The deadly foes of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man are legion, but ranking them based on the amount of damage they’ve done to Peter Parker and his loved would bring two villains right to the top: Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus. The Goblin (AKA Norman Osborn) is infamous for discovering Spider-Man’s secret identity and using that knowledge to murder his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, and over the years the Goblin would return again and again to destroy and break Spidey emotionally. The character’s ruthlessness, insanity, and unrepentant evil made him one of Spidey’s most terrifying foes.
Doctor Octopus (AKA Otto Octavius) was always one of Spider-Man’s more formidable foes, but his most devastating strike against Spidey came recently when he implanted his conscience in the healthy body of Spidey’s alter ego, Peter Parker, and trapped Parker’s conscience in his own dying physical form. Parker couldn’t reverse the process before Octavius’ body expired, but thanks to a complication of the mind swap Otto was a left with a desire to be heroic, but in his own twisted and vainglorious way; a desire he acts upon in his guise as the “Superior Spider-Man.”
What happens when two of Peter Parker’s greatest foes suddenly find themselves up against one another? Writer Dan Slott and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli will answer that question and more in February’s “Superior Spider-Man” #27.NOW, which kicks off “Goblin Nation,” a new arc that pits the titular Web-Slinger against a mysterious, seemingly new Green Goblin and the criminal army he’s quietly been assembling for the past several months. CBR News spoke with Slott about the arc which was announced by Marvel today at their “Superior Spider-Man & Friends” panel at New York Comic Con.
CBR News: Dan, “Goblin Nation” begins in February, which is still four months aways. What can you tell us about the “Superior Spider-Man” stories leading up to the arc and how do they set the stage for “Goblin Nation?”
Dan Slott: Every story leading up to “Goblin Nation” is very important. Issues #20 and #21, which make up the two-parter that happens after the current Spidey 2099 arc, have so many major developments. Next year in 2014 people are going to ask, “When did that start? How did that come about? Wait! That’s in Spider-Man now?” Where did all of that start? Issues #20 and #21.
There are so many reveals. “Amazing Spider-Man” #698 had a major twist. Issues #20-21 have major developments; things that will really change the direction and trajectory of everything that’s going on in the world of Spider-Man.
After that we have our big Venom arc, “Darkest Hours.” That story features a Venom that doesn’t have a monthly series to go back to. So all I’m saying is anything could happen. Anything could happen with Flash and the Venom symbiote. Big things are brewing on the Venom side, and even beyond that, within the story and the things that happen in issues #20-21 there are major developments on the Goblin front, including the birth of a new Goblin. Plus there are lots of set up, plans, and things coming home to roost.
Then issue #26 is a prelude to “Goblin Nation” where two major Spider-Man universe characters have a throw down. Developments will also occur between Spider-Man and the Avengers.
Plus something’s going to happen in “Superior Spider-Man” #19, the last issue of the Spider-Man 2099 arc, and when that happens Spider-Man fans are going to have a lot of questions. People are going to be going, “WHAT? WHAT? HOW? WHAT?” [Laughs] There will be many, many questions that fans will want answered. Issue #26 will answer many of those questions. When you hit issue #26 you’ll go, “OHHHHHHHH!” Knowing the answers, though, doesn’t mean things get better [Laughs]. You’ll see where all the cards are on the table and you’ll go, “Oh my god we’re heading toward — Goblin Nation.”
We’re heading toward the “Goblin Nation” story where we’ll see what happens now after the rise of Spider-Man’s greatest enemy, the Green Goblin and what happens with Otto Octavius, the Superior Spider-Man. Because let’s be honest. He’s fought characters like Cardiac, Screwball and Stunner. [Laughs] THIS IS THE GREEN GOBLIN! Has everything you’ve seen this so-called “Superior” Spider-Man do risen to the level of the Green Goblin?
It’s not just the Green Goblin either, though. It’s a Green Goblin who’s had 26 issues to plan and scheme [Laughs]; a Green Goblin who’s secretly the Kingpin of Crime in all of New York thanks to the Superior Spider-Man. Oh my! THIS IS IT!
At the heart of Goblin Nation is the mysterious, seemingly new Green Goblin, and self proclaimed Goblin King. What’s it like writing this character? And refresh our memories — have you had a chance to do a big Green Goblin story? There was “New Ways to Die,” but was that more a Norman Osborn story than it was a Green Goblin story?
That raises a very important question, who’s under the mask?
Yes who is under the mask of this new “Goblin King?”
I’m not going to tell you. [Laughs]
[Laughs] I didn’t think you would, but you can’t blame a guy for trying.
I did get to write a Spidey-Goblin throw down in “New Ways to Die” with Norman Osborn putting on that Goblin suit and stepping onto the glider, but come on! It’s the Green Goblin! This is awesome! If you’re any self respecting Spider-Man fan, it’s the Green Goblin!
Between Warren Ellis’ work on “Thunderbolts” and Brian Bendis’ work on the Avengers books the Goblin was elevated out of the Spider-Man world to become a heavy hitter in the Marvel Universe. So during the “Brand New Day” years we would on some level have to politely knock on the door and ask if we could use Norman Osborn in Spider-Man. We we’re very much going, “Can we use him in this story ‘New Ways to Die?’ Can we use him in this story ‘American Son?’ Can we borrow Norman Osborn for a Spider-Man story?” [Laughs]
It was one of the key reasons why when I was writing “Amazing Spider-Man” #600 that we used Doc Ock. He was the number one, undisputed Spider-Man villain that was available to us. Once Brian put him back in the toy box at the end of his “Avengers” run we were like, “Okay, so he’s ours now free and clear? He’s a Spider-Man villain again?” [Laughs] And when they answered yes we thought, “Okay let’s let him marinate, scheme and plan for 26 issues. And let’s see if it is Norman Osborn.” Maybe everything you can do with Norman has been done? You’ll have to wait and see.
We know what the Green Goblin meant to Peter Parker, but what does he mean to Otto Octavius?
I don’t want to give stuff away. You’ll have to wait and see, but one thing to keep in mind is Doc Ock killed Spider-Man, took his life, and carried on. So he’s had the ultimate victory over Spider-Man.
When you look at the rankings, I’m sorry but everything he’s done from the “Dying Wish” arc of “Amazing Spider-Man” on moves him up in the rankings. Norman Osborn is like, “Ha! I threw your girlfriend off a bridge.” And Dock Ock could reply, “You know what? I RIPPED HIS BRAIN OUT OF HIS SKULL, PUT MY MIND INSIDE, AND WORE HIM LIKE A MEAT PUPPET! TOP THAT!” [Laughs] So at some point you go, “You know, I think Doc Ock might just be the #1 Spider-Man villain of all time.” It’s like, “Suck it Goblin!”
Can you offer up any further hints or teases about the plot of “Goblin Nation?” How many chapters is this story?
It’s five chapters; every one a bullet in the gun. Sometimes it can be very fun to set up all the dominoes in a big neat pattern, but we all know the real fun is knocking them down and watching it all happen. That’s “Goblin Nation.” [Laughs]
A lot of “Superior Spider-Man” has been taking that roller coaster up to the top — AND THEN COMES “GOBLIN NATION!” OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING THROUGH A LOOP! [Laughs] And then somewhere along there’s a chapter where it’s “AND THERE’S NO BREAKS?”
So this is the one where if you’re a Spider-Man fan of any era or even if you’re a Spider-Man fan who’s been angry and going “I DON’T LIKE THIS ‘SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN!'” you’re going to be back for this one, baby. You’re going to want a ticket for this ride. You don’t want to hear about it on the message boards after the fact. You don’t want to be the guy that reads someone els’s synopsis of this, “And then the roller coaster went through a loop!” [Laughs] Thanks for telling me about that, I think I would have much rather been in the car.
How does the scope and scale of “Goblin Nation” compare to some of your other big Spidey epics?
I look at “Goblin Nation” and I go, “This might be the one.” I’ve written about a hundred issues of the core title of Spider-Man and I don’t want to oversell it, but this might be one of the ones people remember me for, for good or ill [Laughs].
What can you tell us about the supporting cast of “Goblin Nation?”
Nobody is safe, and this is coming from me! I’ve got a trail of bodies behind me over here. [Laughs] Have you seen the bodies, Dave? NOBODY IS SAFE! You know that thing you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re watching “Game of Thrones?”
[Laughs] Okay good.
Will any heroes guest star in this story?
Yes, but I don’t to spoil anything.
Fair enough, let’s chat about the visuals of “Goblin Nation.” You’re working with Giuseppe Camuncoli on this story. What do you feel he brings to “Goblin Nation?” He’s done several arcs of “Superior,” but is this his first big Spidey epic?
We have three art teams on “Superior Spider-Man” and everybody gets a shot. It’s only fair. These are three of the best pencillers in the industry, no one should get to do all the best stuff. You’ve got to share the toys, but when you look at everything Camo has done up until now you see that every time Doc Ock has killed someone it’s been in a Camo story. Every time — Massacre, Spider-Slayer BAM! BAM! It’s like we’ve been pretty ruthless whenever it was Camo’s turn, and when you see the developments that happen in the two part Camo arc in #20-21 you’ll go, “Wow! Camo gets to be there for a lot of the big things.”
We’ve been trusting Giuseppe Camuncoli with some of the really big beats because boy did he deliver, and his work on “Goblin Nation” is gorgeous! He’s been turning pages in for issue #27 and I’ve been wowed by every one. Every single time a page has come in from Giuseppe it’s been a treat.
There is a double page spread in issue #27 that really made the Spider fan boy in me just gleeful [Laughs]. It’s phenomenal. The top tier that spreads across both pages is just a big Spider-Man love letter. Then the stuff happens on the bottom tier is gorgeous too. He also turned in the splash of the issue and I just went, “WOW! That’s amazing.”
A splash page appearing in one your books is a big thing, correct? You seem to use them very sparingly.
Yeah, I don’t use them a lot because we’ve got 20 pages and I want to move the ball up the field. A splash equals a panel, and I’d rather have more panels. So yeah, I skimp on the splashes.
So if we hear there’s a splash page in one your books we can expect something gigantic to happen in it?
When you hit a splash I really want it to be some big operatic moment. Or if it’s a song that’s where you hit the crescendo. There’s something that happens at the top of #27 where you just go, “Ohhh, that sets the tone.”
Finally, the Marvel teaser that hinted at this story had one word, “The End.” And the teaser for Marvel’s upcoming “Inhumanity” storyline features a Spider-Man clad in his classic costume. Can you comment at all on these teasers without tipping your hand? How shaken up will Spider-Man’s world be after the events of “Goblin Nation?”
I can’t think of any story I’ve told in my run on Spider-Man, which has turned the Spider-Man world around in more directions at once. I think that’s a fair way to describe the impact of the events of “Goblin Nation.”
As far as the teaser, I think we’ve already made that teaser come true because we’ve seen “Marvel Knights Spider-Man” launch which is a story set in a different time. Then we’ve got the point one-four stories coming up, which are also stories set in a different time. So we are seeing classic red and blue Spidey stories already.
So does that mean…
LOOK OVER THERE, POKEMON!
Huh? What? I don’t see anything! Now what was I saying? Oh yeah. “Goblin Nation.” Finally, it feels like you’ve been telling one really large story in “Superior Spider-Man.” Is “Goblin Nation” the beginning of the end to that story?
“Goblin Nation” is definitely a crescendo to the story we’ve been building in “Superior Spider-Man.” A lot of the things that have been happening in the world of Spider-Man is the fun of lighting the fuse. “Goblin Nation” is the explosion.
“Goblin Nation” begins in “Superior Spider-Man” #27.NOW by Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli.