Sorting out your personal life is a constant struggle, especially as one of the Marvel Universe's premier costumed champions. So what happens when Peter Parker chooses to put his personal life on hold and just save the world for a while? Writer Mark Waid and artist Mike McKone are currently exploring this question (and more) in "24/7," the latest arc of "Amazing Spider-Man." CBR News spoke with Waid about the storyline.
When Spider-Man tried to bury the hatchet with his old enemy J. Jonah Jameson - who recently became the Mayor of New York City -- Triple-J refused and sicked an anti-Spidey S.W.A.T. team on the hero, escalating their conflict even further. Peter got angry - really angry -- and felt the best retaliation was to fluster and embarrass the prideful Jameson as much as possible, and the only way to do that was to operate as Spider-Man full time.
"Jonah is an obvious target. Plus, it really does irk Peter. But--there's more to Peter's wrath than just a chance to take a poke at JJJ, even if Pete doesn't really realize it," Mark Waid told CBR.
That true reason behind Peter's vendetta came out in a fight between Spider-Man and Jonah's Anti-Spider-Man squad. In "Amazing Spider-Man" #593, on sale now, Peter made a mental slip and told the squad that he wouldn't let their leader, Norman Osborn, crush him. Whoops! Obviously, Spidey's got some Dark Reign on the brain.
"Like a lot of level-headed folks, it takes a lot to spark Peter's temper-a lot --but when he does lose his cool, he just goes berserk," Waid explained. "And, remember, when people act out out-of-proportion strongly, it's generally a defense mechanism to avoid coping with the fact that they're really most angry at themselves because they realize deep down that whatever they're acting out about is really, at core, their own fault. And Pete has a lot of capacity for that sort of guilt."
While Peter had to discover the reason for his anger and obsession by accident, Jonah Jameson was called out on his demons by his estranged father, J. Jonah Jameson, Sr. Mark Waid feels the two JJJs share one common trait, but in all other aspects it's a case of the apple falling very far from the tree. "They are somewhat similar in that they're both stubborn, that's true," the writer said. "But I think that's about where the similarities stop. There's another important difference between them, as well, that comes as a surprise -- but you'll have to wait for issue #595 and the first chapter of Joe Kelly's 'American Son' to see!"
As if being Spider-Man all the time and having to deal with Jonah's goon squad wasn't tough enough, Peter Parker also has to contend with a new threat: a mysterious figure has taken on the mantle of his old foe the Vulture, and he doesn't appear to be a run of the mill supervillain either. On the contrary, the new Vultuere's a psychotic vigilante whose modus operandi is to literally feed on dying mobsters.
"The original Vulture, Adrian Toomes, sheds some light on the new Vulture's back story in #594," Waid explained. "The character came about when we were at the last Spider-Conference kicking around this 'preys on the weak and helpless of the criminal element' idea, and it grew from there."
Spidey came face to face with the new Vulture in the pages of "Amazing" #593, and his winged foe demonstrated that he was armed with the power of flight; a misshapen lower jaw and nose that looked like it could do some serious biting damage; and the ability to spit acid. In issue #594, he'll showcase one more ability, one that Mark Waid hinted will make him even harder to catch.
"Amazing Spider-Man" #592-593 saw the introduction of another new supporting character, J. Jonah Jameson's Mayoral assistant, who readers don't yet know much about. "We kept referring to him as 'Eddie Haskell' in the conference room until we realized that Li'l Zeb [Wells] and Li'l [Fred] Van Lente didn't get the reference, punk-ass kids that they are," Waid laughed. Haskell was of course the duplicitous brown-noser made famous on the clsssic sitcom "Leave it to Beaver." "That should tell you a lot," Waid said. "More on him in Fred's next story!"
"24/7" has also briefly featured the actions of a mysterious supporting character, a dark haired woman who apparently had been caring for Peter Parker's apartment while he was out of town. Whether or not the woman is a familiar character or a brand new player is unclear, but Waid promised readers will learn a whole lot more about her in "Amazing Spider-Man" #594, which hits stores May 20 and brings the "24/7" arc to close.
The issue will feature a development that leaves Peter Parker strongly reconsidering the wisdom of being Spider-Man on a full time basis. "Spidey finds a spectacular new way to unintentionally re-antagonize New York City against him, and it's a doozy," Waid teased.
Illustrating "24/7" has been comics industry veteran Mike McKone, with who Waid has thoroughly enjoyed the chance to collaborate. "Mike's always great to work with. The characters interact well, they're funny when they need to be and menacing when it's called for, and his pages are a breeze to dialogue. Everyone's so expressive."
Working as an official part of the "Webheads," the collective name for the "Amazing Spider-Man" creative team, has also been a lot of fun for Mark Waid, who previously worked with a team of writers on DC Comics' "52." "Wotta relief. I love the collaborative nature of it all, truly," Waid stated. "Some guys do their best work when they work alone, and that's great. But for me, it's always better and more fun when you have talented people to bounce ideas off of."
When he's not working on "Amazing Spider-Man," Waid is hard at work overseeing multiple projects as Editor-in-Chief of BOOM! Studios. The writer thinks his Spidey fans might find the BOOM! miniseries "Caped" particularly enjoyable. "It's a four-issue mini on sale now that's, essentially, 'The Devil Wears Prada' with superheroes, about a superhero's beleaguered assistant," Waid explained.
Once "24/7" wraps, fans of Waid's take on the Webslinger won't have to wait long for the writer's next Spidey adventure. "Like all the Webheads, I'm contributing a little somethin'-somethin' to #600 -- in this case, a short story about one of Peter's formative moments as a pre-Spidey teenager," the writer said. "And I'm writing #601, so I'd better get back to work!"