Last year Marvel Comics kicked off a new era of their long-running "Amazing Spider-Man" series. The era, dubbed "Big Time," marked the beginning of Dan Slott's run as the sole writer on the series and the title has not been a misnomer. Big things have indeed been happening in "Amazing Spider-Man." Peter Parker landed the job of his dreams, joined the Future Foundation, and lost his Spider Sense ability. He also dealt with attacks from the Kingpin of crime, the new Hobgoblin, a new villain called Massacre, and Alistair Smythe the Spider-Slayer, who tragically murdered the wife of J. Jonah Jameson; a murder that still haunts Spidey to this day.
If you missed all of that you don't need to worry. On Saturday May 7th, Marvel is giving fans the perfect chance to catch up with their Free Comic Book Day 2011 offering, a full-length issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" by Slott and artist Humberto Ramos. CBR News spoke with Slott about the new reader friendly issue, which also helps set the stage for this summer's big Spider-Man event story line, "Spider-Island."
CBR News: So Dan, this is actually your second Free Comic Book Day issue featuring Spider-Man. Coincidence? Or do you genuinely enjoy writing these issues?
Dan Slott: I also worked on the "Batman Adventures" one ages ago. So this is like my third Free Comic Book Day issue. I think it's great; anything to get people into the stores, especially new readers and especially young readers.
Is it challenging to pen a Free Comic Book Day comic? It seems like your tale would need to be incredibly accessible, but still feel like it mattered for long time readers.
That should be every comic really. I think we do a good job on that with "Amazing Spider-Man." We even try to make our issues that are in the middle of arcs very new reader friendly.
What can you tell us about the story you cooked up for this year's Free Comic Book Day issue of "Amazing Spider-Man?"
The whole thing is one story. There is a big fun romp for new and young readers, but there are hints and seeds for our big storyline this summer called "Spider-Island."
We understand that Spider-Woman AKA Jessica Drew is a major player in the Free Comic Book Day issue, is that right?
Yes, Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman does play a key role in this issue. The story will feature a fun and different dynamic between her and Spidey.
This issue doesn't just feature one Spider-Woman though. We'll also see Julia Carpenter who was the second Spider-Woman, the one that debuted during "Secret Wars." She is now the new Madame Web. She's very mysterious and because of her prognosticating powers she knows things that are going to happen; big, huge, epic things in the world of "Amazing Spider-Man."
Rounding out the supporting cast of the issue is Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu. You had Shang and Spidey team up in last year's "Shadowland: Spider-Man" one-shot. What do you find most interesting about the dynamic between these two characters?
In the Free Comic Book Day issue you're actually going to see something new with these guys. There will be a new aspect to their friendship and how they relate to each other. That aspect means Shang-Chi will play an important role in this story and "Spider-Island" as well.
Going forward, will Shang-Chi become a regular part of the supporting cast of "Amazing Spider-Man?"
You'll see him in the Free Comic Book Day issue. You'll see him in "Spider-Island" and you might just see him pop up in the issues in between.
In the most recent issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" you kicked off "Infested," a series of mini-sodes that set the stage for "Spider-Island." Is the Free Comic Book Day issue officially part of "Infested?"
It is its own thing. The 'Infested' shorts are a continuing story and they play into "Spider-Island." This isn't off to the side of that. It's another piece of the puzzle.
We've mentioned "Spider-Island" several times now, but it occurred to me that some people who are picking up this Free Comic Book Day issue might not know what that is. So for those who have been following Spider-Man or Spidey related news, what is "Spider-Island?"
It's a major Spider-Man storyline that begins in July with "Amazing Spider-Man" #666, a prologue issue featuring 30 stunning pages of art by Stefano Caselli. Then you get six issues featuring the amazing art of Humberto Ramos. So it's a storyline that runs from August to October. Then, because the things that happen in "Spider-Island" are so big, you'll get a whole issue, again by Stefano, dealing with all of the Spider-Island fall out.
That story is about New York City, the heart of the Marvel Universe, suddenly experiencing an epidemic that endows thousands of people with spider-powers. Is it safe to assume the story is huge in terms of scope and scale?
"Spider-Island" is really big Marvel U stuff going on in a Spider-Man centric epic, which is kind of fun. We haven't seen that in a while. The Avengers and FF will be involved, and we'll also see characters like Venom, Spider-Girl, Gravity and Firestar. So all different kinds of heroes will be showing up.
Two characters that will play a major role in the storyline are Cloak and Dagger. They'll be getting their own tie-in mini-series "Spider-Island: Cloak & Dagger" by Nick Spencer and Emma Rios. Those two characters first debuted in a Spider-Man comic, so how does it feel to have them back in Spidey's world in a major way?
It's awesome. The more they can be in Spider-Man's world the better. We saw in the "Dark Reign: Mister Negative" mini-series that Mister Negative's origin is directly tied into Cloak and Dagger's. There is something going on over there, so I think it's great that Cloak and Dagger are coming back into Spider-Man's world.
We've talked quite a bit about story so let's close by turning our attention to the artist behind both the Free Comic Book Day issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Spider-Island," Humberto Ramos. I enjoyed his work on the first story arc of the "Big Time" era and I've seen some of the pages from the Free Comic Book Day issue. It really does seem like he's having a great time working on Spider-Man and getting better and better with each issue he draws. What can readers expect from Humberto's visuals in the Free Comic Book Day Issue and "Spider-Island?"
One of the things Humberto is really shining with in both the Free Comic Book Day issue and "Spider-Island" is that it really does take place in the Manhattan we all know and love. One of the great things about Marvel is our stories don't take place in Metropolis or Star City. We're the world outside your window. We are Manhattan -- and Humberto is going crazy on the reference for different areas of New York. He is really getting in there. You're going to see sequences in "Spider-Island" and the Free Comic Book Day Issue where if you're visiting New York you can walk around and tour the places where these scenes took place. None of this is traced -- it's all Humberto killing himself. Though, I'm such a sweetheart, I'm making his life "easier" by filling the backgrounds with thousands of characters!
And, oh my god! All the pages that have been coming in for "Spider-Island" are mind blowing! On the writing side I'm being a total jerk and asking for so much stuff on every page. I'm looking for really big visuals and really cinematic stuff -- and every time Humberto rises to the challenge and surpasses anything you could possibly expect from a mortal. I think this is the best art I've seen out of Humberto Ramos ever -- and he's already brilliant.
Any final thoughts you would like to share about this year's Free Comic Book Day issue of "Amazing Spider-Man?"
It's Spidey! It's fun, all-new, done-in-one, good for fans of all ages -- oh, and it's FREE! Even a skinflint like J. Jonah Jameson can afford to pick this one up!
Dan Slott will sign on Free Comic Book Day at Jim Hanley's Universe in NYC. For more signings, don't miss our calendar listing dozens of Free Comic Book Day events around the country.