one who has had that kind of near-death ex­pe­ri­ence, when they come back they’re like, ‘This time I’m go­ing to make it work, this time I’m go­ing to stop and smell the roses and do ev­ery­thing that I wanted to do.’ There’s go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent at­ti­tude to this Spi­der-Man. He’s still go­ing to be Peter Parker and he’s the char­ac­ter that we all know and love but he’s just gone through this big thing, so there will be a dif­fer­ent take.”

The Miss­ing Sto ry

Af­ter April’s Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #1, May will see the ar­rival of Year One: Learn­ing To Crawl, a spe­cial his­tor­i­cal sto­ry­line il­lus­trated by Ramón Pérez ( Wolver­ine And The X-Men) that will harken back to Peter’s for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ences as a fledg­ling su­per­hero. “Af­ter we bring Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man back, it will be a monthly comic and si­mul­ta­ne­ously we’ll be do­ing a five-is­sue se­ries off to the side, which will be about the first 60 days of Peter Parker be­ing Spi­der-Man, start­ing from the minute that

Amaz­ing Fan­tasy #15 came to an end,” says Slott of the arc, which will be­gin in Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #1.1. “It’ll be like now he’s learned the les­son of power and re­spon­si­bil­ity and you’re go­ing to see some things that haven’t been seen be­fore: things that got cut out of the comic that weren’t in there. One thing that we’ve never seen in a Spidey comic – al­though there was a scene of it in one of the black and white mag­a­zines and we’ve also seen it in the movies – is Un­cle Ben’s fu­neral. So, ‘What

I’m ei­ther go­ing to find out how to do this or die

was that like and what was go­ing on?’ You’ll have to read it to find out.”

Most in­trigu­ingly, Slott will be in­tro­duc­ing a new, pre­vi­ously un­seen mem­ber of Spidey’s rogues’ gallery. “Who that vil­lain is and why they do what they do is re­ally fun and very the­matic to Spi­der

Man,” he teases. “In the past, when we’ve seen minis­eries like this or story arcs set in the past and there’s a vil­lain that we didn’t know about, it’s al­ways been sold with that trope of, ‘…And they were the mas­ter­mind, who was se­cretly pulling the strings!’ But this is not that. This is like, ‘What if Stan Lee and Steve Ditko had cre­ated one ex­tra vil­lain?’ Some­one in the vein of Elec­tro or Mys­te­rio. There’s this one ex­tra guy so why haven’t we seen him be­fore and what don’t we know about him? He’s not this great mas­ter­mind, he’s just an­other great Spidey vil­lain and that’s a hor­ri­ble thing to do to your artist. To go, ‘Hey, Ramón Pérez, can you de­sign some­body who looks like some­body Steve Ditko would have de­signed?’ So there’s no small chal­lenge there!”

De­scrib­ing his work as suit­ably “amaz­ing!” Slott is im­pressed with the clas­si­cal sense of com­po­si­tion that Pérez has brought to the project. “He won an Eis­ner for Tales Of Sand and any­one who has read that book knows that he de­served it as it was re­ally gor­geous,” he says of the adap­ta­tion of the Jim Hen­son property the Cana­dian-born artist did for Ar­chaia En­ter­tain­ment; it won three ac­co­lades in­clud­ing Best Pen­ciller/ Inker at the pres­ti­gious 2012 Comic In­dus­try Awards. “There’s also an eight-page pre­quel story that ap­pears in Amaz­ing

Spi­der-Man #1, which just looks re­ally beau­ti­ful. He draws the best Spi­der-Man be­cause he’s not just draw­ing the Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man you’re used to, he’s draw­ing the Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man that ex­isted in those first cou­ple of is­sues all those years ago with the big, bul­bous spi­der, the lit­tle tiny eyes and the gi­ant webs un­der the arms. It’s awe­some!”

Get Into The Groo ve

Bring­ing to mind Frank Miller and David Maz­zuc­chelli’s re­vi­sion­ist ap­proach on

Bat­man: Year One and Alex Ross’s more rev­er­en­tial work on Marvels, Slott has en­joyed putting his own sub­tle stamp on Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s sem­i­nal sto­ries. “If you look at the per­son Peter Parker was in Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #1 and #2, which is four sto­ries be­cause there were two sto­ries each is­sue, he’s a very dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter even from the char­ac­ter he is in Amaz­ing

Spi­der-Man #3, where he’s pa­trolling for crime for the first time and hav­ing these ad­ven­tures,” he says. “A lot of that is Stan and Steve just start­ing a book and try­ing to get the rhythm right, but the­mat­i­cally on some level it’s also Peter find­ing his rhythm and dis­cov­er­ing who he re­ally is. You start find­ing out that there’s a rea­son why he does those things and starts off that way as this kind of char­ac­ter. He makes that jour­ney and be­comes that char­ac­ter and this is that story.” Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #1 is pub­lished on April

30 and Learn­ing To Crawl be­gins May 7. Sil­ver

Surfer is out now.

Peter re­turns

from the comic book grave… Su­pe­rior Spi­der­Man ends with #31.

… along­side a fivepart flash­back se­ries.

Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man

starts this month.

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