Freaking Out: Gale talks "Amazing Spider-Man"

Writer Bob Gale is probably most famous for the "Back to the Future" film trilogy he scripted, but he'll be trading in his time traveling Delorean for a pair of web-shooters when Marvel Comics' "Amazing Spider-Man" #552 hits stores this week. CBR News spoke with Gale about his work on the series.

Gale's first comics work was an issue of DC Comics' 1999 epic Batman storyline "No Man's Land." In 2005, he penned a six-part "Daredevil" story that ran through issues #20-25. And now with his work on "Amazing Spider-Man" he's completed a hat trick of stories starring street-level costumed vigilantes. "I think they're more 'relate-able' than the more cosmic characters; they have clear limits in their powers and/or their personal lives. That makes them more fallible and to me, more interesting," Bob Gale told CBR News. "Of course, no one's ever offered me the opportunity to write one of the more cosmic characters, so I've never spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of story I'd tell with them."


Gale was writing solo on previous gigs, but with "Amazing Spider-Man," he's part of a team of regularly rotating scribes, which has proven to be both helpful and demanding. "It's great in that you have a lot of talented guys who are ready, willing and able to offer ideas and suggestions to make your story and script better," Gale said. It can also be challenging to keep everyone else's plot points in mind so that your story doesn't impinge on anyone else's."

The beginning of Gale's first three-part story finds Peter Parker trying to make sense of the tumultuous events of the past few issues. "Pete is in his fairly standard state of confusion, guilt and doubt," Gale explained. "He's bothered by the events surrounding the death of the character who got killed in # 551 (no spoilers here!), he's concerned about Menace, the Spider-Tracer killings are definitely on his mind, he's got financial woes, and he's dealing with the upheaval at the DB [the recently renamed Daily Bugle]. Of those, probably the Tracer-Killings are weighing heaviest."


Making Spider-Man's life even more chaotic is The Freak, a brand new super-villain who makes his debut in issue #552. The Freak is born when a drug addict breaks into The Lizard's lab and walks away with a batch of animal stem cells. The junkie's desperate desire to get high leads him to shoot up with the stem cells, which transform him into the latest villain out to make life miserable for Spider-Man.

Freak is the third new Spider-Man villain to appear in as many months, but there's no one criminal mastermind behind the sudden explosive increase in Spidey's rogues' gallery. "'Brand New Day' also means brand new villains, and as part of the concept we decided it would be good to expand Spidey's rogues' gallery and put a moratorium on old villains for a few months," Gale explained. "And that way, no one can complain, 'Aw, hell, that Gale guy doesn't have a clue about how to write Doc Ock!'"


Gale doesn't plan on giving Peter Parker a break during his initial three- issue storyline. In addition to The Freak, Spider-Man's life will also become complicated by the ongoing New York City Mayoral race. "You'll also see a lot more of NYPD officers Vin Gonzales and Alan O'Neil, who were first introduced in the Free Comic Book Day Spider-Man story 'Swing Shift,' and they will be continuing members of the supporting cast," Gale remarked. "You'll also see 'The Bookie' again – also first seen in "Swing Shift." His brief appearances in 552 and 553 seed a bigger appearance in June."

While Spider-Man's life may be very turbulent, the tone of Gale's initial three-parter is far from grim and gritty. "One hallmark of 'BND' is that we've tried to bring back Spidey's wisecracks and lighten the overall tone," Gale said. "For instance, J. Jonah Jameson is recovering from a heart attack, but we're trying to make his recovery entertaining. Dexter Bennett [the new owner of the Daily Bugle] has his own personality which creates a particular tone for scenes at the paper, while the more serious issues regarding Freak and his connection to Curt Connors, The Lizard, are dealt with in a way that reflects their gravity."

Bringing to life Gale's story is artist Phil Jimenez, who made his "Spider-Man" debut with the aforementioned "Swing Shift" story. "Phil brings a lot of spectacle to the story. You look at his pages and you just know that a lot is going on here," Gale said. "And story wise, there is a lot going on!"

While Gale's first "Amazing Spider-Man" story is only three parts, fans won't have to wait long for his next tale of the Wall-Crawler. Gale returns with May's "Amazing Spider-Man" #558, a story drawn by Barry Kitson, which features Spidey's rematch with The Freak. "Have you ever seen a story where they bring back a villain and he's weaker than before? I assure you, #558 will not be that story!" Gale stated. "Barry Kitson is doing some phenomenal work on #558, and all Spider-fans are in for a treat to see how he handles Webhead and the cast."

Having completed his first major arc, Gale now has an understanding and appreciation of what the editorial team of "Amazing Spider-Man" has to do to make sure it ships three times a month. In fact, Gale helps out editor Stephen Wacker by taking on extra duty in issue #553. "I'm doing the letter column in #553," the writer said. "So you'll really get to see what type of asylum Wacker is riding herd on!"

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