NYCC: Waid and Wacker Talk "Amazing Spider-Man"

Mark Waid has penned stories featuring Superman, The Justice League, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four, and his next writing project will see him paired with yet another comic book icon. He's signed on to write a story arc for Marvel Comics' "Amazing Spider-Man." CBR News spoke with Waid and his editor Stephen Wacker about the book.

Spider-Man and Mark Waid may seem like such a natural pairing that many fans are bound to wonder why it's taken so long for Marvel to give Waid a shot at writing a Spider-Man title. "Actually, this is the second or third time I've been lined up to write a Spidey book, but something's always derailed it at the last second," Mark Waid told CBR News. "Not this time! I'm in! C'mon, it's Spider-Man. Who doesn't want to write Spider-Man? With Steve Wacker overseeing you and a chance of working with (not that we know who yet, but) JRJR or Marcos Martin or Phil Jimenez or that Barry Kitson guy or any number of other fine artists? It's a perfect offer."

Stephen Wacker wanted Waid to be part of the "Amazing Spider-Man" writing team for a number of reasons. "Mark is pathological about thinking 'character first!' when it comes to the stories he writes and character comes foremost in every Spider-Man story worth its weight," Wacker said. "Mark also brings the experience of having worked with a room full of fellow comic writers and knowing when to argue and when to listen, which is a big help given the way these stories are tossed around."

Waid's experience working with multiple writers stems from the good time he had as part of the creative team of DC Comics' 2006 weekly series, "52." Being part of the "Amazing Spider-Man" writing team is proving to be equally enjoyable. "I know this sounds like shellac, but what a great band of guys," Waid remarked. "Steve took me out to dinner with Gale and Guggenheim a few weeks back to meet the gang, and they really made me feel welcome. (Dan Slott would have been there, too, but he gets tired of going out in public and being asked who Jackpot is.) It reminded me of the '52' experience in that I knew I was at a table where ego took a back seat to story, and we fired ideas back and forth with aplomb. And wine. Wine and aplomb."

It's been almost three years since Waid has told a story set in the Marvel Universe, and he's happy to be back playing in the House of Ideas' sandbox. "I can't remember a time in my career when Marvel has seemed more vital and on the move, more the place to be," Waid said. "Everybody who's anybody is here and is having a good time, the characters are more exciting than ever, and I'd really feel like I was missing out on something if I weren't being asked to jump aboard."

Waid finds Spider-Man's new status quo to be especially compelling. "Peter Parker seems young again. He's back to being the ultimate hard-luck kid. There's a newfound vitality to all his relationships now that he no longer has a supermodel wife to go home to at night," Waid explained. "Really, at the end of every day, how hard is your life if you're married to Mary Jane Watson? If I had even a cardboard standee of M.J. in my apartment, my life would be easier. (Also, creepier.)"

Both Spider-Man the character, and his new status quo lend themselves to a variety of stories, but Waid finds a particular type of Spider-Man story to be especially interesting. "Time-travel stories. KIDDING. I KID. The exact opposite--the Spidey stories I find most interesting are the street-level adventures that are a little too mundane for, say, the FF or Thor, but are perfect for Spider-Man," Waid stated. "Like Daredevil, Spider-Man is less an adventurer than he is a crimefighter. And the best Spidey stories strike a great screen-time balance between Spidey and Peter. In fact, in all my work, I still tend to follow the general story structure I learned from the Spider-masters back in the day--as long as you start with action and end with action, you can do as much Daily Bugle and Aunt May and Coffee Bean stuff in between as you like. Readers are there for both the action and the soap-opera."

While exact plot details of Waid's "Spider-Man" arc still being hammered out, the writer plans for his tale to be one of superhero action. "Good crime stories are heavy in the rotation currently with the gang of writers, and horror's more of a thing you do with Spidey as an exception rather than a rule. I just want to cut loose and have Spidey sling some webs. And be funny. If you can't make readers chuckle four or five times with a Spider-Man script, you're writing it wrong."

Which villains Waid will pit Spider-Man against is another detail that's still being determined, but the writer does have his eye on some particular adversaries. "There are a couple of the B-level Spidey villains that Steve and I have talked about turning into A-listers. And at least one C-lister who I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (hint: he's the quicker picker-upper!). But whatever we do, it ain't about nostalgia; it's about keeping the 'Brand New Day' excitement going."

The identity of the villain(s) Spider-Man faces in Waid's arc may still have yet to be decided upon, but the writer could reveal at least one of the key supporting characters in his story. "Jonah. Jonah. Jonah. He's not only my favorite Spider-Man character, he may be my favorite Marvel character period," Waid said. "When it's a good day at the keyboard and you catch that voice just exactly right, there's no one more fun to write dialogue for than JJJ. Everything about Jonah makes me smile. Everything. And what we have in mind for him, you wouldn't wish on your worst editor. Enemy. I mean enemy."

With it's three times a month shipping schedule, "Amazing Spider-Man" is a carefully plotted book which features a number of ongoing storylines. How Waid's story fits into those storylines will determine when readers see it. "It's a little early to tell, but Mark has already come up with a killer first scene that would necessitate his arc coming on around the end of the year to fit correctly, but there may be something before that too," Wacker explained. "Much as with our other new writer, Joe Kelly, we're not rushing anything because the rest of the writing crew are so well planned out for the next few months. We have a real luxury to ease people into the Spidey-system since it's built differently than any other comic Marvel does."

Waid is currently only scheduled to write one arc for "Amazing Spider-Man," but the writer wouldn't mind more chances to go web-swinging with the Wall-Crawler. "I'd love to do as much as possible, but we'll just have to see what fan reaction is after I give Peter a pair of adolescent twins to fight crime with. KIDDING," he said. "Steve's been really good at remembering that I have a day job now, so he's not overburdening me, and given the talented writers in the stable, it's as much fun to read Spider-Man comics right now as it is to write them. So I'm not looking to do anything but ease their workload--but let's just say that I'm ready to be put into the game whenever Coach Wacker calls. Hopefully as part of the regular rotation."

One of the factors that will determine Waid's availability for future "Amazing Spider-Man" stories is his day job as Editor in Chief of Boom! Studios, a job which he finds immensely satisfying. "We're working with tomorrow's superstar creators. Really, no kidding, it's All About The Story at Boom! We've got crime-genre series upcoming like 'High Rollers,' which will appeal to the 'Criminal' and '100 Bullets' fans, we continue with our line of horror comics--and anyone who digs Spidey should check out our upcoming horror/comedy 'Scream Queen'"

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