Dan Slott's Got A "List"

Believe it or not, fighting supervillains isn't exactly the scariest part of Spider-Man's job. If you fight a villain enough times, you know what to expect from them - they can get predictable. No, the most frightening aspect of being Spider-Man is when a villain the hero has fought many times before suddenly changes things up and does something he couldn't have anticipated.

Last year, Spider-Man's arch-enemy, Norman Osborn, did something very unexpected managed to become one of the most powerful people in the Marvel Universe. This week, Osborn finally set his sights on taking down Spider-Man in the one-shot "Dark Reign: The List - Amazing Spider-Man" by writer Dan Slott and artist Adam Kubert.

Next on Slott's Spider-Man docket is the rteturn of Mysterio. In January, the writer will tell another tale of a Spider-Man foe doing something unexpected when he brings Spider-Man's old nemesis back for a three issue "Amazing Spider-Man" arc illustrated by artist Marcos Martin. Part of "The Gauntlet," a larger Spider-Man storyline that brings back several of the Webslinger's classic villains, Slott will pit Spidey against the Master of Illusion. CBR News spoke with Slott about both projects.

CBR NEWS: How accessible to new readers is "Dark Reign: The List - Amazing Spider-Man/" Do you need to know what's been going on in "Amazing Spider-Man" or the other "Dark Reign" titles in order to enjoy it?

Dan Slott: If you're someone who's been reading "Amazing," there are elements in there that will pay off a number of storylines, but if you're someone who hasn't been reading "Amazing" and just been picking up the "Dark Reign" titles, we bring you up to speed as we go. Hopefully, this is a really good done in one story that anyone can jump into whether they're a Spider-Man fan or "Dark Reign" fan. And it pays off big for both worlds.

"The List - Amazing Spider-Man" is the last issue Marvel's interconnected "Dark Reign: The List" one-shots, which found Norman Osborn targeting various enemies. Why do you feel Osborn held Spider-Man for the last thing to cross off of his list??

He's saved the best for last. If you're Norman Osborn and you've created this entire empire, taking down Spider-Man is something you want savor.

Norman and Spider-Man have tangled many times over the years. Was it a challenge to make their confrontation in "The List - Amazing Spider-Man" something that stands out and is special?

Yes. Ever since "Dark Reign" started, everyone has been wondering when these two guys are going to throw down. When is that going to happen? Plus, we've never seen this set up before in "Amazing Spider-Man," where Norman Osborn is basically running the world. You're never going to have Spider-Man in more of an underdog position, and you're never going to have Norman Osborn in more of a top dog position. It's an exciting thing to write.

[The one-shot] involves big changes. All of "The List" issues have had had major things happen in them. Ronin gets thrown in prison, Bruce Banner is exposed to gamma rays and will become the Hulk again, Daredevil fails to save over 100 people from Bullseye. When I first heard what they were doing in the Punisher issue of "The List," my jaw dropped. It was like, "Wow! All of these books are going to be huge and important." So imagine the stress of that. I'm the clean up batter for Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Andy Diggle, Jonathan Hickman, Greg Pak, Jason Aaron, and Rick Remender. It's all the biggest and rising stars of Marvel. So it's like, "Okay. No pressure!" [Laughs] But it's also pretty cool.

Spider-Man and Norman Osborn used to be pretty equal in terms of a physical match up. Has that changed at all now that Norman Osborn has donned the battle armor of the Iron Patriot?

This is Spidey and Norman going toe-to-toe, but Norman is in an Iron Man style suit of armor. That's not good. That shouldn't end well.

What can you tell us about the supporting cast of your issue of "The List?"

We're going to see some stuff with Norah Winters, who's been a major character in Spider-Man's world. We'll also touch base with Ben Urich and Joe Robertson and some of the other cast at the newspaper 'Front Line'. There might also be an appearance by some extra cast members here and there.

Adam Kubert is the artist for Spider-Man's "The List" issue - what was it like working with him?

It was awesome. When Adam's pages came in, and I'd open the files on my computer, I felt like that guy in the ads for Maxell tapes - totally blown away. This book really is one of the most beautiful looking projects I've ever gotten to work on, especially when you add Mark Morales's inks and Dean White's colors to Adam's pencils. Every step of the way, and every page that came in, the art just got more and more intense. When pages came in, they would kick off these mutual admiration society style e-mail chains. We we're just gushing over everything. I'm really excited to see the whole thing come together.

Do you know if you and Adam will be working together on more Spider-Man stories in the future?

I sure as hell hope so. One of the things everyone kept saying through the whole job was how much we wanted to work together again. That was one of the great things about "Dark Reign: The List." We all got to change partners and work with people we've never worked with before. When Brian Michael Bendis and Matt Fraction pitched "The List," they did so with the idea of getting the best and brightest at Marvel and mixing them around so they can tell these massive stories that lead to big changes in the Marvel U.

How big of an impact does "Dark Reign: The List - Amazing Spider-Man" have on the final chapters of "Dark Reign?"

In 'Mighty Avengers' I'm writing an upcoming storyline that involves a dust up with the Dark Avengers. The events that happen in my issue of 'The List' meant that I had to go back and change some of those scripts. Because that story takes place afterwards and it there HAD to be repercussions.

"Amazing Spider-Man" #618 comes out in mid-January and kicks off a three part arc with Mysterio, a villain you're known to have an affinity for. What is it about Mysterio that you find so compelling?

Mysterio, more than any other Spidey villain, messes with your head. When you're going up against Mysterio, up is down and black is white. Everything gets messed up on every possible level. There's some really good WTF moments in the Mysterio arc [Laughs].

From the solicits, it sounds as though you're portraying Mysterio as more of a criminal businessman than a supervillain. Is that true?

Mysterio is in league with the Maggia crime families. He's providing them with a service. What that is and how it all comes down is really going to change the crime and gang war elements that have been part of the ongoing story in "Amazing Spider-Man" - especially Mister Negative's war on the Maggia.

I've wanted to do this story with Mysterio for a while now. We touched on it briefly in my Molten Man arc in "Amazing" from last year. That happened because, way back in our first meeting on "Amazing Spider-Man," we found out that Harry Osborn was coming back, and I wanted the explanation for Harry's return to be comic-book-fair. I wanted to make sure that it wasn't from left field and that if the new status quo in "Amazing" hadn't happened, Harry would still be back.

I had everything kind of set up, and I knew I was going to write the story. We plan things so far ahead, though, that at one point I discovered that I had forgotten about one story in particular, Kurt Busiek and Mark Texeira's "Legacy of Evil." I was all set to go, and I had to kind of put the breaks on my story because in "Legacy of Evil" they unearth Harry's body. How am I going to get around that? That kind of put a stopper in things for a bit. Then someone suggested that, since I'd been wanting to do my Mysterio story for a while, I should just bring him in for the explanation of Harry's return too. And it worked. So it's kind of neat when one of your stories solves the problems of another.

Based on what you've said, it sounds like this story is very much a streetwise crime tale, correct?

Yep. You're going to see Mister Negative, Hammerhead, and some surprises from beyond the grave.

Will you also be picking up some threads from Fred Van Lente's "Dark Reign: Mister Negative" story.

Yes, you're definitely going to see some of the threads from Fred's mini - which is out in a collection soon. That said ,you can jump into this as a new reader and still follow what's going on.

Marvel's solicitations for January reveal that Carlie Cooper is one of the major supporting players in the Mysterio arc. What do you find most interesting about her?

Carlie is fun because like Peter she's a tech head. She's also like him in his pre-Spider-Man days in that she's kind of a shy, nerdy girl who likes a person that doesn't really notice her all that much. But unlike the other girls in Peter's life, Carlie is a ghoul!

Because of her job as a forensics investigator, she'll carve up a body and get her hands in there. Half the time when she's talking to Pete, she'll be zipping up a body bag. Or she's lifting up a visor while wearing a blood spattered smock going, "Hi Pete!"

I don't think we've seen someone like that before. Most of the girls in Peter Parker's world are very glamorous: Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane, and even Norah has a trendy/cute look. Everybody has their style together-- except Carlie Cooper, who's a wonderful mess. I love that about her.

Carlie last appeared in "Amazing Spider-Man" #600. Will she be making any appearances in the title before your Mysterio arc?

She appears in Fred Van Lente's upcoming Sandman story, which is great. So you'll see her there, and then the Mysterio arc involves some big revelations about her past. She also plays a role in the done-in-one story I'm doing with Michael Lark that immediately follows the Mysterio arc and involves Spidey, The Black Cat, and Mister Negative.

The Mysterio arc is part of a larger story arc titled "The Gauntlet" which sees the return of many of Spidey's classic foes and also details the Kraven family's ongoing vendetta against the Wallcrawler. Is there anything you can tell us about how your Mysterio story, and the rest of "The Gauntlet," connects with the Kraven family plot threads?

The Kraven family elements will come and go, but they are building towards something, and there are certain elements in some stories that will play into others. You'll see something happen in the Mysterio arc, which leads into the Lizard arc that Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo are doing. And like I mentioned earlier, some of the interactions with Carlie in Fred's Sandman story play into my Mysterio tale. All of these elements weave in and out of each other.

Marcos Martin is returning to "Amazing" for this arc - what is it like to be working with him once again?

Marcos is wonderful. We've got some neat stuff in this arc. I love the way he lays out a page and the energy he brings to a comic, plus his work has such gorgeous lines. He's got this wonderful Steve Ditko flair, but it's still something all his own. He's so much fun to work with. I told him if I had my way, I'd keep him chained up in the basement and he'd have to draw everything I'd write.

Because of the thrice monthly nature of "Amazing Spider-Man," you and your fellow writers often work on projects months before they're solicited or shipped. With that in mind, is there anything you can tell us about the Spidey story you're writing after the Mysterio arc?

By the time you're reading this, me and my fellow Spidey writers will have just come out of a two day Spider-Man summit. So I'm talking to you from the past, and I don't know what exactly is coming out of the summit yet. I do know, though, what our major plans are, what we're aiming for, and where we're headed.

It's really fun to be part of the Spider-Man creative team and I can't wait for people to not just see "The List," but also the first issue of Mark Waid's Electro storyline in "Amazing," which is out this week and kicks off "The Gauntlet." "The Gauntlet" books are just non-stop good. At the beginning of our Spider-Man run, we weren't allowed to touch Spidey's rogues. They said, "Make your own!" Now we get to take the classic guys down off the shelf, and everyone is excited. There's just so much good stuff coming. There are stories featuring Electro, The Rhino, The Lizard, and Sandman and they're all sweet. You're up for a long good run on "Amazing Spider-Man." We're putting Spidey through his paces in "The Gauntlet," but we're having a great time doing it.

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