The previous Spider-Man was used to bad nights in the where nothing seemed to go his way. That’s because Peter Parker was accustomed to dealing with the bad luck that frequently plagued him, and knew the best way to handle it was to endure and push forward. But as readers of “Amazing Spider-Man” #700 know, Peter Parker is no longer Spider-Man.
The title character of Marvel Comics’ new Marvel NOW! series “Superior Spider-Man” is former Spidey villain Doctor Octopus (AKA Otto Octavius) whose mind now inhabits Peter Parker’s body. Otto is using that body and the Spider-Man identity to try to be a hero in his own villainous and vainglorious way. So far things have gone according to plan, but in the current arc, “Troubled Mind,” by writer Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos, Otto’s having the worst night of his career and dealing with several major set backs: something’s wrong with his control over Peter Parker’s body, the vigilante known as Cardiac has made off with one of his greatest inventions, and the Avengers have become suspicious of his behavior. Comic Book Resources spoke with Slott about this bad night and what comes after it.
CBR News: Dan, you open things up with the spectral Peter Parker that’s been plaguing Otto since “Superior Spider-Man” #1. So let’s talk about what we know so far about this Peter. He doesn’t seem to be a “ghost” in the most traditional sense of the word. Is that correct?
Dan Slott: I don’t want to spoil anything, but he has access to Otto’s memories and it looks like no one can see him. We did get hints in issue #7 though that Doc has started to hear him.
Right, part of the reason he heard him is that it looks like Peter’s control over his former body is starting to get stronger. At the beginning of issue #7 we saw him reach out and write something.
Yes we’ve seen him take control of his right hand now on three different occasions: the start of “Superior” #1, and twice in “Superior” #7. He was writing while Doc Ock was asleep, but gosh darn it he doesn’t have control of the language center of his brain, so his writing all comes out as gobbledygook. Then later, he released his grip on Cardiac before Doc Ock could throw a fateful punch with his left hand.
So Otto has now become somewhat aware that something is wrong with his body?
Yes. We saw him clutching his hand and saying, “What was that?”
In issue #2 we saw that Doc was going to shoot a web-line at Mary Jane the same way Spidey had shot a web-line at Gwen Stacy. Then Ghost-Spidey shouted, “No! Make a web-net!” Then Doc said, “I think I’ll shoot a web-net.” So Ghost-Pete has been a buzzing in Doc Ock’s head for some time now.
As you mentioned, Peter was forced to take control of his body when Otto became incensed by what Cardiac was attempting to steal from the warehouse. How important was this item to Doc Ock?
It’s a brain mapping device that was the key for Doc originally learning how to talk to his mechanical arms. Something he came up with before his first appearance in “Amazing Spider-Man” #3. So Otto thinks of it as one of his greatest inventions. Cardiac wants to use it to help map out the brain of a very ill little girl.
So it’s like, “Awww Cardiac. You’re the Robin Hood of medicine.” In a world where Spider-Man has been a vigilante for years on end and we root for him, suddenly we see this version of Spider-Man fighting a vigilante. Here’s a guy that Peter Parker would be far more forgiving of.
We’ve gone from, “I won’t let you kill Boomerang” to “Oh my god, I was too busy inside your head and while I was out you beat the Vulture to a pulp.” Then Peter was very unsure whether or not he should let Massacre live the last time they fought, but Doc was very resolute in his belief that Massacre should not be allowed to live. Even though Peter was there, it was BAM! From there it’s just gotten worse. With Screwball and Jester, it was a case of “Those guys guys were making fun of me! So I’ve got to hurt them!” Now with Cardiac we’re at the point where it’s a good guy! So everything has kept escalating and each time we don’t which way the struggle will go.
As you pointed out, Otto seems to lose his temper more quickly ever since his transformation into Spider-Man. He’s always had a bad temper, but was he always this physical with it?
He’s always been pompous, arrogant and ready to lose it. Now though his goals are different. He’s not trying to take over the world. He’s trying to do what he perceives to be right, good, and true. He’s trying a hero’s path, but he’s walking it more in a way that someone like Punisher or Wolverine would. He’s not going the “Friendly Neighborhood” route.
Do you think he’s more prone to physical violence now that he’s in a superhumanly strong body like Peter Parker’s?
In “Amazing Spider-Man” #700 when he attacked the Scorpion, readers learned that on some level Peter Parker was aware of his incredible power and had always been holding back a little. And Doc didn’t. With one punch he knocked off the Scorpion’s jaw! It was brutal and disgusting.
When you think about it, we see super heroes bending steel bars, and lifting cars, but when they hit normal people everything is kind of in check. Or even when they hit a superhumanly strong friend like the Thing they’re holding back. Bad guys (like how Otto used to be) never do that.
So in a lot of ways it felt like issue #7 might have been the worst night in Otto’s fledgling career as a super hero. He loses sleep, discovers someone stealing one of his most prized inventions, loses control of his body, and then get’s beaten by a foe he really has no respect for…
And at the end of the issue he gets confronted by the Avengers who seem to be on to him. That’s not the end of a good day.
Why did it take the Avengers so long to catch on that something might be up with Spider-Man?
It’s frustrating because you’re dealing with what the audience knows and what the characters know. So say you had a scene where a bad guy ran into a room and put a bomb under a chair and then left. Then you have all the main characters walk into that room and you, in the audience, will be screaming, “THERE’S A BOMB UNDER THE CHAIR!” But, c’mon, in everyday life, who the hell looks for a bomb under their chair? It’s a leap to make that assumption.
â€¨So there’s stuff you know in the audience and there’s stuff the characters should logically know. Plus Spider-Man’s acted in lots of strange and weird ways over the years[Laughs]. So the audience is like, “Why don’t they run him over to Doctor Strange? Or have a telepath probe him?” or “Why doesn’t Mary Jane know? She’s lived with him!”
â€¨The answer is that if you’re not looking for brain swaps you’re not going to find it. How many times has Spider-Man interacted with Doctor Strange in the 50 years his comics have been published? It’s not a regular thing, and if you’re Otto Octavius you want to avoid Doctor Strange at all costs! You’re not going to go out of your way to find him.
And if you’re a friend of Spider-Man or someone who knows him, you know that he’s wigged out and done weird stuff all the time. Spider-Man has beaten up Firelord — to the point of almost killing him! Right after Gwen died J. Jonah Jameson said something mean about Spider-Man in the paper and he had enough. He was going over to beat the living crap out of him. That’s when the Man-Wolf shows up. Suddenly Spider-Man has to do the responsible thing and defend him, but that’s not what got him there.
â€¨There’s another incident where Gwen Stacy is having a birthday party and Peter Parker can’t afford to get her anything. So at one point he breaks into a jewelry store and is going to steal a necklace for her and then he goes, “I shouldn’t do it.” He had that moment though where it was in his hand.
So we’ve seen Spider-Man act horribly out of character as far as the Spider-Man on your lunchbox or in your Saturday morning cartoons. The Spider-Man in the comics though is human and we’ve seen him wig out. We’ve seen him go to dark and strange places.
In “No turning Back,” the Lizard story we did a few months back, Spider-Man has a chance to stop the Lizard and he knows it might kill him, but he takes that risk. He crosses that line. Did it kill him? No, but it could have.
So Spider-Man’s friends — and we the readers — have seen him do things that are horribly irresponsible, practically criminal, and/or ethically gray. It’s just that something pulls him back at the last moment, or something redeems him, or the hand of god throws something like the Man-Wolf in his way. So he’s gone to dark places before and at no time do the Avengers go, “We have to scan his brain!” That’s not their first inclination.
So far the “Superior” Spider-Man has beaten up Boomerang, but he has beaten up people bad in the past. Then he really hurt the Vulture, but he had an explanation for Carlie about why he did it. His battle against Massacre wasn’t televised. The only people who knew what he did were the people in that building, and they’re not talking. So it really isn’t until he viciously beat up Screwball and Jester and it became a vial video — that’s when everyone started going, “What the hell?” That’s when the rest of the world saw it.
It’s tricky because people ask things like “What about Wolverine’s senses? Or Daredevil’s heightened senses?” And we’ve actually seen in both cases that those heightened senses play against them. Because their senses are telling them that smells like Peter Parker, sounds like Peter Parker, and has Peter Parker’s heartbeat. So if they’re having a bad gut reaction to Peter, their hyper senses are telling them to not trust their own guts.
â€¨Then with someone like Mary Jane we’ve seen scenes where Mary Jane has caught on to characters like the Chameleon pretending to be Peter Parker. This is completely different because this is Peter Parker. Every single atom of his body is Peter Parker. This looks, sounds, and feels like Peter more than any impersonator. The stuff coming out of his mouth sounds wrong, but the tone and the timber and everything about it says this is Peter. And if you’re MJ and you’re his soul mate, part of you feels that there’s a piece of Peter still in there — and there’s a good reason for that — because he is still in there! We as the reader get to see Ghost Peter running around, even if MJ can’t. So something is telling Mary Jane that there’s a piece of Peter still in there. That works against her gut too.
Yeah, in “Superior” #6 we even see Thor address his encounter with Spider-Man over in that book.
At the end of “Superior” #7 it feels like Wolverine is also addressing their encounter over in “Avenging,” which ended with Otto decking him. It he seems he might even hope Spidey will resists the Avengers’ attempts to subdue him.
Right. He wants some payback, but Wolverine is also somebody who’s gone off on tears. He’s had his freak outs before and was actually speaking on behalf of Spidey in issue #6. He said, “What’s he done that we haven’t done?” This is Wolverine who ran black ops with X-Force. They’re out there killing kids for god’s sake! And look, there are super spies Spider-Woman and the Black Widow. How many down and dirty jobs have they done for S.H.I.E.L.D.? And how many times has Thor caved in a frost giant’s skull? How many Nazis did Cap shove into a ravine? All these guys have blood on their hands.
How off guard was Otto caught by the Avengers’ accusations? It seems like he reacted in the worst way possible.
He was not expecting an intervention. He was expecting to rocket off into space on some Avengers-level emergency. In his mind, they were obviously waiting for him because he’s the best hero they have. So this was a complete blindside and the one thing he does not want to do is to be strapped down to a table and have all these tests run on him. That’s the last thing he wants to do. He has to get out of the there.
If I understand correctly there will be two big fights in issue #8 — Spider-Man versus the Avengers and then a rematch with Cardiac?
Can you tell us anything about these battles?
NO! Read the book! [Laughs]
Let’s move on to “Superior Spider-Man” #9, which was teased early last week by Marvel with an image that suggested Ghost Pete and Otto are going to have some form of a “conversation.” Can you tell us anything about the issue?
Issue #9 is the game changer. Otto is becoming more and more aware that something is going on inside his mind. So we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out.
It was also mentioned that issue #9 would have an ending on par with the jaw dropping “Amazing Spider-Man” #700 and “Superior Spider-Man” #1. Is that correct?
The issue is definitely going to have an emotional ending.
Then in “Superior Spider-Man” #10 you pick up with the activities of the recently resurfaced Green Goblin. How busy has been the Goblin been since his last appearance in “Superior Spider-Man?”
He’s been very, very busy.
Can you talk at all about the role he’ll play in this issue and perhaps the series in general?
No! [Laughs] Absolutely not. We’ve been giving people too many looks under the skirt. It’s stopping now!
[Laughs] Okay, but is this the Spider-Man office reclaiming Norman Osborn and the villainous legacy he created?
Who says the Goblin is Norman Osborn?
See! All we’ve seen is the Green Goblin in a mask and that Norman Osborn’s bed in the coma ward is empty. That’s all we’ve seen. I’m not going to connect the dots for you.
So there’s a mystery at play with the Goblin’s identity?
Maybe… maybe not. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Okay, moving on. The solicit text for issue #10 mentions that this is good jumping on point for “Superior Spider-Man.” How new reader friendly is issue #10?
It definitely is new reader friendly, but I think we always do a pretty good job with the book’s accessibility even when we’re in the middle of a two-parter.
Then with issue #11 you kick off a new story line titled “No Escape?”
What can you tell us about the plot of “No Escape?” The solicits suggest that it picks up elements from both the “Big Time” and “Superior” eras of Spider-Man.
There are major story lines that have not been resolved and have been floating out there since “Big Time” that come to a head in “No Escape.” And there are repercussions for all of Superior Spider-Man’s actions to date, going all the way back to “Dying Wish.”
Was this story line foreshadowed in “Superior Spider-Man” #6 when Jameson told the press that he wanted to shut down the super prison known as the Raft?
Yes, Jameson is sick and tired of the Raft being right off the tip of Manhattan. When villains break out of the prison they’re right next door to Manhattan. That makes things easy for Marvel writers, but it’s the silliest thing in the world to allow if you’re in a position of power in New York City. Why would you want that?
The solicits for “No Escape” suggest an almost “Die Hard”-style action feel because they imply that Spider-Man and several of his supporting cast are stuck on the Raft during an attempted prison break. Who are some of the villains that might pop up?
From the covers you already know that you’re going to see Scorpion, Boomerang and the Vulture. And we just revealed the cover to “Superior” #13 which features the Lizard. He’s still locked up on the Raft and plays a part in “No Escape.”
You mentioned Boomerang who plays a large role in Nick Spencer’s upcoming “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” series. Will “No Escape” help set that series up?
Yes it will.
We’ve talked about Spidey and his villains. Let’s chat a little bit more about some supporting players. You’ve been dealing with both established and new characters in “Superior Spider-Man” like Doc Ock’s tutor, Anna Maria Marconi. Who are some of the supporting players that will have screen time in the issues that have been solicited so far?
In upcoming issues you can expect to see more with Anna Marie Marconi and Don “The Schnoz” Lamaz who is Doc Ock’s teacher at Empire State University.
You can also expect to see some interesting developments for Carlie Cooper and some more screen time for Mary Jane Watson. Then as always we’ll have some scenes with Aunt May, her husband Jay, and his son Jonah. There will be lots with Jonah! These next few issues will have a lot of big developments for Jonah.
These next few issues will feature the wealth of artistic talent that is Team “Superior Spider-Man.” Since everyone you work with is so versatile, how do you decide who draws a specific tale? When you’re coming up with stories do you think, “This is one for Ryan Stegman, and that’s one for Humberto Ramos”?
When I throw out stories to my editor Steve Wacker and we plot things out he’s the one that makes the call. He’ll say, “That sounds like a Stegman story” or “That sounds like a Humberto story or one for Camo.”
Once I know who’s on the story, though, I try to tailor it to the particular strengths of my guys, the best damn art team in comics!
Finally, “Superior Spider-Man” #14 was announced via solicitations last week. What can you tell us about this issue? The solicit text suggests that everything about the title characters is escalating including his war on crime.
In issue #14 you’ll see new allies for Spider-Man. He’ll also have a new look and new costume, but more than anything you’re going to see an all-new agenda; a whole new way of doing things.
Out of every character that’s ever called themselves Spider-Man, in any reality, in continuity, none of them has ever done this! This is a whole new way of being Spider-Man. I’m really excited about it. And that kicks off in “Superior Spider-Man” #14!
“Superior Spider-Man” #8 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos is on sale now. You can check out a preview right here on CBR.