SPIDER-MANDATE: "Learning to Crawl" With Nick Lowe

Welcome to SPIDER-MANDATE, CBR's regular column featuring the lowdown on everything Spider-Man. Whether it's the core adventures in "Amazing Spider-Man," the origin story in "Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl" or the upcoming new titles coming in Spidey's corner of the Marvel U, Peter Parker and company have a lot on their plates. Shepherding the flock of Web-Swinging titles is Marvel Senior Editor Nick Lowe, who brings his years of experience as head of the X-Men books to Spider-Man -- and it means he's the man with all the answers when it comes to what's up with Peter Parker and co.

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This week, Lowe discusses the importance of Dan Slott and Ramón Perez's "Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl" along with teases for July's "Spider-Man 2099" debut, the upcoming two-issue revival of "Superior Spider-Man" and when readers can expect a little more news about "Spider-Verse." Plus, Lowe shares some tidbits on how "Original Sin" affects the main story of "Amazing Spider-Man" and, as always, he answers a few questions from the CBR Community!

CBR News: Nick, a lot has happened since we last chatted -- let's start by talking a bit about "Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl." Now that readers have seen the first issue, what are things people should be watching in this book, and how important is the book to Dan Slott's overall narrative in "Amazing Spider-Man?"

Nick Lowe: "Learning to Crawl" is a window into the soul of Peter Parker, which is perfect in a time like this when he's come back in such a big way with "Amazing Spider-Man" #1. There are a lot of things that are important about "Learning to Crawl" -- on a metaphorical level, it defines who he is as a character in a new way. On a more grounded, continuity level, it's literally planting seeds that are going to become important in "Amazing" as we move forward. It's not just a simple re-treading of Spider-Man's origin. It's a two-fold story, because it's Peter's story and Clayton's story -- the character who becomes Clash. And it'll be fun to see is the explanations as to why we've never seen Clash between these early stories and the current-day stories. That's all stuff that Dan has worked out, and I can't wait for that to unfold, both in "Learning to Crawl" and in the "Amazing Spider-Man" stuff moving forward.

What kind of parallels can readers expect to see between between Clayton and Peter? After all, Clash doesn't seem to have any powers at the moment.

The cool thing is that any time you put two similar characters up against each other, you want to do it so you can see what makes them different, and in this case, what makes Peter Parker special. One of the things Dan did very deliberately is, they're both scientific geniuses, as we'll see more with Clash as we move forward. But the backgrounds they come from are very, very different. What we see in Clayton's story is, there is no Uncle Ben, or Aunt May for that matter. He's got parents who seem to love him, but you don't see much of them in his life.

Peter Parker is obviously integral to the story of Spider-Man, Uncle Ben is maybe even more important to the character of Spider-Man, who he is, and why he is because of the lessons he taught. You're going to see a lot of those differences revolve around Uncle Ben and Aunt May throughout the story.

Soon, we'll read the "Amazing Spider-Man" tie-in "Original Sin" issues integrate into the main plot of "Amazing?"

You'll see "Original Sin" in issues 4 and 5 of "Amazing Spider-Man," which is a part of the first arc. As we dive into this volume of "Amazing Spider-Man," a lot is happening for Peter Parker as he is thrust back into this incredibly complex life that Doc Ock has left for him. He's got the company, he's got the relationship with Anna Maria, he's got a lot of stuff going on with his past relationships with Mary Jane, Aunt May -- all these people. To top it all off, he's got Black Cat and Electro, two major villains to come back into his life. And then, to pour more on the topping, the events of "Original Sin" happen, and Peter is left with one of the most complex life situations that he's ever dealt with. That's a lot for Peter. Can he take it? Can he deal with all this stuff at once and come out the other side alive and still Spider-Man? That's one of the cool things we're playing with. We deal with the events of "Original Sin" in the scope of this first arc of "Amazing Spider-Man."

The series has set up Black Cat to be on the villainous side of things, and some of our readers have expressed a bit of concern because of this. Considering how long Felicia Hardy has been on good terms with Spider-Man, what was the impetus to cast her more in a villain role for "Amazing Spider-Man"?

It all comes down to the characters and the story that's being told. "Superior Spider-Man" did some serious damage to the relationship between Spider-Man and Black Cat. Her identity is outed. Everything that she owned -- whether it be through gainful activity or theft -- it's all gone. Her high life is now a low life. She went to prison. Her life was torn apart. When that happens to you, you're left with a lot of tough decisions. We're going to see her go down a very different road.

Do you think it's possible for the two of them to repair that relationship, or is it too damaged at this point?

That's something we're going to have to wait and see. We're sending "Amazing Spider-Man" #3 to the printers this week, and there's a lot of Black Cat in the issue. It really kicks her story into high gear, and we get to start seeing the damage and what they'll have to repair if they have a chance of doing it.

In terms of upcoming projects, we have "Spider-Verse" on the way, as well as the anticipated release of "Spider-Man 2099" -- that's a lot of Spider-Man projects on the horizon. Staring off with "Spider-Man 2099," where can readers get their Miguel O'Hara fix until the July debut?

[Laughs] Well, they're just going to have to be very patient. You won't see Miguel in the first couple issues of "Amazing Spider-Man" at all, other than the backup in issue #1. For the next couple months, they're really just going to have to buckle down and prepare themselves for a couple months without any Miguel. I'll tell you what, though -- when "Spider-Man 2099" #1 hits, it hits hard. It's a great story that Peter David is telling, with Will Sliney doing incredible art. Peter's plans are really going to surprise people. Are there any writers in comics today better at surprising people than Peter David? He's the master of the comic book twist, and he's got some doozies lined up for Spider-Man fans.

You're also going to see a lot of Alchemax business with Liz Allan that Dan started setting up in "Superior Spider-Man" in "Spider-Man 2099."

Of course, "Spider-Verse" is the big Spider-Man event on the way, and there's a lot of buzz around it. While it's still early days, are there any seeds that readers should be keeping their eyes on which lay the groundwork for what's coming up there?

For sure. We're very close to some big announcements regarding "Spider-Verse" and some of the things that are going on. You'll see some little seeds being planted, but to be honest, Dan has been planting seeds for Spider-Verse for a long time in Spider-Man books. The real fun is seeing some of these seeds bloom, and people are going to be like, "That's what he was talking about way back then!"

We've got a couple of reader questions this week, starting with Spidey616.

Since it looks like Superior Spidey will be visiting 2099, any chance of him meeting Serena Patel, better known as Doctor Octopus 2099, first introduced by Dan Slott himself in the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game?

[Laughs] That is a great question! There's some really cool 2099 stuff we hit on in "Superior Spider-Man" #32, and a little bit in #3,3 but I'll neither confirm or deny Serena Patel! I can't wait for people to read these issues. Giuseppe Camuncoli is doing the best work of his career. The future has never looked so cool. The neat thing is, that issue definitely has some "Spider-Verse" stuff going on in it as well, so pay keen attention on that front.

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Also, readers, if you ever get a chance to go to Italy or meet Giuseppe at a convention, definitely talk to him, because he's one of the nicest people in comics, bar none.

Finally, we have a Mary Jane question from CBR Community user RobertMacQuarrie1.

Mr. Lowe,

The last we saw her, Mary Jane seemed intent on moving on from Peter and putting that part of her life aside, with the most recent comic (ASM#1 as of the timing of this question) seeing MJ appearing for only a couple of panels and expressing a somewhat less than enthused attitude towards Peter and his time as Spider-Man. While future solicits for the book to feature MJ's image, there has been little commentary on her role in the book going forward. I of course understand the desire to avoid possibly spoiling any upcoming stories, but how important would you say Mary Jane is overall to the narrative in the series at this time, and are there plans to possibly see more of her in an expanded role in the near future?

Mary Jane is someone we talk a lot about over here. She casts a very large shadow on Spider-Man. Dan's plans for her are very different from anything we've done in the past. One of the things that Dan is really big on is new stories, new characters, new angles -- not just rehashing the stuff that's come before. We won't be seeing MJ as much as we have in the past. She's part of the Spider-Man universe, but it will be really interesting to see what new directions we're going with Peter Parker and Spider-Man.

Got a question for the next SPIDER-MANDATE column with Nick Lowe? Head on over to the official SPIDER-MANDATE question thread or feel free to send your question in via email.

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