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
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.
from the comic book grave… Superior SpiderMan ends with #31.
… alongside a fivepart flashback series.
starts this month.