Meet the Spider-Woman of Earth-65, or as reader know her, Spider-Gwen. She hails from a world where a radioactive spider bite gave a teenaged Gwen Stacy super powers and Peter Parker perished after transforming himself into the Lizard. Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi introduced readers to this version of Gwen in "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2, which quickly sold out and went into multiple printings.
The character's immediate and wild popularity led to the launch of "Spider-Gwen," helmed by the same creative team, chronicling the title character's adventures as she's pursued by her police captain father and battling new takes on familiar Marvel faces, including ruthless police officer Frank Castle and Matt Murdock, the crime boss of New York City.
This October, Latour, Rodriguez and Renzi return to Earth 65 for an all-new volume of "Spider-Gwen." CBR News spoke with Latour about the appeal of the series, doing new takes on familiar Marvel characters, the new volumes initial story which flashes back to the night Peter Parker died and introduces the Osborn family of Earth 65, and how Gwen's adventures with the dimension hopping "Web Warriors" will impact her solo series.
CBR News: So Jason, you, artist Robbi Rodriguez, and colorist Rico Renzi are all coming back for a new volume of "Spider-Gwen." How does that feel?
Jason Latour: To be honest, it almost feels like we never left. The gang is all back, so basically we're just picking up where we left off. We'll sort of be treating the first couple of issues as a point where people can jump on if they missed out the first time around. Other than that, it's going to have the same sort of feel and flavor as everything we were doing before. It's just that we had a little summer vacation.
Our very first issue will hopefully do what any good #1 issue does, which is to introduce or reintroduce you to the world. Hopefully, we'll be able to accomplish that and recreate some of the excitement that people felt about the last run.
Part of what made the last run so exciting was your great protagonist, as well as the grounded yet somewhat strange world that you, Robbi and Rico created.
[Laughs] Yes, it's certainly off-kilter. I think everything we're doing with our approach to this book could be looked at as off-kilter, but I think that's a strength.
There were a lot of books prior to "Secret Wars" -- and I don't know if it was the plan by Marvel or not, but let's give them credit because they took a few chances on some off-kilter books there, heading into "Secret Wars." You got five or six issues of books like this, "Howard the Duck" and a few other series that people may have been interested in, but might not have gotten a chance to try with a regular publishing schedule.
I think if you look at comics as a whole, what we're doing is not too far out of line with the sensibilities of what a large portion of people seem to enjoy about comics these days. It just may be atypical of something from Marvel or DC in the past.
I agree, but by strangeness I meant more in the terms of the weird super science. "Spider-Gwen" takes place in a world with a very creepy Vulture, and a very interesting incarnation of the Lizard.
A lot of the approach to the book is to try and look at things from another angle. We're definitely telling a story that I want to be approachable by anyone. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I used to go to a book store and they would shelve books by gender. Just because Gwen is a young lady doesn't mean this isn't a book that a little boy or an old man can't relate to. Ideally, this should be a book that anybody can relate to.
You're not going to be able to speak to everyone, but I think the strength of the concept is not too far removed from the great power and great responsibility stuff you see in Spider-Man. We're just trying to look at it from a different angle and different lens. Some of the gender dynamics allow us to do that, but also the fact that Gwen comes from a different background and upbringing than Peter Parker, that allows us to look at responsibility in a different way.
Peter Parker sort of had responsibility thrust upon him, and Captain Stacy in particular, by virtue of how he raises his daughter, assumed great power. By becoming a cop, he took on an authority role. That has sort of filtered down into the way his daughter sees the world. What is the price of power? Of assuming authority? In taking on that responsibility, what do you owe the world? Yourself? The people in your life? That's Gwen's core conflict, and I think it's very relatable in this day and age.
When the all-new, all-different titles that are set in the Marvel Universe begin, they are picking things up eight months later. Will that be the case for "Spider-Gwen," which is set on Earth 65?
Not necessarily. [Laughs] I'm misquoting my Einstein here, but time moves differently in different places. It's all relative, right? What we're going to be doing is picking up a short while after we last saw Gwen. To take eight months off and sort of jump ahead when we'd just barely met her and her world would probably have caused more questions than we can provide answers for.â€¨When we pick up, we'll see a couple new things in terms of the status quo for Gwen, but by and large, it will be in the same continuity and not be too hard for people who have read the first five issues plus the first one-shot to pick up.
One of the great things you did in those early issues was to show that a character sharing a name with a Marvel Universe counterpart wasn't necessarily a reflection of who they are on Earth 65. For example, Matt Murdock is a crime boss, and Frank Castle is a cop.
Robbi and I have always said this is a mix tape and not a cover song. In Hip Hop and music that uses samples, the goal of the sample is to take two existing ideas and recombine them to create something new. Here, one of them in play is the existing Marvel characters. The other is questions we have about this world we're building, and how it relates to the one we live in.
One of the things I thought was really interesting about using Daredevil was that he was always leaning towards potentially being bad. We kind of got out of ahead of the TV show in reminding people of that.
One of the things we wanted to do was create some villains for Gwen that weren't necessarily direct corollaries to stuff Peter Parker had to deal with, so using somebody like Daredevil or Frank Castle seemed like an interesting way to introduce a street level New York element into the book and keep it a little grounded. Because like you said; it's a little absurd and a little out there in a lot of ways, but I think that underneath it all there's a grounded street level almost noirish story going on. I always joke that this book, and a lot of my books, are me trying to come to terms with Frank Miller. [Laughs]
It's a bit like an episode of "The Twilight Zone," come to think of it. It's just an attempt to look for windows into characters that allow you to investigate what's universally powerful about the questions their stories pose. And, of course, the new context allows you to look at it with new eyes. That and, well, Earth 65 is our little strange vantage point on things that happen here in real life as much as anything. The Stacy's story, and what that's about, is something I'm wrestling with in real life.
I understand we'll see some more of that in the initial arc of this new volume, as we get to know the deceased Peter Parker a little bit more and get to know this world's version of the Osborn family.
Yeah. One of the ways we're going to try and give people an entry point into the book is that we've never really gone into what happened the night Peter Parker died. Some of the thrust of the very first arc is going to be centered around Gwen encountering a threat that will dredge up memories of "The Night that Peter Parker Died."
We revealed in the "Edge of Spider-Verse" one-shot that Peter Parker died after transforming himself into the Lizard. But now, despite Peter's death, there appears to be a new Lizard running around New York City. That, of course, causes a great deal of concern for Gwen, because the Lizard itself is the unfortunate legacy of her friend. There's someone out there who's either been infected, or is affecting the role of the Lizard, and she wants to know why. In investigating this, she has to revisit her own past and sets the stage for us to tell some of that backstory and to meet some new characters like, oh, say -- Harry Osborn. A friend and classmate from Midtown High who seemingly disappeared after Peter's death and will return a very changed young man.
Harry's appearance, of course, begs the question of whether or not we'll meet his father, Norman.
In a book about parents and children, there's definitely room for Norman Osborn. I have big plans for both the Osborns.
What does it mean for Gwen to confront the appearance of this new Lizard? Your past issues have suggested that she hasn't forgiven herself for what happened to Peter Parker.
In typical Spider-person style, every time things get a little better, they're about to get a little bit worse. [Laughs] That's some of what we'll be dealing with in the book as a whole. She is a superhero now. There's no waking up and not being able to stick to walls. So as long as she can do that, she's never going to have a moment of walking down the street and pretending like she can't help people. Most of us get to short of pass off that responsibility, but not Gwen.
Over time, the question will become, is feeling this way a direct result of having her powers? Or is it something a little deeper, like her upbringing? Have her relationships with her father and the people around her caused her to feel that way?
Since this arc deals with a mystery involving Gwen's past, will we learn more about her old life through flashbacks?
Yes. We're going to see some fun stuff, like the Mary Janes in high school. Some people might be uncertain of her age, but in our very first issue we state that Gwen is, in fact, 19. She's been out of high school for a couple years. That means we're going to flash back and see a much more naÃ¯ve version of Gwen and the cast, which I think will be a lot of fun.
So the supporting cast you established in the first volume of "Spider-Gwen" like Gwen's dad, her bandmates, and Jean DeWolff, will all have significant roles in this new arc?
Yeah. At the end of the first series, DeWolff warned Captain Stacy that Frank Castle is looking into him. Castle doesn't trust Captain Stacy, so over the course of this next arc, one of the things we'll be exploring is DeWolff, on her own, trying to figure out where Stacy stands, trying to figure out if he's up to something nefarious, or if he's a man that she can trust. What happened with Peter, and what might the connection between Captain Stacy and Spider-Woman be?
Now, Gwen doesn't just have an obligation to protect her city -- she also has a responsibility to the larger Multiverse as one of the Web Warriors. Will her role in that book have an immediate impact on her life in "Spider-Gwen?"
It's extremely hard for me to resist any opportunity to bring Spider-Ham in. [Laughs] He's always very likely to show up. Nick Lowe always has to remind me that the book is "Spider-Gwen," not "Spider-Ham."
But, look -- the fact that she can jump back and forth between realities is something we definitely won't be ignoring. We will lean into that. You will see her visit the Marvel Universe proper. I think that's one of the important differences between a book like this and, say, the concept of the Ultimate Universe. Gwen was born out of a multiversal crossover. She's always been aware that there are other Spider-people and other universes out there, so we're going to try and use that as a strength to the book.
I'm really excited to be coming back. "Spider-Gwen" is really a labor of love for me, Robbi and Rico. I think they're both really fired up and are doing some of the best work they've ever done. We've been given a tremendous amount of freedom to craft our world. You'll really get to see our fun and unique takes on existing Marvel characters. There will also be some new characters that I'm not going to mention. Some of them are rather serious, and some of them are really absurd. [Laughs] Says the guy who loves Spider-Ham. Be afraid.
It sounds like Robbi and Rico are just as excited be back as you are.
One of my big jobs as a writer is to keep those guys excited. A big factor in where that all comes from is just maintaining our excitement, from Editorial at the top, all the way through the process. I'm really fortunate to have a team that is just as invested and willing to go down some strange corn dog-flavored spider holes with me. [Laughs]