Earth-65, the setting for Marvel Comics’ Spider-Gwen series, is home to a number of familiar but decidedly different takes on iconic characters. These new takes on classic faces include the book’s titular character, Gwen Stacy, who became her reality’s Spider-Woman after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Under the guiding hands of writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez, we’ve met some of Gwen’s deadly foes like Peter Parker and Harry Osborn, the former and current incarnations of the Lizard, and Matt Murdock, the Kingpin of Crime who currently has Gwen under his thumb.
In Spider-Gwen #19, Latour and Rodriguez kicked of a new arc (“Predators”) with a story that sent their protagonist on a desperate mission to Madripoor and set the stage for the Earth-65 debut of two fan favorite Marvel characters: Venom and Wolverine. CBR spoke with Latour about his takes on those characters, how joining with the Venom symbiote could impact Gwen, and how her mission to Madripoor will impact the book moving forward.
CBR: In Spider-Gwen #19, you introduced a lot of new things to Gwen’s world, but perhaps the biggest is this reality’s version of Wolverine, who made his debut on the issue’s final page. How similar and how different is this Wolverine to the one of the main Marvel Universe? What inspired his creation?
Jason Latour: Well, a lot of things. But outside of Gwen, Wolverine is the character I’ve probably done the most work on at Marvel. In fact the first thing Robbi and I did together, both officially and unofficially, was a Logan story… cough… spring break forever… cough…
But honestly, a potential “Gwenom”—is something we’ve been building towards a long time. So this story with featuring Harry Osborn on the run, and given Robbi’s predilection for all things Japan, making Logan a more direct riff on Toshiro Mifune was a no brainer.
Then, and I swear this is true, I was having lunch at NYCC with James Harren and Dennis Hopeless— and no sooner do I tell them how we’re thinking of re-imagining Logan, does this guy wearing a WOLVERINE/WU-TANG CLAN mash-up T-shirt turn the corner. So y’know, respect to Grant Morrison and Katmandu or whatever — I’ve learned you don’t fight that kind of stuff.
[Laughs] Since you mentioned, “Gwenom” let’s talk about the Earth-65 version of the Venom symbiote, which also made it’s debut in Spider-Gwen #19. The Marvel Universe Peter Parker and Earth-65 Gwen are two very different people with different upbringings. So if and when Gwen joins with the Venom symbiote will she be dealing with the same issues Peter did?
Look, I read ’90s comics in high school, so I love the idea of Venom. And the very obvious “Gwenom” pun has been laying there almost since day one. But I always felt that it’s not something you rush out to do or force just so you have a different action figure design. Also, I never really liked that Peter Parker was tempted by “evil” only to just pull the suit off and throw it in the corner and walk away unscathed. It just seemed way too convenient to me.
So what we’ve tried to do is keep some of the big crazy underpinnings, but build toward a potential “Gwenom” in a organic way. Gwen’s problems have been mounting for a very long time and we’re finally in a place where her back is to the wall. Gwen’s basically been dependent upon Matt Murdock for her powers for a long time. But with Venom and the symbiote, Murdock is offering her this kind of Faustian deal— a potential way out, to be Spider-Woman fully again— But at what cost? Worse, he’s seemingly leaving it up to her to actually decide, to choose between her old life and the potential of life as Spider-Woman again.
What was it like working with Robbi and colorist Rico Renzi designing these new versions of Venom and Wolverine?
Most of the time, as with Spider-Gwen’s costume, it’s a team effort. But often when Robbi is in a pinch time-wise, or I feel the need to visualize a character, I’ll go ahead and do a pass. But even then, any of the stuff I do on my own only takes on it’s real shape and breathes air when Robbi and Rico put them on the page.
A new setting was also introduced in Spider-Gwen #19, Earth-65’s Madripoor. What made you want to bring that setting into the book?
If you’re going to take Gwen out of New York— you have to up the ante. Our Madripoor is like a like Blade Runner’s Los Angeles mixed with Hong Kong, and it’s a favorite classic Wolverine stomping ground. This stuff writes itself sometimes, man.
What else can you tell us about the tone and nature of the action in the “Predators” arc? It feels like with Gwen chasing after Harry Osborn and Wolverine stalking her that this will be a story where’s she’s both the hunter and the hunted.
Yep — the plot is “simply” that Matt Murdock holds the cure to Harry Osborn’s Lizard disease. A cure that just happens to create the symbiote. But Harry is on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D. for stealing the Lizard Formula and wrecking New York while trying to kill Spider-Woman. So Murdock has charged Gwen with bringing Harry in, giving her the opportunity to cure her friend. BUT if Gwen does so, she hands Murdock the Venom in the process, and perhaps seals her own fate.
Meanwhile, Wolverine has his own reasons for hunting Harry Osborn. And uh— snikty snikty here comes the stabbing or something.. something…
What does this arc means for the book’s supporting cast? While Gwen is in Madripoor will we see what’s going on with her dad, her bandmates the Mary Janes, and the man she’s reluctantly working for, Matt Murdock?
This arc is the first glimpse of Matt Murdock’s real cards. He’s manipulated Gwen with varying degrees of success for a long time now, but as this arc opens he’s given her a seemingly impossible task and choice— and as we’ve seen, Murdock doesn’t do anything without intention. It seems he really wants Gwen Venom-ized, the question remains— why?
And don’t worry, The Mary Janes haven’t been forgotten. As far back as the Halloween issue, we saw that Mary Jane herself has some running theories on who Spider-Woman is. This arc we may just see a lot of those crazy conspiracies start to seem less crazy…
Finally, it feels like a lot of stories you’ve been building are coming to a head in the “Predators” arc. Ultimately, How big of an impact will this arc have on Spider-Gwen? What kind of shape will Gwen’s world be in when it’s over?
This certainly feels like a storyline where a lot of the stuff we’ve seeded over the last few years starts to come together. Robbi, Rico and I have been dying to get here for a long time I can tell you that much.
As for the shape of things after it? Well look— the best part of Spider-Gwen’s universe from a creative standpoint is that it can change shape. So long as it fits the story, nothing is off limits really. So while I have well laid plans and schemes for how all this wraps up— the most exciting part is that it could change at any moment. So yeah— Venom and Lizards and Madripoor and Adamantium claws and all kinds of insane stuff ahead. It’s gonna be fun.