Even in the Marvel Universe, where death is often a temporary inconvenience, resurrection has a price. Villain-turned-hero known, Prowler recently learned this the hard way in “Amazing Spider-Man” #17 when he was murdered by a stray blast from an all-new Electro and brought back to life as a clone by a murderous mad scientist known as the Jackal.
Of course, the Jackal has a plan — and it actually makes sense to the Prowler. Now, Hobie Brown is convinced the Jackal and the resurrected Spider-Man villains in his employ are “the good guys.” Complicating matters even further is the fact that in order to stay among the living, the Prowler needs special medication that only the Jackal can provide.
That’s more or less where the “Prowler” series kicks off this October. Writer Sean Ryan and artist Jamal Campbell ‘s first arc ties in closely with the “Clone Conspiracy” event surrounding MArvel’s Spider-Man-related titles, asking how far will the Prowler go to help the Jackal build a better world? Which resurrected Spider-Man characters will he be working alongside — or against? And where might Hobie Brown’s adventures take him once “The Clone Conspiracy” has wrapped?
CBR News: The big twist for the launch of “Prowler,” of course, is the fact that Hobie Brown died in “Amazing Spider-Man” #17 and was brought back as one of the Jackal’s clones. What does that mean for your series?
Sean Ryan: My first reaction when Nick and Devin reached out to me about “Prowler” was, “Oh no — another clone story,” as I had just written “Nova,” which had kicked off with a big clone storyline. I just hope I’m not being typecast as The Clone Guy, but this story of “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy” is very different than anything that’s come before it, so I’m not too worried.
As for how Hobie is dealing with all of this, his mind is a bit of a mess. Even though he was introduced to them in a pretty volatile way in “Amazing Spider-Man #17, Hobie believes in what the Jackal and his company, NEW U, are doing, and he thinks he’s in a place that feels right. But Hobie’s thought that before. This is a character who has had many lives since he first appeared in the 1960s. He’s thought he’s found a place he belongs before, but he never stays there long. There’s going to be some of that dogging him yet again, along with some other surprises that will make things even more complicated for him that I can’t reveal until we’re a bit further into “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy.”
What does Hobie’s belief in what the Jackal is doing mean for his moral compass? What types of jobs is the Prowler being asked to do? And is he initially conflicted about what he’s doing?
Dan Slott has done a lot of work to make Hobie an important part of Peter Parker’s supporting cast over the past year. Hobie’s been put in a real position of trust, working for Peter and wearing the webs when Peter can’t, which matters. Hobie grappling with his past, and how he deals with his guilt, is something Dan has explored as well, and something that we’ll pick up on.
But at the start of this story, I would say that Hobie’s not in a morally compromised place. From where he’s sitting, the events of “Amazing Spider-Man” #17 probably look very differently than they do to you or me. After all, he broke into NEW U and was killed by Electro. If The Jackal wanted Hobie dead, Hobie would be dead. The fact that the Jackal brought him back to life says something — The Jackal could have let Hobie die, and didn’t. That very much is playing into his psychology at this point.
Prowler believes he’s on the right team. He believes in what Jackal is trying to do, and believes it’s for the good of the whole world. He’s not that conflicted. NEW U is working for good, but Hobie knows better than anyone how rambunctious these villains are, so it’s up to him to keep an eye on them. At the start of the series, Jackal sends Prowler on a special mission. Someone’s been trying to hack into Jackal’s servers. It’s up to Prowler to discover who it is and stop them.
How big a role will the Jackal’s villainous associates play in your initial story?
Our opening five issues are all “Dead No More” tie-ins, so they’ve got a big presence, The main villain in the initial issues of “Prowler” will be the new Electro. She’s the one that killed Prowler, so the tension there is going to be very high. With Hobie as Jackal’s new favorite, there’s an interesting power struggle going on between the two of them. I wouldn’t consider her part of the supporting cast; she’s much more of a thorn in Prowler’s side. She’s a jerk and gets an enormous amount of pleasure reminding Hobie that she’s already killed him once.
I understand one resurrected Spider-character in the book is Madame Web.
Madame Web — the old one, Cassandra Webb — is a mysterious character. However altruistic the Jackal may appear to be, there’s certainly a methodology to his resurrection process, and what purpose Cassandra Webb plays in his grander designs remains to be seen.
That said, Cassandra is indeed alive again, and owes that to The Jackal, so she can find some kinship with Hobie in the similarities of their positions. Not only that, but she also has a strong connection to The Web of Life and Destiny and a bevy of psychic abilities, all of which could prove useful to someone with Prowler’s unique skillset and the arsenal he’s got at his disposal.
You mentioned a mysterious person trying to hack the Jackal’s company. What can you tell us about this character? And are there any other obstacles and adversaries that Hobie will tackle in this initial arc?
The first obstacle we throw at Prowler is a dangerous and powerful new hacker at work in the MU. NEW U has cutting-edge equipment at their disposal — we’re talking Stark-level tech — They’ve got firewalls, encryptions and every kind of computer security you can think of, but for weeks, a single hacker in the San Francisco area has been a thorn in their side. The last thing the Jackal wants is anyone getting into his research or files, so this hacker poses a serious threat to New U — a threat it’s up to Prowler to put down.
On top of that, Prowler is going to be fighting with himself, both mentally and physically. The more successful Hobie is in his work for NEW U, the more the Jackal is going to trust him, and the more Hobie is going to learn about the Jackal’s operation, his science, and how he does what he does. As a result, Hobie might learn some things he doesn’t want to know, some difficult truths about the science that brought him back to life that call into question the morality of what he’s doing. Or if he even knows what morality is anymore.
Worse still, Prowler, as a new clone, needs to take medication to prevent his physical body from decaying. Going out on his missions keeps him from his medication and his cloned body starts to fail him. Imagine how insane this comic is going to be for a second. A clone of Hobie Brown is going to go stop a rogue hacker in San Francisco when his body starts to literally molecularize. That’s some crazy high-level sci-fi adventure. This is what it’s all about, man. This is the good stuff.
And as I mentioned, there’s the new Electro, who loves the idea that maybe she’ll get a chance to kill Prowler twice.
The setup of “Prowler” ties it to the “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy” event in a major way, but does that mean the Spidey event is required reading to follow “Prowler” after the first arc wraps?
For our opening arc, readers of “Prowler” are going to want to pick up “The Clone Conspiracy” for a full picture of the story, and vice versa. That said, the opening arc of “Prowler” has been designed to be a story all its own, as well as a companion to “The Clone Conspiracy.” Thematically, there’s a lot going on that Dan has been building up to in “Amazing Spider-Man” that we’re playing with, and whether you’re a diehard “Amazing Spider-Man” fan, a Hobie Brown fan making the leap into ongoing comics again, or a Marvel fan looking for a new favorite series, “Prowler” will have something for you.
Once we hit Issue #6, though all bets are off! “The Clone Conspiracy” will have ended, and Hobie’s solo adventure will be starting in full-force!
Either place is a great jumping-on point for new readers.
What hints can you leave us with about where “Prowler” will go after the Clone Conspiracy? What types of stories are you looking to tell? And which elements of Hobie’s character do you want to dig down into and explore long term?
That’s a great question, I’ve just figured out how the tie-in issues will end, so I’ve just begun to start thinking big picture for the how the series will continue. Once we’re out of the event, we’re really blasting the doors off the series. The tie-in issues are a darker, claustrophobic story. Almost like a 70’s conspiracy thriller. So I’d like the next part of this story to feel different. Something big and insane. Prowler will continue to be figuring out who he is and what he truly wants. Like I said before, he’s a guy that has jumped from thing to thing, trying to find that thing that will make him content. He was a villain, then a hero, then a construction worker, and then a mercenary. He’s been all over the place. It’s been fascinating delving into Hobie to figure out what is wrong with this guy.
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