Last Week, Peter Parker’s life got a whole lot more complicated when in the pages of Marvel Comics’ “Civil War” #2 Parker revealed to the world that he was Spider-Man. Now that his identity is no longer secret, the wall-crawler must contend with a host of new problems and survive a number of nefarious schemes that his unmasking has set in motion. CBR News spoke with “Sensational Spider-Man” writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa about what trials and tribulations he has planned for Spidey in the wake of his unmasking.
The previous two writers of “Sensational Spider-Man” (back when the book was still known as “Marvel Knights Spider-Man”) came aboard the book with a limited number of stories they wanted to tell, but certain events, such as the climax of “Civil War” #2, have only served to inspire Sacasa with a host of story ideas. “I think when the book started Mark Millar had said that he wanted to be on for twelve issues,” Sacasa told CBR News. “I think when Reggie Hudlin jumped on with all his other stuff and the ‘Black Panther’ that he too was only going to be on it for a finite amount of time. When I started ‘Sensational’ I had a conversation with Axel Alonso and Warren Simons and I said, ‘Is this only going to be twelve issues? Or is this more or a less an ongoing?’ They essentially said, ‘It depends. If you want to stay beyond twelve issues we’d love for you to stay.’ Lately I’ve been getting ideas for stories that go beyond twelve issues. So my hope is to stay on it for a while, longer than the first two guys.”
Sacasa feels that one of the things that separates “Sensational Spider-Man” from the other two Spider-Man titles is its respect for continuity while also managing to blaze its own trail. “Amazing is the flagship title. I feel it’s sort of Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe,” Sacasa said. “The perfect example is right now it ties into all the ‘Civil War’ stuff. I think ‘Friendly, Neighborhood Spider-Man’ is, I don’t want to call it more offbeat — I would ask Peter David how he classifies it — but it definitely feels a little bit more like old school comic books with stuff like the Hobgoblin of 2099 coming back. I originally thought ‘Sensational’ would be more of the mature readers, darker Spider-Man book and I think that’s true to some extent, but I would say that it’s less tied to the other books directly. Say, if Spider-Man breaks his arm in ‘Amazing’ he’s going to have a broken arm in ‘Sensational,’ but we’re not going to explore the same arm break. The book is kind of its own thing while still reflecting the wider, broader changes effecting Spider-Man.
“The old ‘Spectacular Spider-Man’ comics were these just totally trippy, super fun, almost kind of goofy adventures,” Sacasa continued. “I would say that’s what I want for ‘Sensational.’ That kind of everything and the kitchen sink approach.”
In the recently completed story arc, “Feral,” readers could see Sacasa’s everything and the kitchen sink approach for “Sensational” in action. “Feral” included appearances by a number of Spider-Man’s rogues like the Lizard, Vermin, and Steggron; guest star appearances by heroes like the Black Cat, The Puma, and the Fantastic Four and prominent roles for the book’s supporting cast like Mary Jane and Aunt May. “I had a really good time with that arc,” Sacasa stated. “I’m really enjoying Spidey’s supporting cast of villains and friends and more of them will continue to appear along the course of the run.”
The next issue of “Sensational Spider-Man,” issue #28, will examine the repercussions of Spidey’s unmasking and its effects on his supporting cast of friends and villains. “It explores the impact of Spider-Man revealing his secret identity on one person and that one person is a student of Peter’s in the high school where he teaches,” Sacasa explained. “It’s kind of like what Peter Parker has meant to him, what Spider-Man has meant to him and how that’s changed by this event. It focuses mostly on this kid. The main character is the kid and his girlfriend. Spider-Man has a role and we also see the impact on Dr. Octopus. So, it really does focus on this kid, but it’s not just about him. When you read it you’ll see what I mean. For people who liked the stand alone issues of ‘4’ it’s definitely more in that world.”
Issue #28 of “Sensational Spider-Man” is a stand-alone issue and readers do not need to have read “Civil War” #2 to appreciate it. “Everything you need will be in that issue,” Sacasa stated. “It’s got art by Clayton Crain which is breath taking.”
In addition to Clayton Crain, Sacasa also works with Angel Medina who is the regular artist on “Sensational Spider-Man.” “Both of them are great,” Sacasa said. “If I have my druthers, Clayton will definitely be Angel’s standard relief. I normally hate when a mini-series or a five-issue story is broken up, but in the case of ‘Feral’ even though their styles are so incredibly different it doesn’t feel as jarring. I think because the quality is so good on both of them.”
Following the Crain illustrated, stand alone, issue #28, the next major story arc in “Sensational Spider-Man” begins, entitled “The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man.” “You probably recognize the title from an old mini-series from awhile back,” Sacasa explained. “I don’t remember much about that, but I remember reading it and I remember the cover and loving the title. Originally the title of this arc was going to be ‘Sinister’ and it was going to be a new version of the Sinister Six. Then my editor Warren Simons said, ‘Do you remember that mini-series ‘The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He replied, ‘What if we did ‘The Deadly Foes of Peter Parker?’ and I was like, ‘That’s a brilliant idea.’
“So, what happens is one of Spidey’s oldest foes, The Chameleon, who is one of those villains; Spider-Man has such amazing enemies that I almost feel funny not using as many as I can while I’m doing this run,” Sacasa continued. “The Chameleon is all about identity and faces and it felt like thematically it tied into the larger issues that ‘Civil War’ is bringing up. Essentially what happens is he assembles a team of supervillains to destroy every facet of Peter Parker’s personal life.”
The revelation of Spider-Man’s identity launches the Chameleon on a vendetta that at first glance would appear to be Peter Parker’s worst nightmare come true. “Because of ‘Civil War,’ a lot of heroes and villains are wrapped up.” Sacasa explained. “So the people Chameleon recruits are kind of small fry enough that they wouldn’t be caught up in ‘Civil War.’ They make for a very motley crew of people coming after Peter Parker. So there is a bit of humor, but things become very serious and very deadly quite quickly.”
Sacasa was only able to reveal the identities of a few of the deadly foes that Chameleon has recruited to make things serious and deadly for Peter Parker, noting that the Molten man plays a very important role, with Swarm also making an appearance.
Most of the superheroes of the Marvel Universe are embroiled in the conflict of “Civil War” and are too busy, but Spidey will be getting some assistance in combating the deadly foes from heroes like the Black Cat and the Puma. “I gravitate towards group dynamics and superhero teams,” Sacasa stated. “So, even though Spidey is the quintessential loner I love how he knows other people running around in his neighborhood.”
Heroes and villains won’t be the only people in Spider-Man’s neighborhood affected by Peter’s choices in “Deadly Foes.” “The emotional stuff is still there,” Sacasa said. “Whatever Peter decides, we’re going to see how that affects Felicia Hardy and how it affects people from his past who we haven’t seen for awhile like Liz Allen.”
Another character that readers hadn’t seen for awhile, but recently resurfaced in the “Feral” story arc of “Sensational Spider-Man,” is Madame Web. She will continue to play a supporting role in the series. “Madame Web is indeed back,” Sacasa said. “I like the idea of her being Spidey’s sounding board in a weird way. I always liked her and it’s another case of dusting off things that I remember from my youth and trying to make them relevant and work.”
The two most important people in Peter Parker’s life will have to work hard to survive “Deadly Foes.” “Both Aunt May and Mary Jane will find themselves targeted by two very different deadly foes,” Sacasa explained. “Both of them will have to rely on their own wits to defeat the foes because Spider-Man has his hands full with running the gauntlet of villains and other stuff.”
Spider-Man’s running of the gauntlet will take him all over New York City. Sacasa is a resident of the city and enjoys brining the Big Apple to life by including a number of real life locations in his stories. “In the stand alone issue, #28, you see where the kid lives, above a real Chinese food restaurant,” Sacasa said. “In the first issue of ‘Deadly Foes’ you see a real off-Broadway theater which is where Mary Jane is doing a production of Macbeth. The second part opens with a fight with another one of Spidey’s classic foes and that’s in a real location. If I tell you what the location is, it will tell you who the foe is. So I can’t do that.”
As the Webslinger battles his deadly foes all over NYC, the events of “Civil War” are unfolding in the background. “I don’t know if you noticed this about ‘Feral,’ but it takes place almost in one night,” Sacasa stated. “‘Deadly Foes’ may not be quite as compressed time wise as ‘Feral,’ but it’s not an adventure that’s dragging over weeks. I think it’s the only way to make sense during ‘Civil War.’ The war is happening and in the background. In the first issue Spider-Man checks in with Madame Web about the war.”
When he last checked in with Madame Web in the pages on “Sensational Spider-Man” #26, Spidey was clad in the new Tony Stark designed Spider-Man costume, which Sacasa has grown to like. “Truthfully I was like, ‘Gosh I have to put in the new costume.’ But once I thought about it I was like, ‘That could be kind of cool actually,'” Sacasa explained. “Peter’s going to be doing more cool stuff with the costume in ‘Sensational’ and occasionally he’ll be going back to his old one.”
“Sensational” is the adjective used to describe Sacasa’s Spider-Man title and it also describes his experiences writing the series. “I think people have responded pretty positively to the book and I’m really, really grateful to the people who have been reading it and writing in,” Sacasa said. “We’ve got some really great letters and I’m having a terrific time writing ‘Sensational.’ So, as far as I’m concerned all systems are go.”
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