When the new "Amazing Spider-Man" series kicks off this fall, Peter Parker will be in command of a powerful corporation and adventuring on a global scale -- but the wall-crawler wasn't always one of the Marvel Universe's most successful heroes. Peter Parker has been learning how to overcome bad luck and balance the responsibilities of his super heroic and a normal lives since he first donned the webs back as a high schooler during Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's legendary original run of stories.
This December, "Supernatural's" Robbie Thompson and artist Nick Bradshaw will travel back to the Web-Slinger's rookie season as a hero in "Spidey," an all-new ongoing series of done-in-one, in-continuity tales set during Peter's teenage years. CBR News spoke with Thompson about the series, revisiting the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man and the excitement of writing a "gateway" comic.
CBR News: Robbie, since I know you're a longtime Spider-Man fan, I imagine you jumped at the chance to tell new in-continuity stories of Peter Parker's high school years.
Robbie Thompson: When [editor] Nick Lowe called me to tell me about the book, I was so excited that I think I actually did jump. He was so passionate about the book, and the opportunity to tell stories in this era. I love Spider-Man. The chance to work on this book, and be a part of this team has been incredibly rewarding and fun.
Speaking of this era, we saw Dan Slott and Ramon Perez do something similar with their "Learning to Crawl" story in the previous volume of "Amazing Spider-Man." While no date was given in the story, the tale seemed to be set about 12 to13 years ago given the technology level. Will that be the case with "Spidey?" Is this a fairly modern story in terms of setting? And if so what's it like writing tales set in the classic Lee/Ditko era with modern tech like the internet, cell phones, and digital photography?
We want the book to look and feel contemporary, but we're not putting a specific time or era on anything. The hope is that it feels updated, yet timeless -- something that a new reader to comics can pick up and say, this looks and feels like now. Going back and re-reading the Lee/Ditko books, you get the sense that it obviously takes place in a different era, but the characters and the character dynamics are timeless. So what's been interesting in working on "Spidey" is that, while some stuff has changed, the book remains much the same -- because Peter Parker is still Peter Parker. Spider-Man is still your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The Parker Luck is still the Parker Luck. So, yeah, he's got a digital camera, and the internet, but he's still the same character.
I understand another unique aspect of this series is each issue features a done-in-one story. Is it difficult to write this way?
I grew up reading a lot of comics that were "done-in-ones," so I've really enjoyed the opportunity to tell standalone stories. In my day job on "Supernatural," we do "myth" and "standalone" episodes and both ultimately offer unique opportunities at the same thing: shedding light on the characters, fleshing them out.
With "Spidey," we're focusing on Peter's burgeoning life as a superhero, while balancing his personal, high school life. The "standalone" approach allows us to use the villains and opposition he's facing to shine a light on who Peter is and what "Spidey" is all about.
Will events in earlier issues of the series come back to haunt or reward Peter in later ones?
There will be some events that will haunt/reward Peter in later issues, but for the most part that's more of an emotional payoff rather than a plot payoff. He's learning more and more how to be a hero with each issue, and each adventure is part of a foundation for the hero we see today.
One of the fun things about this has got to be the chance to play with some of Spidey's classic characters, both in his costumed and personal life. Who are some of the classic Spider-Man rogues and people in Peter Parker's life that you're especially excited to tackle?
It's so much fun to play in this sandbox, with these characters! I love getting to write classic villains like Doc Ock or the Lizard, but it's just as much fun getting to go back to high school and write Flash Thompson as a bully. These characters are so iconic. They've changed so much over so many years and so many comics, so what's most interesting is to go back to the beginning, see where they started and explore and shed some light on what makes them tick.
Will we also get a youthful Peter Parker's perspective and interaction with the larger Marvel Universe in "Spidey?" Are you interested in having him play off groups like the Fantastic Four, X-Men or the Avengers?
We will definitely see Peter and Spidey interact with members of the Marvel Universe, although it's something we're going to be doing over time on the book. The focus from the jump is Peter and Spidey and everything going on in his day-to-day life. But with each victory or loss or near death experience, he's making a name for himself in a universe that is much bigger than he is -- that's going to put him on some collision courses as the book goes on. New York is a small town! So, yes, we will see him interact with the larger Marvel Universe, and it's been fun to write Spidey crossing paths with the likes of Iron Man or Black Panther.
Over the years, a number of new characters have been retroactively inserted into Peter's high school life, like Jessica Jones or the guidance counselor and AV club in "Learning to Crawl." There's also Cindy Moon, whose adventures you chronicle monthly in "Silk." Do you have any interest in further exploring these new additions to Peter's high school years?
Absolutely -- there's a rich history of Peter's high school life to draw from, from Lee/Ditko to Dan Slott. You'll also see some characters from Peter's life introduced into his high school life that you may not expect. As for Silk/Cindy Moon, she's sadly in the bunker already, but I have to admit I'm tempted to show a quick scene of her at some point -- studying one of Spider-Man's fights. Alone. In the bunker. It's possible I'm a terrible person!
[Laughs] What about creating entirely new characters? Are you interested in adding new villains and classmates to Peter's life in "Spidey?"
We'll have a few new characters in Peter's high school life, and there may be some new villains down the road, but our focus is to draw upon characters that we all know and love and use them to tell new stories from this era.
Let's talk about the work being done by your collaborator, Nick Bradshaw. As the artist on "Wolverine and the X-Men", he's familiar with drawing teen heroes; he seems an especially great fit for this series. What do you enjoy most about Nick's work?
Nick Bradshaw is brilliant. Perfect fit for this book. Early on in the process, Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis sent me an email with Nick's early designs for the book and I was floored by the level of detail and performance in each character. Teen Peter just leapt off the page -- it's both classic and new, and you get a sense right away of who Peter is and what type of person he is just by looking at Nick's art. Those designs were incredibly inspiring as we dug into the book's first issues.
Nick's also great at taking what's on the page and telling the story in his own unique way -- pushing what's there as far as it can go and elevating everything. He can certainly nail all the superhero fights and the setting and designs, but what I've loved seeing the most are the performances in all the faces. Nick just has it all, and I'm lucky to be working with him on this book.
Finally, this is a title that's been designed to be very accessible for new readers. So in a lot of ways, this could be a gateway for readers of all ages who have never picked up a comic before. What's it like writing a title like that?
I love it. The chance to reach new readers is the goal of every writer, and that's something Nick Lowe has been talking about since our very first call about this book. As [Editor in Chief] Axel Alonso said, "Everyone has a first comic book." And I really hope that this book could be a first book for new readers who are coming to Spider-Man from either the movies or the cartoons or wherever they've crossed paths with Spidey. And I sincerely hope this comic is a gateway for those new readers to Spider-Man books across Marvel's line and history -- he's such an iconic, incredible character and there have been so many amazing stories, from Lee/Ditko's run, to "Ultimate Spider-Man," to "Spider-Verse." It's endless. And we hope to be new readers' first step down that endless, rewarding path!
But we also hope it's rewarding for lifelong Spidey fans, too. I'm a lifelong Spider-Man fan and I'm super excited about Dan Slott's new "Amazing Spider-Man" book -- it's crazy good stuff. But, as a fan, I also enjoy seeing Spidey stories set back when he was first starting out, struggling in high school. Every Spider-Man story I read informs the next, no matter what era it takes place in, and that's our hope for "Spidey," that it's part of the long, rich tapestry of Spider-Man tales.
"Spidey" #1 swings into stores this December.