When people talk about the "Marvel Universe," in most cases they're referring to a world designated Earth 616, home to the classic incarnations of Marvel Comics' heroes and villains, but the actual size of the company's shared universe is much far greater and includes numerous dimensions. In these other dimensions history and even reality is often changed, leading to slight or radically different iterations of Marvel characters.
This September readers will travel to five of these different dimensions and encounter five different incarnations of Marvel's flagship character, the Amazing Spider-Man, in the "Edge of Spider-Verse" miniseries which features work by a different creative team across each of its five issues. CBR News spoke with Senior Editor and Spider-Man group editor Nick Lowe and writers Jason Latour & David Hine about their contributions to the series, which paves the way for the upcoming "Spider-Verse" event story line, and also features the Marvel Comics debut of writer Gerard Way.
CBR News: "Spider-Verse," a major Marvel event story that involves every incarnation of Spider-Man is almost upon us. From what I understand the "Edge of Spider-Verse" miniseries will introduce readers to some new spider-powered characters and reintroduce some fan-favorite ones. Nick, what exactly is this project and how did it come about?
Nick Lowe: This is the shot across the bow for "Spider-Verse." Like you said, in this miniseries we'll meet some Spider characters we've met before and we're going to be meeting a few new ones, too. One of my goals with the series is to highlight some characters that are going to be important in "Spider-Verse." That is, if they survive this book (and some of them don't!).
My other goal was to put together one of the most interesting stable of creators ever. I didn't want this to be just another group of stories leading up to an event. I wanted it to be special. So the creators were what I thought of first and I'm really, really proud with the people I've got on these issues.â€¨The title "Edge of Spider-Verse" suggests a loose connection to the main story, but is that the case? How connected are the stories in these issues to the main "Spider-Verse" tale with Morlun and Peter Parker?
Lowe: These are all stories that lead into "Spider-Verse." By "Edge" we mean that you're crossing the edge of "Spider-Verse" and about to turn into its driveway. Some of the characters in this miniseries will have pretty major roles in "Spider-Verse."
In fact, you might see some of them in other "Edge of Spider-Verse" issues as well. "Edge of Spider-Verse" isn't only this miniseries. It's a banner for all the books that lead into the event. You'll see issues of "Amazing Spider-Man" that are "Edge of Spider-Verse." Both of the "Superior Spider-Man" issues #32 and #33 are "Edge of Spider-Verse" issues as well. There will also be an "Edge of Spider-Verse" issue of "Spider-Man 2099." So through this miniseries and those issues you're going to meet a lot of Spider characters who are going to be important to "Spider-Verse."
So the individual issues of the "Edge of Spider-Verse" miniseries are all connected because of their ties to the event, but will they be accessible and self-contained for readers primarily interested in the adventures of a particular Spider character and/or the creators involved with that character?
Lowe: Absolutely. We built each of these to tell a story and at the same time have a tie into "Spider-Verse." Each one of them though will have a very easy entry level. Some of the stories feature brand new characters and some have established histories.
Let's talk a little bit about each of the five titles and the creative teams involved. "Edge of Spider-Verse" #1 is written by David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky and features art by Richard Isanove.
Lowe: Yes, so David and Fabrice were the writers behind the previous "Spider-Man Noir" books that Marvel released. I really liked those books when they were coming out and I loved that Spider-Man Noir was in the "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions" video game.
So "Spider-Man Noir" has always been a favorite and I wanted to get David and Fabrice back together again. Then I saw it might be possible to get Richard on art. Richard not only is one of the greatest colorists to ever color a comic, but he's also an incredible artist in his own right. You can see that from the issues of "Savage Wolverine" and "Dark Tower" that he did. So I thought these creators would be a really nice fit together. I was really pleased to lock them into the first issue and set them off running.
David, I believe it's been about four years since your last Marvel work and your last "Spider-Man Noir" story. How does it feel to return to the character and the company for a big event like "Spider-Verse?" What do you find most interesting about the Peter Parker of "Spider-Man Noir?"
David Hine: Yes, the last book from Marvel was "Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without A Face" in 2010. Most of my work tends to be creator-owned or for independent publishers these days, but I have a great love for the Spider-Man Noir character, so it was good to be invited back to write this issue. This version of Peter Parker is a lot harder-edged than the wisecracking web slinger of the regular Marvel Universe. This is still Peter Parker, with the same flaws and qualities, the same yearning for justice, but he is also a reflection of the period he grew up in. The challenge is to keep the character recognizable and credible, while taking him in a different direction because of the things he has experienced.
In terms of plot and themes, what is your "Edge of Spider-Verse" issue about? How new reader friendly is it? I understand the issue pits Spider-Man against a 1930s version of Mysterio? What can you tell us about this character?
Hine:Readers who are new to Spider-Man Noir should have no problem with the story. The first two series were set in the early 1930s when the Great Depression was at its worst and we saw Peter Parker and Aunt May as political activists. This time, we've skipped ahead a few years to 1939 and the New York World's Fair. This is supposed to be a new era, looking toward a future of scientific advancement and prosperity, but it is also the eve of the Second World War, so there's a sense of impending doom hanging over the whole story.
Fabrice Sapolsky and I, when we were discussing which villain to revamp for this issue, both immediately came up with Mysterio. Spider-Man Noir has always drawn together elements of both Noir and the Pulp magazines of the '30s and Mysterio is a perfect mix of the supernatural and super-science. He is presenting a performance of magic and escapology in the amusement area of the World's Fair, but his real intention is to get his hands on the superhuman powers of The Spider-Man.
What do you feel Richard Isanove brings to this story as an artist? Seems like he'd be perfect for this coming off his recent "Savage Wolverine" run which was a period piece set during prohibition.
Hine: Absolutely perfect. Richard is a very fine artist and I'm excited to have him on board. He's widely known for his color work, of course, notably on "The Dark Tower," but his art and writing on "Savage Wolverine" demonstrate that he's a perfect fit for this book, and I'm sure he'll capture the authentic look and feel of the period. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what he does with Spider-Man Noir.
We only have 20 pages for this issue so it's important to convey the sense of a buildup to the threat of the "Spider-Verse" event. Setting the story at that pivotal point in history when the world is about to be plunged into war is a good way to set that up, but we've also introduced some new elements to the Spider-Man Noir mythos, which I hope will pique the interest of Spider-Man fans enough to demand a return of Spider-Man Noir, not just in the "Spider-Verse" event but in his own right. So from my own point of view this book is also my pitch to bring back the Noir.
The second "Edge of Spider-Verse" issue is by writer Jason Latour and artist Robbi Rodriguez. I understand it will take takes us to a world where it's Gwen Stacy who's bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes Spider-Woman...
Lowe: Yes, I'm a big a Jason Latour fan. I've gotten to work with him a couple times, but since I moved over to the Spider-Office I haven't been able to work with him yet with his writer hat at the very least. So he was one of the first creators I called to do something because if you read his work on books like "Loose Ends," "Winter Soldier," or "Wolverine & the X-Men" he comes at things from such a fresh angle. The same thing goes for his art on "Southern Bastards," his Image Comics series with writer Jason Aaron. He's an artist's writer because he's an artist as well.
[Latour] is such a great comic storyteller and cartoonist. So I went to him and I threw out the idea to him that the Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman is a big part of "Spider-Verse." He really took to that character and had a story to tell. Then we talked about who would draw the story and Jason's first choice, which I was completely on board with, was Robbi Rodriguez who's killing it on "FBP" over at Vertigo. He had previously done an issue of "Uncanny X-Force" for me. So I really enjoyed working with them and Jason and Robbi's Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman story is really, really cool.
Jason, I believe "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2 is your first time working in Spider-Man's world. How does it feel to be given that chance with a story that ties into a big event like "Spider-Verse?"
Jason Latour: It's surreal. As a kid I read as many Spider-man comics as anything. It's always been on my bucket list to contribute to his world. So creating a character for that world, that I hope has the potential to stick around awhile, is pretty thrilling.
"Edge of "Spider-Verse" #2 takes readers to a world where a radioactive spider bit Gwen Stacy and she became superhero known as Spider-Woman. What can you tell us about this incarnation of Gwen and her adventures in this issue? What do you find most interesting about her? In terms of plot and themes what is this issue about?
Latour: Well, one of the things I think is strongest about Spider-Man as a concept is that the themes run so deep that they really open themselves up to re-interpretation. On some level this is obviously that kind of story, but hopefully it isn't a simple "What If" where the gender swap or the plot superficially change things. We're trying to treat Gwen as a fully realized and fundamentally different person than Peter, to treat Spider-Woman as something new. But as we set out to do that it's impossible not to think about what she shares with Spider-Man. What that seems to be, aside from the powers, is that they're very much influenced by strong parents.
I've always gotten the sense that the Parkers were the kind of people who thought the community should police itself, that every person was responsible for the welfare of the whole. On the other hand Gwen's biggest relationship is with her father, Captain Stacy, who maybe shares some of the same qualities as the Parkers, but at the end of the day he straps on a gun and a badge and takes it upon himself to police that community. To me that slight wrinkle adds an interesting nuance to the lessons she'll learn.
Counterbalance all that with what I think is a fun, modern story about a young woman struggling with what she wants out of life. Gwen's in a band, she wants to be an artist -- but how practical is that when suddenly you can lift cars and stick to walls? What happens when you wake up and find you are basically a gun? Do you have to carry a badge too? Is it selfish to want something else?
Nick mentioned that you suggested Robbi Rodriguez for the story. What about his work makes him a great fit for the story you're telling?
Latour: Robbi's a very big reason I wanted to do this comic. We've done a few little weird things together before that were a ton of fun, and so I'm always looking to pull him along on some new adventure. It's honestly been a real pleasure to watch him grow into a really great cartoonist over the years. He's just got a real eye and sense for the world around him that's channeled through this boundless energy and desire to fearlessly experiment. You couple those talents with the work ethic he has, and the focus he's given to improving at the fundamentals of drawing and good storytelling and you've got the makings of something special. So setting out to work with him again really makes me want to raise my game and try to give him a script that will excite and elevate his work as much as I know he will mine.
I hope people enjoy what we're doing. Nick Lowe really has given us a lot of leg room to do something fun and unique. I'm really excited to have that power and whatever else comes with it.
Lowe: Indeed. I believe I gave Dustin his first Marvel work years ago on an "X-Men" miniseries; if I remember correctly it was "Emperor Vulcan." I have since worked with Dustin a bunch of times. I edited him on a couple issues of "X-Men Legacy" and I edited him on "S.H.I.E.L.D." So we've worked together quite a bit and over that time I've gotten to really know him. He's been doing his own comic called "Amnia Cycle" which he's been writing and drawing. I've really enjoyed it as well.
So I knew he had it in him. I thought this would be a great opportunity to give him a shot at writing a Marvel comic and he really unfurled his imagination. His story is nuts! It's so full of cool sci-fi and tech elements. It's a complete reimagining of a Spider origin story. I think people are going to be really impressed with Dustin's work here.
Is it more of a science fiction story like "Spider-Man 2099?"
Lowe: Kind of. The story doesn't take place in the future per se, but it is a sci-fi world. The universe he's setting this story in is a little but different than ours, but it's very high tech and very science minded, which is really cool.
Interesting. And then "Edge of Spider-Verse" #4 marks the Marvel writing debut of Pulitzer Prize-nominated horror writer Clay McLeod Chapman?
Yes, [associate editor] Ellie Pyle brought Clay Chapman to Marvel for this story. He's best known for his horror writing and Ellie and Clay crafted this really creepy, terrifying tale featuring a very different Spider character that I think is going to send chills down everybody's spine when they read it. Clay is just terrific and we are so excited to finally get him on a Marvel comic. That's something that Ellie has been working on for a long time. So that's really cool.
Then finally we have "Edge of Spider-Verse" #5 by writer Gerard Way, which is also his first work for Marvel.
Lowe:Yes, so Gerard was actually the very first call I made for this project. I've been trying to get Gerard on a Marvel project for long time. We met a couple years ago at New York Comic Con and I've been slowly and surely trying to weasel my way into his life and trying to get him to write something for me. Because I'm such a huge fan of "Umbrella Academy." It's pretty embarrassing. So I've been desperately trying to get him going on something and this was something I could really let him loose with. It allowed him to go crazy and tell whatever kind of story he wanted to tell. There were really no rules here. He came up with this alternate universe and a Spider character unlike any that I think we've ever seen before. He's already turned in some designs and he's feverishly writing away.
We were trying to find an artist for him to work with and Jake Wyatt, who is just incredible, has done a couple of Marvel things. He's working on "Ms. Marvel" right now and about a year ago he did an "Indestructible Hulk Annual" for me. He's also working on his own creator-owned book that he's writing, drawing, coloring and lettering. So I feel a little guilty. I hope I don't delay that because I want to read it as a fan.
His art was something that Gerard fell in love with. So they're a match made in heaven. Hopefully this is the start of a larger relationship between Gerard, Marvel and Jake. It's a really, really cool story and I'm so stoked to be working on it with them.â€¨People often write off event tie-in books and especially event prelude books. I think people sometimes go into these things with a preconceived notion, but I'm so proud of the roster we have on "Edge of Spider-Verse" both from the creator and character standpoint. I think it's going to be a really special series that people are going to be talking about for a long time.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on "Spider-Verse."