Hey folks, Ambush Bug here with a two part interview centering on the comic everyone is talking about: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and its “Brand New Day” relaunch. Comic bookers old and new have been quite vocal about the recent developments in the Spidey Universe. All other Spidey books have been cancelled and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN will now come out thrice monthly to appease your tingling spider senses. Writer Dan Slott and editor Steve Wacker were able to answer a few questions the AICN @$$holes threw their way in this, the first part of our “Brand New Day” Q&@. On Monday, expect Part Two of this interview where we toss out some questions to Marvel Editor In Chief Joe Quesada. So be sure to pop back in then to see the sparks fly. Until then, let’s see what Mr. Slott and Mr. Wacker have to say:
@$$Holes (@): Seems “Brand New Day” is setting a new status quo for the Spider-Man Universe. Can you explain that change to the three people out there who don’t know anything about it yet?Dan Slott (DS): He now has the powers of a spider-monkey. Besides that? Same as it ever was. You're good to go. Really. Steve? A li'l help?
Steve Wacker (SW): For anyone coming in fresh, I don't think much has to be explained. It's the classic Peter Parker set-up. Pete's a 20-something New Yorker with Spider powers who uses them to help folks out...and who sometimes screws it all up, constantly torn between his personal life as Peter Parker and his responsibilities as Spider-Man.
@: These changes have been made to get Spider-Man back to a more recognizable, archetypal status quo – does that mean we’ll be seeing less of an emphasis on continuity and events in SPIDER-MAN and more of an “illusion of change”-driven status quo going forward?DS: No. This book has, had, and will have continuity. It takes place in the Marvel Universe. I see a lot of online fans out there saying that 20 years of continuity have been wiped. And that's so not the case. This isn't a 'Crisis' or a reboot. This is Marvel, people.
I don't mean to get my geek on, but here goes… The "mind-wipe" is a comic book trope. Except for a few changes, everything happened. People are just remembering it wrong. This has been done before many times in the Marvel U. From Sentry to Iron Man to Doc Strange.
Back in '98, Kurt Busiek did an Iron Man/Captain America special where Iron Man used an A.I.M.-built brainwashing satellite to make EVERYONE on Earth forget that he was ever Iron Man. Once upon a time, Stephen Strange made EVERYONE in EXISTENCE forget he was Sorcerer Supreme, and then he adopted the new identity of Dr. Stephen Saunders.
And it didn't change or invalidate ANY of their past comics. Look, hardcore fans can figure this stuff out. They've got the skills. It's all a matter of taking off the blinders, putting on your No-Prize hat, and getting creative.
There ARE solutions to ANY continuity problem you can come up with. Honest. WE know how they all work. But who wants to go on and on explaining it all? I mean, just look at how long THIS response is. See? Getting sleepy yet? Me? I'd rather use that time telling stories!
@: How would they describe the tone of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN right now?DS: 100% Spider-Man. Spidey's got a mix of everything—it can be drop-dead serious, moody, noir, nightmarish, down-to-earth, soap opera-ish, goofy, touching, thrilling… There's no one way to do it. It's always going to be a mix. The one constant is the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and how ALL of that goes through his very unique filter.
@: How much of an influence was the movie series on “Brand New Day” as a reorientation of the status quo?DS: I LOVE the movie series, especially SPIDER-MAN 2 with Doc Ock and the Spider-Man No More riffs. But for me this is all about Amazing Spider-Man the COMIC! As great as the movies are, we can do things in comics and this medium—especially this thrice-monthly format—that movies can't!
@: Can you tell us the difference between the main AMAZING SPIDER-MAN title and the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN title? They seem pretty similar to me now, other than the death of Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben's ponytail…DS: Well for starters, our Aunt May? She doesn't know that Peter is Spider-Man. That's an Ultimate thing. And… (***SPOILER*** that's probably where you'll have to go now if you want to read about J. Jonah Jameson. Sorry. ***SPOILER***)
@: Steve, DC’s 52 maxiseries was a pretty successful endeavor. What did you learn coordinating that series that you are bringing to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN?SW: That you never have enough issues in the drawer ready to go. The schedule is a real bear and you simply can’t be far enough ahead. Marvel’s been great about letting me cull from the top shelf talent and making room in everyone’s schedule to get these books out, so on another level you really need the confidence of the your bosses to get this machine working.
@: Can you give us some insight about the selection process that went into putting together the “Brand New Day” creative team and how it all came about?SW: Easy. With Slott, Guggenheim, Wells, and Gale we have writers who were each introduced to Spidey at different points in history. Along with Executive editor Brevoort (who oversees me), there’s not a previous Spider-Man story that hasn’t been read by one of these guys.
All of these writers also were able to carry a heavy assignment load that goes along with this book and work together to make sure it everything meshes as well as possible.
@: Dan, what is it like making the leap from writing second tier books like SHE-HULK, THE THING, and THE INITIATIVE to writing the adventures of Marvel’s most popular hero?DS: Insane! The size of the audience is creepy. I'm used to hanging out in the "cult favorite" corner. The number of eyes on each issue is going to take a while to get used to. At the same time though—what a RUSH! To work on SPIDER-MAN?!
We were doing a Marvel podcast once, and Joe was going around the room asking all these Marvel creators "If you could work on ANY Marvel title, which would you choose?" And, almost to a man, everyone said AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Not JUST Spider-Man, but AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. JMS was there. He was working on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and he STILL said AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Me? I said MOON KNIGHT. Why? Well, MOON KNIGHT was one of my drop-dead favorite titles in high school. But honestly? I couldn't bring myself to say SPIDER-MAN. It would be like—who has the balls to ask the homecoming queen to the prom?! AMAZING SPIDER-MAN just seemed like too impossible a dream. Now I'm living it! That's what it's like.
@: Just how old is Spider-Man these days? I mean, an early twenty-something guy living with his elderly aunt is somewhat understandable, but a guy in his thirties and doing the same is…well…it’s just kind of sad.DS: Yep. And no one knows that MORE than Mr. Peter Benjamin Parker.
SW: We’re keeping Pete in mid-20s. And he’s crashing at his Aunt’s pad when we first see him, but he’ll be finding his own place soon.
@: Hasn't anybody warned Peter you'll never get a job as long as you interview in a short-sleeved button-down?DS: Ah, but what you DIDN'T see? His next interview was an audition for a role on CHUCK.
@: JMS’ “Spider Totem” storyline is one that went back hundreds of years tying Spidey’s powers more to the spider itself and not the radiation on that fateful day at the science fair. How (if at all) does this fit into “Brand New Day” continuity?DS: Just read the top copy on ANY of our splash pages, sir. Isn't that cool! We got the top copy back!
@: Steve, what’s your secret in coordinating a weekly comic in an industry that often has difficulty getting a monthly comic out on a consistent basis?SW: You just have to build a nice bubble around yourself of people ready to do the heavy lifting to get the book out. My assistant Tom Brennan works around the clock trafficking pages to the four corner of the world, so there’s not one moment of down time.
You also have to be willing to do a lot of work at home sacrificing the raising of your children and the health of your marriage to make sure the @$$Holes have something to vent about on Wednesdays.
@: Seriously: what's up with the Osborn family hair? If I had Harry's resources, I'd have dealt with that shit years ago. Or started shaving my head bald. Or gotten dreads.DS: I think we should do a story where we find out that Norman, Harry, and Sandman all go to the same f'ed up barber.
SW: It’s a billionaire thing. Trump’s got his trademark onion loaf coif, Lex Luthor’s got his baldness, the Osborn’s have their “industrial carpeting from grandma’s basement” look. What’s the problem?
@: Mr. Negative: great character design. Have I seen him before and just missed it, or is AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #546 his first appearance?DS: He appeared briefly in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN SWING SHIFT FCBD comic from last year… And he will AGAIN when the SWING SHIFT DIRECTOR'S CUT comic comes out on the 30th. Plug, plug.
@: And why does he want the suitcase from "Pulp Fiction" so badly? Homicidal film buff, perhaps?DS: It's my secret ploy to backdoor a role for Samuel L. Jackson in SPIDER-MAN 4.
@: The first issue of BND clearly states that no one knows that Peter is Spidey. No one, huh? Not even his buddy The Human Torch or his teammates in the New Avengers?SW: Nope. No one.
DS: What? Steve, did we just invalidate my entire SPIDER-MAN/HUMAN TORCH mini-series?! Darn it!
@: It reminds me of the theme song to the old ELECTRIC COMPANY Spidey serial, “Nobody knows who you are!!!” Any of you guys remember that?DS: Yep. My favorite episode is the one where Spidey fought The Wall at a Mets game!
@: Speaking of that show, do any of you guys remember Dr. Fright? The guy who wore a giant top hat over his head because one look at his butt-fugly face paralyzed people in fear? Dan, I know you like to work with obscure characters. Any chance of seeing Dr. Fright some time soon?DS: Not in ASM. Initiative? Sure. Everybody from Dragon Lord to Slapstick shows up in the Initiative. For ASM I wanna play with the big toys! When we're making new villains? We wanna make 'em big! And when we open the toy chest, I wanna reach in and take the coolest ones: the Lizard, Venom, Hobgoblin, every single one of the Sinister Six! Oh man! I can't wait!
@: Issue #546 sees brief backup stories about Aunt May, Harry Osborn and Mary Jane. Will the backups continue week to week, or are they simply teasers letting us know what to expect from upcoming arcs?SW: They were a one time happening. We just wanted everyone to have a chance to play in the first issue and give some sneak peeks at upcoming stories. I also wanted a nice, thick comic to give this launch some weight.
@: I know Steve McNiven, for example, isn’t staying on, but will any of the other artists be doing more than one arc? It’d be nice to see some artistic consistency.SW: Bachalo and Jimenez are staying in the Spidey-verse and we have a few more surprise artists showing up later in the year. Then this summer Romita Jr. comes back home.
@: If sales aren’t agreeable, will Mephisto be making a repeat appearance in a year or so? How about other comics in the Marvel U that may need a little Mephisto remix?DS: …
Thanks for having us here. This was great!