2010 has been a challenging year for Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man. In the first few months of the year, Spidey had to contend with mayhem caused by "The Gauntlet," a series of loosely connected storylines that brought back many of his classic foes, deadlier than ever. After surviving run-ins with villains like The Rhino, Mysterio and the Lizard, Spidey then had to confront the deranged family of his old foe Kraven the Hunter, who were looking to wipe out many of New York's Spider-themed superheroes with their "Grim Hunt." Then, during the story arc titled "One Moment in Time," Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson had to painfully confront the reasons why their relationship came to an end. Finally, in the recently concluded "Origin of the Species," Spider-Man had a to protect a newborn baby boy from a horde of the arachnid hero's most dangerous foes.
Through all of this, Spidey's trials and tribulations weren't the creation of a single mind. Rather, they unfolded in thrice monthly chapters written by the writing team of Marc Guggenheim, Dan Slott, Bob Gale, Zeb Wells, Joe Kelly, Mark Waid and Fred Van Lente, who were collectively known as the "Web-Heads." Over the course of the last three years and over 100 issues, the Web-Heads took turns chronicling the ups and downs of Peter Parker's life. Last week, with the release "Amazing Spider-Man" #647, the time of the Web-Heads, dubbed the "Brand New Day" era, came to an end with a special jam issue written by the entire team.
With this week's "Amazing Spider-Man" #648, Dan Slott becomes the sole writer on the title, kicking off a new twice-monthly shipping era known as "Big Time." CBR News spoke with Slott about the final issue of "Brand New Day" and what readers can expect when "Amazing Spider-Man" hits the "Big Time."
CBR News: Dan, you're at the end of one era of "Amazing Spider-Man" and about to launch another. How does that feel?
Dan Slott: Both awesome and intimidating. It's an honor because it's "Amazing Spider-Man!" This book has been around since, what? 1963? Back in ye olden days when comics were 25 cents, this was one of the five books I picked up religiously. "Amazing Spider-Man," "Marvel Team-Up," "Marvel Two-In-One," "The Brave and the Bold" and "Detective Comics" were my five books. If I had some extra change, I'd get caught up on older Spideys with "Marvel Tales." So two, sometimes three, of my five books were Spider-Man books. He was far and away my favorite character.
"Amazing Spider-Man" #648 takes Spidey into the "Big Time"
In moving from one era to another, you're going from being a member of a team to sole writer on "Amazing Spider-Man." I know you're enthusiastic about the chance to write the book on your own, but will you miss the collaborative experience that came with being part of the Web-Heads?
It was one of the coolest experiences in my life to be part of that team; to be at the Spider-Man retreats, on the conference calls, the e-mail chains, being on the phone with various different Spider writers all the time - just spitballing stuff - having bull sessions, and being able to read everybody's plots and scripts in all the different stages. If someone offered that as a class, you'd take it! I got to study Mark Waid's scripts and see how Joe Kelly worked through revisions! That's gold! All of us got a sense of camaraderie - and a master class on script writing - while making Spider-Man comics for Marvel. And getting paid. It was a pretty good deal.
What can you tell us about your final issue as a team?
Issue #647 is a big, fun, jam issue where we all take a bow. In some ways it's a sentimental journey. It's tricky to say what's in it because I don't want to spoil the end of Mark Waid's "Origin of the Species" for those who haven't read it yet. It's a fun way, though, for a lot of the guys who are going out to say goodbye to their favorite characters. Plus, it's a chance for all of us to have one last big jam working with each other and to enjoying each others' company. Some things from the world of "Brand New Day" get wrapped up. Certain elements get set in place to allow for new beginnings.
In a way, it sounds like the season finale of a TV show.
I would say that's a good way to look at it. For most of the jam, you're going to see a lot of us doing smaller features and complimenting each others' work. Like a lot of our efforts, there're bits and pieces of each of us throughout the issue, because we all jammed together. That said, it was Fred Van Lente who had to go in and do all the heavy lifting. [Laughs]
You're going to get some different features of different lengths - and you're going to get a lead story, but you'll also see some shorts. It's an enormous issue. You're getting a lot; multiple stories and a big lead feature.
I think one of the great things about our editor, Steve Wacker, is that whenever faced with the chance to do something big, he does something big! We've had a number of double sized issues and gigantic issues like "Amazing Spider-Man" #600 - over a hundred pages of material! That's crazy! But it was because of Steve. He does these mammoth projects out of love.
Let's talk a little bit about "Big Time," the new era of "Amazing Spider-Man" that kicks off with issue #648. When you guys began "Brand New Day," there was a large gap in story time and several things happened off camera. Will that be the case with "Big Time" as well?
There isn't as big a gap, but there is a gap. Some stuff does happen off camera, but you're going to see the most important things. The gap really isn't different than what you see issue to issue in any title, because there're always gaps here and there. If you haven't been reading "Amazing Spider-Man," but you want to try out the run starting with "Big Time," it's a good jumping on point.
"Amazing" #648 is 39 pages, so there's definitely room for a lot of interesting and important things go down in the issue. What can people expect from the issue?
This is a big shake up. It's as if I had never been on the "Brand New Day" team and someone came to me and asked, "How would you write 'Amazing Spider-Man?' Where would you like to take the characters? What would you like to do?" So this is as if there was a whole new team coming in, and in a lot of regards, it is.
And, yes, there is a lot going on in "Amazing" #648. So thank God we've got a 39 page lead story to tell it all. This first issue of "Big Time" just explodes and sets up a lot of big things, then we go right into a three-part Spider-Man/Hobgoblin story. The first issue can stand on its own or you can look at it as part of an ongoing story. That's because this book is going to constantly keep coming at you. Things will be happening fast and a lot of stuff is going on, so you don't want to miss an issue.
Speaking of the Hobgoblin, it looks like whoever he - or she - is, they'll be sporting some new toys when they make their return to the world of "Amazing Spider-Man." The images we've seen have shown Hobby with wings and wielding a flaming sword.
Yes, there will be some new things in the Hobgoblin arsenal that will push the character down a more Hobgoblin-y route, so he or she is not just another Goblin on a glider. If Adrian Toomes can have wings, why can't the Hobgoblin? The character is going to have a more medieval, almost gargoyle-like feel. It makes the character a little more unique.
Is there anything you can tell us about the Hobgoblin's modus operandi and motivation in this story?
You're going to have to read the first few issues of "Big Time." The one thing that we're being very up front about is that, when you look at the classic Hobgoblin stories, one of the key elements is this ongoing mystery of "Who is the Hobgoblin? Why is the Hobgoblin doing this? And why is the Hobgoblin doing that?" So that's been done - and done very well. We're going to turn that on its head. By the end of the first issue that focuses on Hobgoblin, you will know who's under that mask. Who Hobgoblin is will not be a mystery for the readers
From what I hear, Hobgoblin isn't the only villain you're bringing back to the pages of "Amazing Spider-Man." You've also got some plans for the Kingpin as well.
Yes - you did see him pop up in the trailer we made, didn't you? He's a Spider-Man villain. Up yours, Frank Miller! [Laughs] Just kidding. Remember, he started out as a Spider-Man villain, so let's bring him back into the fold!
What's it like writing the Kingpin?
Heavy. [Laughs] He's a big guy. There was a recent Kingpin beat that really didn't hit right with me. It was in the "Back in Black" story. There's a moment in that story where Peter Parker just goes, "I'm Spider-Man, and you're just a fat guy! So I get to beat you up!" And I'm like, "Hello? Is it just me? Am I the only one that remembers all those John Romita covers of Kingpin picking up Spidey by his shins and throwing him into walls?" This guy's a brute! He's a mountain! You don't get to go, "You're just a fat guy and I can beat up a fat guy." He's the Kingpin! He crushes people's heads in his hands! He isn't just a fat guy. He's the Kingpin! So we'll see some of that.
The Kingpin's return almost begs the question of whether or not we'll see him square off with the crime lord that's been causing Spidey trouble in recent years - Mister Negative?
We'll have to see. The end of "Shadowland" is going to have some big ramifications for the underworld of the Marvel Universe.
It sounds like Spider-Man will have no shortage of villains to face down when "Big Time" begins, but the images we've seen have suggested that Peter is going to use his science skills to perhaps even up the odds a bit. We recently saw an image of a new high tech looking Spidey suit with a glowing chest emblem.
That suit does something. [Laughs] You'll see what it does, and when you do, you'll know why it looks that way. I've seen a lot of people jumping in and wondering, "Why would someone wear that?" You'll see why.
With the new suit, it's not like when he wore the Iron Spider armor or the black suit. This is more like Spider-Man building specialty suits to deal with problems. It kind of harkens back to when he made the Anti-Electro suit, if you remember that one, or the dreaded Spider-Armor. Pete builds these suits because they serve specific purposes. When he knows that specific purpose is going to arise, he'll don that particular suit. Every other day of the week though he's putting on the beloved red and blues.
So we know that Pete's going to be playing with some new toys and tangling with some old foes in "Big Time," but what can you tell us about his old friends? Who are some of the supporting players that we'll see early on in "Big Time?"
Once we hit "Big Time" you're going to see a wide array of supporting cast characters. If you look at the covers we've released so far you'll see certain characters on the cover. I can tell you that those characters are all in there. So on Humberto Ramos's cover for the first issue you can clearly see Aunt May and her husband Jay, Betty Brant, Carlie Cooper, Randy Robertson is in the background, but wait - who's that new guy?. [Laughs] Then there's Felicia. The Black Cat will be showing up a lot in the first arc, at least. You'll have to read the first arc to find out if we'll see her more after that.
On Stefano Caselli's cover, there's Mary Jane, Flash, Jonah Jameson and his wife Marla. Speaking of the Jamesons, Colonel John Jameson Jr. will be making his return to the book. Of course, you'll see Robbie Robertson and Ben Urich as well.
It also looks like some of Spidey's costumed friends will be playing supporting roles in "Big Time," correct?
When we started "Brand New Day" we really wanted to focus on Spider-Man's world. We wanted to get back to the core elements of the Spidey U. We've done that now for three years. I love the Marvel Universe and Spidey is in the Marvel Universe. So we're going to jump right on in there. We're going to jump in there, "Big Time" ! [Laughs] We've already seen the preview pages with the Avengers. We've also released the solicits for January where you see the New Avengers. And, back in San Diego, we teased a shot of Spidey in a "4" suit. So, hmmm, I wonder who else Spidey is going to be interacting with? [Laughs]
Since you mentioned the story in January, let's talk a little about that. It kicks off on January 5 with "Amazing Spider-Man" #652. What can you tell us about it?
The next story arc, which is being drawn beautifully by Stefano Caselli, is called "Revenge of the Spider- Slayer." It brings Alistair Smythe back to the world of Spider-Man. We used him a couple times in "She-Hulk." I love Alistair Smythe. He's very messed up. He's the son of Spencer Smythe, the original designer of the Spider-Slayers. You may recall that at one point Alistair rebuilt himself as the Spider- Slayer. We already tease in the upcoming solicits that he's helping out Mac Gargan; giving him a makeover, using Spider Slayer technology. That's part of the reason you get a new amped up Scorpion.
In your mind, how dangerous a foe is Smythe?
After Stefano's arc wraps, there will be a profound change to Spider-Man on many levels. What happens during the course of the story is pretty big. Everything in "Big Time" is pretty big. Also, during the course of that story, there will be a change to Spider-Man's roster of powers
Between the changes in Peter Parker's life and the changes happening to him as Spidey, you're going to get a very different kind of Spider-man operating in the Marvel Universe; why he does what he does and how he lives his life. You're gonna have to wait and see.