When Peter Parker accepted the great responsibility that came with his great power, a beacon of hope was lit not just in the Marvel Universe, but on the numerous other parallel worlds that make up the Marvel Multiverse. Though the circumstances that turned Peter into a spider-powered hero played out in different ways and in different times on these parallel earths, the end result was almost always the same: An individual, sometimes a version of Peter, sometimes not, finds themselves endowed with super powers and decides to walk the path of a hero as Spider-Man.
Now, returning villain Morlun — “part of an even bigger thing,” according to “Amazing Spider-Man” writer Dan Slott — is making his way across these realities in an attempt to snuff out every single character to wield spider-powers. “Spider-Verse,” the Slott-helmed event, is where every version of Spider-Man will fight an interdimensional war for survival, but before the war begins, readers will meet some of the combatants. This October, Spidey fans will meet a diverse quintet of these alternate reality Wall-Crawlers in the five-issue “Edge of Spider-Verse” miniseries, including an all-new Spider-Woman, an alternate reality incarnation of Peter Parker’s murdered girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. She makes her debut in “Edge of Spider-Verse” #2 and we spoke with the creators of that issue — writer Jason Latour, artist Robbi Rodriguez, and colorist Rico Renzi — about what they have planned for her.
CBR News: When I did my initial “Edge of Spider-Verse” interview, the character that got one of the biggest reactions and people seemed really excited about was Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman. Why do you think that is? What is it about Gwen and a world where she became Spider-Woman that has readers excited?
Jason Latour: Well, first I think it’s just a great looking character. The bulk of the credit for that goes to Robbi for just nailing it. But it was really important to me, personally and story-wise, that she be as mysterious as Spider-Man was when he first appeared. The gender stuff was secondary. I think that’s got a lot to do with the reaction. People are just starved for something even-handed.
Beyond that, there’s possibly a bit of catharsis at play. The original Gwen Stacy’s death is a thing that many older readers just take for granted as a keystone of who Peter has become. But it happened so long ago that Gwen seems to, at times, almost become faceless, or voiceless. But now that she’s re-surfaced in other media and has kind of been given a second life, it’s a lot more difficult for folks to swallow. Maybe it should have always been. That’s not my case to mount either way. I think people are just genuinely excited about a world where that tragedy played out differently and a character they’ve grown to love gets a second gasp of air.
Robbi Rodriguez: I’m thinking the take we are going with our Gwen and the outfit helped to seal the deal. With the way Gwen has been handled as of late, I think the audience really really wants a Gwen that’s not just a plot point and something more respectable to the origins of the character. Which I think ours is, but with a modern take, examining her under the lens of that eternal struggle — where do you compromise who you are as a person in order to fit in the mold of what others want out of you? And where do you break from the mold?
â€¨Rico Renzi: The response to the book in general and Robbi’s costume design has been overwhelming. In the world of online comic fandom, it’s always refreshing when people seem genuinely excited about something you’re working on. Even people who had their heart broken by her death in the original comics seem excited for this new spin on the character.
Peter Parker was transformed into Spider-Man while he was in high school — is that be the case for Gwen? In our last interview, you said she was in a band, so her experiences and world view might be very different from Peter’s at that age. Does this mean she might not be learning the same lessons about power and responsibility as Peter?
Latour: Our Gwen is in college at Empire State, but the implication is that she’s been Spider-Woman for a short while leading up to this story. In that time, there was a traumatic event that has totally re-shaped her life.
A lot of her struggle has to do with the freedom or lack thereof that being an artist or wearing a mask gives her. As a member of her band, she’s got to be open and trusting of her collaborators. It’s not too dissimilar from the trust of a family. Wearing her mask has opened up her life to use this amazing gift that is her powers freely, but that secret has started to really put pressure on her relationship with both her band and her father.
Robbi, who is Gwen to you, as an artist? Which elements of her character do you really want to capture and bring froward in your depictions of her?
Rodriguez: It took me a bit of time to get grasp on this book. One, because it’s a superhero book and it has never been one of my top genres to read, but it also really took examining Gwen and getting in her head to get it. Off the top, she is more based in terms of looks to Debbie Harry, but underneath she’s really based on all of my female friends and all our conversations about living under terms that were not set by them. So I guess I’m trying to capture the rebel grrl shell, but also trying to capture the deep thought and philosophy filling.
What inspired the look of her costume?
Renzi: Robbi came up with the costume, colors and all.
Rodriguez: Well, I hated every Spider-Woman costume I’ve seen so far, and when I was given the opportunity to redesign it, I jumped at the chance. Being a [Alex] Toth disciple, I wanted to make it as simple as possible, but I added more streetwear elements so it doesn’t look so ridiculous. The cosplay and fashion communities were a big help in that when it came to researching what works and what doesn’t. The hoodie element and everything came together in the final package.
What can you tell us about the supporting cast? What kind of danger is Gwen up against in this tale?
Latour: The real danger, as it turns out, comes from her own father, who is helming the manhunt for Spider-Woman, for a crime she didn’t commit — at least, one she didn’t commit directly. But lumbering straight towards them both is a second threat, who’s decided that Captain Stacy has to go. Gwen’s very strange situation is only going to get stranger when she’s forced to defend the man who wants her in jail.
How important is Gwen’s father, Captain Stacy, in this story? Does his role as a police officer create some conflict for his daughter, a costumed vigilante? And what kind of cop is he in the world that this Gwen hails from?
Latour: It’s not really necessary to know much, if anything, about the 616 Captain Stacy. What matters here is how he’s raised Gwen and the expectations he’s placed upon her. He’s a man who maybe shares some of the same qualities as the Parkers, but at the end of the day, he’s actively put it upon himself to do what he feels it takes to protect his community.
What would he do if he realized he had it all wrong? That his daughter’s the one in the mask, and that in some strange way he’s lead her down this path? That’s kind of at the core of this. Great power and great responsibility isn’t just a line authority figures can throw around. They have to live it too.
What can you tell us about the look and feel of Gwen’s world? Is it pretty similar to the 616, or does the world that Gwen lives and operates in have a decidedly different feel?
Rodriguez: It’s far different from the NYC of the regular Marvel Universe. That’s what we are going for if we are dealing with alternate worlds; more colorful, more streamlined. Even the inhabitants that readers know have a new take on them.
Renzi: Jason turned in a really fun script, so I tried to keep the colors in that vein. Robbi’s artwork is so energetic and lively, I can’t help but get swept up in that energy.
What’s it like, being part of the “Edge of Spider-Verse,” team? Jason, Which aspects of Robbi and Rico’s work do you find most enjoyable as a writer? Robbi and Rico, how does it feel to being working with your “FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics” collaborator on a big Marvel project?
Latour: There’s a lot of great qualities about Robbi’s work, but what really transcends is his excitement. When he’s fired up, it really leaps out of the page at you. But unlike most big moment artists, he also really excels at finding the inner life of the characters. That’s a really underrated skill, almost a lost art. It’s a joy to write for someone who makes that kind of effort to get into the skin of what he’s doing.
As for Rico, he just has the type of brain that really attacks a story in terms of what’s interesting and compelling. I love working with him, especially as a writer. It’s just invaluable to have a colorist on board who understands what makes comic books work and isn’t putting himself in front of that.
Rodriguez: It’s a new challenge, which what I am always looking for. I didn’t think it was such a big deal ’til all the buzz about Spider-Gwen started showing up. But I keep that out of my mind in order make the best project I can and treat it as a personal project and not just a paycheck. Bringing Rico with me was an added bonus, because we have an unspoken understanding on the look and feel of the project. If you’d enjoyed his “FBP” work, then this issue will blow you away .
Renzi: Jason and Robbi are like family to me, and Nick Lowe giving us so much freedom to put our spin on some beloved Marvel characters has been a blast.
“Spider-Verse” is essentially a war story, so there’s no guarantee Gwen Stacy will survive. But if she does, would you be interested in telling more stories with her?
Renzi: Of course! I’d love to do more Gwen stories with Jason and Robbi!
Latour: Absolutely. I’m not involved in the grander strokes of “Spider-Verse,” so I don’t know what the big plans are, but I do know she’ll be making a couple of appearances in Dennis Hopeless’ new “Spider-Woman” book, and I’m thrilled by that. Dennis is going to do fun things with her. If she’s around after all the dust clears, and everyone seems to want it, I think there’s probably more that could be said. So long as it’s natural and in keeping with the tone we’re trying to establish.
Rodriguez: I think we all would, deep down. I think we all have a bit more to say with her, but I guess that’s really up to the readers to make this issue a hit, and the powers that be. I hope we gave the reading audience a Spider-Woman that’s more than just background filler, or just a character whose sole existence was to fill in a copyright hole.