Spider-Man may be one of the unluckiest heroes in the Marvel Universe, but his best friend Harry Osborn is no stranger to misfortune either, his biggest bit of bad luck being born to his father, Norman Osborn. Growing up, Harry suffered vicious emotional abuse at the hands of Norman, who continued to torment him well into his adult years. Norman created the villainous legacy of the Green Goblin, which Harry took up after his father seemingly died. Harry also appeared to die at one point, but the Goblin formula that transformed father and son into glider-riding super villains also gave them a healing factor, and soon both Harry and Norman “returned” to life.
When Harry came back to New York City, he started dating Lily Hollister, eventually asking for her hand in marriage, but his father found a way to ruin that, too. Lily discovered an old journal of Harry’s that lead her to a warehouse containing some of Norman’s Green Goblin equipment and an experimental version of the Goblin formula, which she was exposed too and absorbed through her skin. She used the abilities the formula gave her and the equipment to create Menace, a villainous alter ego. Lily set out to use Menace’s activities as a way to advance the political career of her father, but like Norman and Harry, the Goblin formula began to affect her sanity, making her extremely unstable and violent. Eventually, she was arrested and came into the custody of Norman Osborn, whose Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe at the time gave him access to super powered convicts.
The legacy of the Goblin corrupting Lily wasn’t enough for Norman, who saw Lily as both a kindred spirit and a tool to get Harry back under his thumb. Norman struck up a relationship with Lily, and it soon became apparent that she was pregnant. Now, the Dark Reign of Osborn is over, the Heroic Age has begun and Lily is on the run from the law and a horde of fearsome villains trying to take her baby to use to advance their own nefarious agendas. It sounds like a job for your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man! And it will be in “Origin of the Species,” a six part “Amazing Spider-Man” arc by writer Mark Waid and artist Paul Azaceta. CBR News spoke with Waid about the story which begins in September’s “Amazing Spider-Man” #642
CBR News: Mark, This is your first Spider-Man “tentpole” arc. How does it feel to be part of such a big story? Has it been more challenging to write than other “Amazing Spider-Man” tales?
Mark Waid: I’ll say. I mean, certainly, I and the artists I work with always give 100%, whether it’s a five-page story or a five-issue epic, but with a “tentpole” arc, you want to be able to incorporate lots of villains, lots of supporting characters, lots of character moments and lots of action – and do it all naturally and organically so that nothing feels superfluous or tacked-on. That’s a lot of chainsaws to juggle. Luckily, we’ve got just the right kind of story with which to to do this – and make it a blockbuster.
When this arc begins, Spidey will have just gone through two very emotional stories: “Grim Hunt” and “One Moment in Time.” How would you describe Peter’s outlook when “Origin of the Species” begins? Is he at a low point emotionally, or are things looking up for Spider-Man?
We’re coming right out of some of the events and revelations in “One Moment in Time,” so I’d say things are looking up for Pete the same way that things are always looking up for Charlie Brown in that one second before he throws the first pitch of the game…and we all know how that turns out. Seriously, Pete really, really needs a win after all the pain he’s suffered recently – and, in fact, that’s a major plot-point that, midway through the story, drives him with an intensity I don’t recall us ever seeing before with Spider-Man. He needs a win more than he’s ever, ever needed one in his entire career – and if he doesn’t pull one out this time, there will be no bottom to the dark spiral he’s spinning down.
It sounds like one of the main characters of this story is Lily Hollister, who we haven’t seen since the end of Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign. How has that effected her emotionally? Has losing Norman made her more or less dangerous?
Let’s just say the danger in this story doesn’t come from her – well, not directly – and leave it at that for now.
In terms of plot and themes, what is “Origin of the Species” about?
The unholy union of Osborn and Lily has given us a baby…the first baby born with Goblin blood. And everyone wants it. It’s a hell of a bargaining chip. The government wants it because they realize it’s a loose end. The Marvel Universe bad guys want it because, even with Norman in jail and disgraced, he could someday rise to power again or even be bargained with in prison to divulge knowledge and secrets. And what Ock wants it for…ugh. Wait and see.
How would you describe the tone of “Origin of the Species?”
Frenetic. Spidey’s being chased by every villain in town all at once, and it’s the fastest-paced story we’ve told in a while – I haven’t clocked it out yet, but my guess is that the entire six issues take place pretty much in one long afternoon. That’s how fast and furious it gets. Tons of action – but at the core of it, an emotional side to Spider-Man that we don’t get to see very often.
The last time we saw Doctor Octopus was in “Amazing Spider-Man” #600, where Dan Slott established a new status quo for him. How does it feel to write your first Doc Ock story? What do you find most compelling about the new take on the character?
I love what Dan Slott set up with Ock – that he’s living on borrowed time and is acting with a calculated intensity the likes of which we’ve not seen from him previously, even at his worst. I love the new look of him, too – he’s the most terrifying, least helpless, most powerful invalid you could imagine.
Who are some of the other important supporting players in this story? I imagine we’ll see Harry Osborn, and it’s clear that Norman’s presence will be felt in this story, but can you reveal if he’ll actually make an o-panel appearance?
Norman’s more of a presence than a player, but certainly Harry’s a major character – that’s his half-brother we’re talking about! Carlie’s here, as is MJ, as is (of course, in any Spidey story I write, my favorite) JJJ. And a raft of bad guys, from Ock to Lizard to Rhino to Electro to Sandman to Kraven to several surprises!
For “Origin of the Species,” you’re working with Paul Azaceta who you collaborated with on the Electro storyline, “Power to the People,” which ran through “Amazing” #612-614. What can people expect from his work on this storyline? Will it be similar to your Electro tale, or does this story call for a different approach?
It’s a slightly different, more colorful and open approach, but Paul’s storytelling is still top-notch; he’s one of the most gifted artist and storytellers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Unlike some of our other collaborations, which were a little more urban and gritty, Paul knows he’s telling a mile-a-minute superhero story in the Mighty Marvel Manner here – and he’s risen to the challenge!
In addition to crafting the next big chapter of the Spider-Man saga, you’re also hard at work as the editor in chief of BOOM! Studios. What BOOM! titles would you recommend for readers that may be intrigued by your work on “Origins of the Species?”
At the risk of sounding utterly self-serving, I would recommend “Irredeemable” and “Incorruptible,” our two superhero titles – but if you’re new to Paul’s work or want to see more, pick up the “Potter’s Field” hardcover!
Any final thoughts you would like to share with us about “Origin of the Species?”
Yeah – watching Carlie and MJ interact in a really meaningful way is a blast and will please fans of both characters, I’m pretty certain!