“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Whether readers of his Marvel Comics or watchers of his five movies from Sony as well as various and sundry animated series, Spider-Man fans know these words well. They also know the many personal sacrifices Peter Parker has had to make in order to protect people. But despite his responsibility to the world at large, Spidey doesn’t shirks his responsibility when it comes to family. When his loved ones such as Aunt May are in danger, the web-slinger swings into action.
Among the many changes brought about when Battleworld becomes the new Marvel Universe during “Secret Wars,” Spider-Man’s responsibility to the city he protects and the family he’s part of becomes less than clear. Figuring out where the hero stands is the central idea behind writer Dan Slott and artist Adam Kubert’s “Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows,” a new “Secret Wars” series that finds the title character living with his wife, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, and their daughter in a mysterious Battleworld domain known as the Regency.
To get a better handle on power and responsibility, CBR News spoke with Slott about the appeal of writing a married Spider-Man, how his family life affects the vigilante, the enemies Peter Parker will run afoul of and the role the mysterious Regent will play in the story.
CBR News: You’ve written Spider-Man for several years now, but with “Renew Your Vows” you get a chance to revisit a Spidey status quo that was changed shortly before you began writing the character. Why did you want to tell a married Peter Parker story?
Dan Slott: In the world of “Battleworld” and “Secret Wars” we have this big canvas where you can tell any kind of story. We’ve got a world where Captain America rides Devil Dinosaur and fights Hulks. [Laughs] So there’s no limit to anything you can do, and that’s the way it was sold to us.
Everything was wide open and everybody knows the big taboo in Spider-Man ever since “One More Day” has been the marriage. So I was like, “We can tell any story?” And they were like, “Yeah.” So I asked, “Can I tell the story of a married Spider-Man that lives in a world where everything was on the table?” And they were like, “Yes.” And I was, “WOO-HOO!” because this is like the once piece of forbidden fruit. It’s something I could not explore. So of course it’s the most fun place to play.
The solicits I’ve read suggest that, like you said, everything is on the table for “Renew Your Vows.” It’s even being billed as the “final” Spider-Man story. It definitely seems like anything can happen, but I’m saying this to the guy who turned Doc Ock into Spider-Man for a time. [Laughs]
Not just that. With “Spider-Verse” we told the story of every possible Spider-Man ever. So if you had the chance to tell one more Spider-Man story, what’s the one thing we didn’t do in “Spider-Verse?” That was the tricky thing.
Set the stage for us. How long have Peter and Mary Jane been married when “Renew Your Vows” begins? How old is their daughter? And how are they supporting their family?
You’re going to have to read the book. [Laughs] I don’t want to give things away, but we do start off with the daughter much younger than she is on that cover.
Okay, so this is a story that possibly unfolds over a number of years?
Yes… sort of. [Laughs] You’ll have to read the book.
Let’s move to something that you maybe say more about, the Battleworld domain that provides the setting for “Renew Your Vows.” It’s called The Regency, and compared to some of the other realms it seems life is relatively stable and peaceful for the citizens of the Regency.
The non-super powered citizens, yes.
Hmm… that suggests Spider-Man isn’t the only super hero in this domain.
Yes, but that’s all I’m going to say. [Laughs] Read the book!
[Laughs] What kind of role do the other domains and larger elements of Battleworld play in “Renew Your Vows?” Is this story self-contained or will you be visiting other domains and involving characters like the Thors?
If you wanted to, you could just read this. There are elements of this story that will move on into Spider-Man’s story post-“Secret Wars.”
You’re wanting to keep a lot of things secret, which leads me to believe the larger story you’re telling in “Renew Your Vows” has an element of mystery. Is that part of the reason you won’t give too much away?
This is a story where we see what happens if Peter Parker and Mary Jane have a kid. How does that change the dynamics of being Spider-Man?
So “Renew Your Vows” is a story about Spider-Man’s responsibility to his family versus his responsibility to his city?
There is a larger story in “Renew Your Vows.” We’ve seen how Peter reacts when Aunt May is in the hospital and he has to get medicine to her. We’ve seen how Spider-Man responds when his family is in danger or they need him. This spins that completely on its head. Now Spider-Man has to determine the responsibilities he has as both a husband and a father.
Speaking of family, what can you tell us about Mary Jane’s role in the story. Is she front and center or more of a supporting character?
This is a story with three main characters; Peter, MJ, and their daughter.
Beyond those three, who else can we expect to see in the series? Do counterparts of Spidey’s supporting cast and villains exist in the Regency?
Yes, you will see Spidey cast members and villains; some of which I haven’t had a chance to play with much or at all. For instance it’s been forever since I told a story where Eddie Brock was Venom because when I started writing Spider-Man it was Mac Gargan. So that was kind of fun. You also see a snippet with Kraven who I haven’t really written before. So you’ll see a lot of villains.
Lurking above those villains is the mysterious character who is the Baron of your Battleworld setting, the Regent. What can you tell us about him?
The Regent is someone we haven’t seen before in a Spider-Man comic. Who the character is and why they’re doing these things is part of our mystery.
“Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows” pairs you with artist Adam Kubert who’s done quite a bit of great Spidey work in recent years, but if I recall not much of it was with you, correct?
We did one story together. We did “Amazing Spider-Man: The List,” which was a blast. That was a great story that had Spidey fighting Norman Osborn in the Iron Patriot armor.
And his work here is gorgeous! Every page is fantastic! And this is also a chance for Adam to flex his muscles and redesign characters for how they would look in the Regency. And when you add inker John Dell and colorist Justin Ponsor? I’m a very lucky writer.
Finally, some fans might dismiss “Renew Your Vows” as almost a “What if?” style story, but like you said and like all “Secret Wars” tales, you’re setting up some elements that will determine what Spider-Man is like after “Secret Wars.”
Yes, I can not confirm though whether or not I’ll still be on the book, but there are elements that are introduced in “Renew Your Vows” which will have an impact on the world of Spider-Man post-“Secret Wars.”
“Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows” #1 swings into stories June 3, 2015. You can read a lettered preview right now on CBR.
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