It’s the last day of this year’s Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, but Marvel isn’t finished yet — the publisher hosted a “Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends” panel midday Sunday, with creators including “Amazing Spider-Man” and “Clone Conspiracy” writer Dan Slott, frequent Spidey writer Christos Gage, “Spider-Woman” writer Dennis Hopeless, “Silk” writer Robbie Thompson, “Spidey Zine” cartoonist Hannah Blumenreich and “Spider-Man/Deadpool” writer Joe Kelly. Given the currently bustling extended Spider-Man line and the recent return of Ben Reilly, there’s a lot to talk about.
The panel started with Marvel editor Jake Thomas asking the panelists for their early Spider-Man memories, and some brief discussion of their recent work. Slott told the story of meeting “Spider-Man” at a 7-11 as a young kid — Thompson said he met Spider-Man as well as a child, at an Ace Hardware. Gage shared that he still owns his first Spidey comic, “Amazing Spider-Man” #161.
Kelly told the crowd of his history with Spider-Man, and shared his enthusiasm for writing his two favorite characters in “Spider-Man/Deadpool.” “It stared out with those two guys becoming friends, and now things are starting to go badly,” Kelly said of “Spider-Man/Deadpool.”
Hopeless briefly addressed the imminent end of his time writing “Spider-Woman.” “With issue #17, we’re going to give her some happiness,” Hopeless said of the book’s title character, noting he was emotional about the series ending but proud of how it fared. “Nobody thought we were going to do 28 issues of Spider-Woman.”
Turning to audience Q&A, the first fan up to the microphone asked if Mysterio would be seen in the comics at any time soon. “I put him in the hospital,” Kelly answered. “And I love Mysterio. He’s, I think, my No. 1 favorite Spider-Man villain. I just love that character so much.”
“I resurrected one of the dead Mysterios, and then killed him again,” Slott added.
Next question: Was there any other villain who could have filled Doctor Octopus’ role in “Superior Spider-Man”? “It was always a Doc Ock story,” Slott answered.
Next question: Favorite alternate version of Spider-Man? Gage named the ’60s animated Spider-Man. “He’s dated, but he’s so earnest about everything.” Hopeless picked Spider-Gwen, for his friendship with Jason Latour.
A fan asked Kelly if he still has a notebook where he keeps ideas for jokes. Kelly said he hasn’t for a long time. “It was mostly for ‘your mama’ jokes,” Kelly replied. “You definitely don’t want to use other people’s jokes, but your mama jokes are like public domain.”
What would your ideal job for Peter Parker be if he wasn’t a CEO? Blumenreich: High school teacher. Gage: “That was fun. My first Spider-Man story that appeared in ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ was Spider-Man teaching Avengers Academy kids how to be superheroes.” Slott: “I’m not going to tell you, because you’re probably going to see it in the comic.” Thompson joked that he’d like to see Spider-Man as a retiree.
A fan who began his question by saying he was “devastated” by “One More Day” and “One Moment in Time” asked about Kelly’s use of Mephisto, central to “One More Day,” in “Spider-Man/Deadpool.” “I’ve literally been getting asked that question so much in recent weeks,” Kelly said. “It was cool to use [Mephisto] as a villain because Peter is such a pure soul. I get that somebody in hell wants that soul. Then if you happen to know that other story, it’s got an extra layer of resonance to it.”
Kelly said it was a “double-layer” moment, where if you knew “One More Day,” you knew what was being referenced with something “missing” about Peter Parker, but he’s not going to be explicit about it. “I’m not going beyond much what’s there,” Kelly said. “You’re probably not going to see him hit it on the nose at any time soon.”
Will there be a return of the Ned Leeds Hobgoblin? “Keep reading,” Slott answered. “I think something’s going to happen soon that will either upset you, or make you happy.”
A fan asked the panel about the personal significance Spider-Man (or his friends) has to them. “I exorcised every demon I had,” Hopeless said of writing “Spider-Woman” as a new father. “For me, ‘Spider-Woman’ is about explaining humanity and everything that’s hard about life, and why that’s the best thing about life.”
“I think Spider-Man is the crown jewel of all comics,” Thompson said. “He never gives up. That, to me, is incredibly inspirational.” “From the beginning, he had real problems,” Kelly added. “If he can do it, maybe I can do to it, too.” “To me, what was most important was how Spidey copes,” Slott said. “He uses humor on so many levels, to cope when things make him feel bad, to put civilians at ease, to rile his villains. For him, humor is like this Swiss army knife.”
“Kindness,” Blumenreich responded to how Spider-Man has inspired her. “That he looks at everybody and sees the best of them, though I think at times that backfires.”
Thomas shared something he learned from former Marvel editor and current Marvel Animation VP Steve Wacker, that Spider-Man was something of a jerk in his original appearance when he first received powers, and then became a hero. “That’s a character that’s evolved way more than anyone’s thought about.”
Next fan up asked what inspired Slott to use relatively obscure characters like Cardiac. “I want to use every part of the Buffalo,” Slott said. “You can read the first Spidey mini I did, ‘Spider-Man/Human Torch ,’ where it spans the whole history. I love every era. I love using every piece of the Spider-Verse.”
A fan expressed that he enjoyed Superior Spider-Man’s appearances in other comics at the time of the run, where it wasn’t necessarily explained what was happenings with Spider-Man, he was just mean. Slott said when he pitched “Superior Spider-Man” at a Marvel retreat, his fellow writers were hesitant to use the Superior version, saying, “You know, that’s a really good story, but maybe it should be six issues.” Then, he said, Mark Waid used Superior Spider-Man in “Daredevil” and it sold well, and then, he said, writers became much more enthusiastic about using the character.
How old is Spider-Man? “Physically, somewhere between 25 and 35, we’ll never peg it down,” Slott said. “Emotionally, 15.”
An audience member asked about the upcoming oversized “Amazing Spider-Man” #25, which has a cover price of $9.99 and starts the “Osborn Identity” arc. Slott expressed his enthusiasm for the book’s contents, including a 40-page story by him and Stuart Immonen, debuting on the series, and Hannah Blumenreich’s first Marvel work. “I didn’t know what the price was going to be ahead of time, but now that I do, I’m not worried,” “It’s going to be worth it.”
Last question, for Blumenreich: After doing an unauthorized zine, what was it like being contacted by Marvel to contribute to “Amazing Spider-Man”? “I liked that it wasn’t a cease and desist,” she answered.
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