In the Thin Lizzy song “Jail Break” the band sings, “Tonight there’s gonna be a jail break somewhere in the town. Tonight there’s gonna be a jail break so don’t you be around.” Unfortunately, for our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man, he was around and now he’s caught in the crossfire between two warring gangs of escaped super criminals. This is the premise of “Spider-Man: Breakout” a five issue mini-series from Marvel Comics written by Tony Bedard with art by Manuel Garcia. CBR News spoke with Bedard who gave CBR News the lowdown on the project.
“Spider-Man: Breakout” spun out of the massive jailbreak that took place in the first two issues of “New Avengers.” “I think they’d probably had an editorial meeting in which they discussed the ‘Breakout’ story line in ‘New Avengers’ and realized it would have a huge ripple effect in the Marvel Universe if all these villains were suddenly back on the street,” Bedard told CBR News. “It’s too big a story for just one series to contain.”
All it took to get Bedard to write the book was a phone call. “Editor Warren Simons called me up one day and asked if I’d be interested in telling a story about Spidey taking on a bunch of escaped super-villains,” Bedard explained. ” Simple as that.”
“Breakout” takes place after the events of “New Avengers” #2, just a couple of weeks after the big breakout. “New York City is on edge, knowing some of these bad guys are still at large, and the Raft is still recovering from the riot. Most of all, the New Avengers are still coming together, not quite officially gelled as a team yet.”
Bedard believes the length of “Breakout” is perfect. “This is five issues, which is enough to give it some scope and depth without wearing out our welcome,” said Bedard. “There are at least ten villains in this tale, and we get to spend some quality time with each of them, as well as Spider-Man.”
The quality time with Spider-Man will be spent exploring his character. Bedard believes Spidey’s every man qualities and his sense of humor are two of his defining traits. “You could relate to his money problems and his unpopularity and family stress,” Bedard said. “He’s also defined by feelings of guilt and responsibility which resonate with most of us. And, of course, there are the wisecracks which make him so much fun to read.”
“Breakout” takes place during a major turning point in Spider-Man’s heroic career. “What I wanted to examine in ‘Spider-Man: Breakout’ is this new development in his life,” Bedard explained. “Suddenly, the ultimate loner finds himself connected to a team. He’s always been an outsider; the Avengers are the part of the Establishment. How does he reconcile this change in his life? Is he even sure this is the right thing for him? Will being an Avenger end up tying his hands somehow? Will it compromise the identity and persona he’s grown comfortable with? There’s a lot of fresh territory to cover here, aside from the fact that he’s fighting for his life against all these costumed super-goons.”
Spider-Man’s fight will be even more complicated because he’s facing many of these villains for the first time. “It’s the U-Foes (Vector, Vapor, X-Ray and Ironclad) against a gang of mind-control villains led by super spy-terrorist Crossfire,” Bedard said. “Crossfire’s Crew also includes the Controller, the Corrupter, the Mandrill and Mister Fear. I’d say we really focus on the two leaders, Vector and Crossfire, but I really try to give all of these guys a moment to shine. They’re all pretty unusual villains. They’re also not the classic Spider-Man Rogues Gallery types. And while I think Spidey has the best villains in comics, it’s a treat to explore some new match-ups, rather than rehash battles we’ve seen many times before.”
In addition to facing down the villains, Spidey must solve the mystery behind their activities. “In the aftermath of the big escape, most of the super crooks beat a hasty exit from New York City,” Bedard said. “But for some reason two groups of inmates have remained in town carrying on a gang war that began while they were in prison. Because these two factions have open skirmishes every other day, hurting people all around town, Spidey and S.H.I.E.L.D. are both keen to stop them. But when S.H.I.E.L.D. proves to be of limited help, Spidey sets off on his own to figure out what these guys are after. His investigation leads him to someone, who double-crossed all of the villains long ago, which is why they’re sticking around: to get revenge. Spidey finds that in order to stop them, he’s going to have to essentially wreck the life of a good person.”
“Spider-Man: Breakout” features appearances by regular members of Spidey’s supporting cast and a variety of guest stars. “We see brief appearances by Mary Jane, the Black Cat, and the Owl,” Bedard said. “There are bigger guest-appearances by Captain America, Iron Man and various members of S.H.I.E.L.D.. There’s also a new character who is central to the plot, but her precise role is the mystery that Spidey has to unravel if he’s going to get a step ahead of these marauding jailbirds, so I don’t want to reveal too much about her just yet.”
The tone in “Spider-Man: Breakout” is similar to that of one of the most successful stories by Marvel’s Distinguished Competition. “It’s sort of a mix between all-out action and potboiler mystery,” Bedard explained. “There are massive street battles and web-slinging action, but there is also a lot of complex skullduggery and clever sleuthing as Spidey and both sets of bad guys race against each other to find the woman at the heart of this conflict. The nearest thing I could compare it to in terms of tone is ‘Identity Crisis,’ which was a cool mystery punctuated by awesome battles.”
Bedard praised the work of his collaborator on “Spider-Man: Breakout,” Manuel Garcia. “I really have to call attention to the awesome art by Manuel Garcia. If you want to catch a rising star and you missed his work on ‘Mystique,’ you owe it to yourself to check out ‘Spider-Man: Breakout.’ Manuel is going to be a big name soon. His pencils remind me of J.G. Jones back in the day.”
Bedard had a blast working on “Spider-Man: Breakout.” He got to craft a story with some of his favorite heroes and villains and he got to conduct some interesting and shocking research. “I’m friends with a couple who both used to work as prison guards. A lot of the stories they told me about the strange and awful things inmates do to survive made it into this tale,” Bedard said. “Of course, there were a lot of stories that could never make it into a Spider-Man comic, too! But you wouldn’t believe the deadly things you can do with a roll of plastic wrap!”
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