SPIDER-MANDATE: "Spider-Verse's" Present, "Secret Wars'" Future

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 recently launched "Spider-Verse" event or the other titles coming to Spidey's corner of the Marvel U, Peter Parker and company have a lot on their plates.

POLL: What Do You Think of Spider-Woman's All-New Look?

This time around, Nick Lowe delves into the latest "Spider-Verse" developments in "Amazing Spider-Man" #11 -- including the issue's big cliffhanger ending -- as well as Jessica Drew's big redesign in "Spider-Woman" -- which arrives after the event wraps -- the danger of the Inheritors and more. Plus, he touches on legendary writer Gerry Conway's return to "Amazing Spider-Man" and his story in "Spider-Verse Team-Up" #2.

Nick, you just got back from the Marvel editorial retreat, where Marvel's top writers and editors get together to plan the upcoming big stories. How did it go?

Nick Lowe: It went great. The retreats are always great because it's a bunch of passionate people working passionately on story. I'm lucky enough to call a lot of these people friends, too, so it was good to connect with a lot of my friends from all over the country and world.

Anything you can tease? Did you cover any of the major Spider-plans for 2015?

We cover everything. We dig into absolutely every book at least a little bit. We did outline our Spider-plans. And, provided there are any comic books after "Secret Wars," we've got some incredible stuff coming up in 2015 and 2016.

Before jumping into anything, we've got to talk about this awesome new Kris Anka Spider-Woman costume redesign. Jessica's one of the few Marvel characters that hasn't had any significant redesign since her creation. What was the motivation to give her costume a new take?

I kind of hate the old costume. [Laughs]

It was a two-fold thing coming in. I wanted a "Spider-Woman" book, and I wanted to change her costume. I debated whether to have it happen right away or after "Spider-Verse," and ended up choosing after "Spider-Verse." I didn't want people to be confused with all these other Spider-people. I wanted everyone to know that this is Jessica Drew / Spider-Woman. This is the Jessica Drew you've known for all these years. So it's coming out of "Spider-Verse" that we hit Jess' new costume and new status quo.

Kris Anka seems like a go-to for Marvel these days to design costumes --

At least for me! [Laughs]

[Laughs] I know! He did a lot of work in the X-Office for you.

Yeah, I hired him for his "Uncanny X-Force" designs and I strongly suggested him to Jeanine Schaefer when they did the no-healing-factor Wolverine costume. I'm a huge fan of Kris' work, and he was my first thought when we were going to do a new Spider-Woman costume.

This costume comes directly after "Spider-Verse" -- is it fair to assume that the costume redesign comes as a result of some big changes to Jessica due to the event?

Definitely. Jess comes out of this event with a very different point of view on herself and her place in the world. It represents a big change for her moving forward.

Getting down to brass tacks, "Amazing Spider-Man" #11 hit stores last week as the latest chapter of Spider-Verse with a huge reveal at the end: Benjamin Parker, Mayday's baby brother, is The Scion. What kind of position does this put May in?

It can't be good for her. That should be pretty clear. She's had a really rough go, but it's mainly just because we love that character so much -- Dan [Slott] and myself. Whenever a character has a huge journey, it means good things for the characterization, but horrible things for their life. This development really puts little Benjy and May into the center of this event. She's been important, but this further solidifies her main character role.

There was also quite a clever twist with Superior Spider-Man, in that he believes Peter is from the past, not the future. We know that Doc comes out of "Spider-Verse" in one piece, but how important of a plot point is Ock's assumption?

It's pretty key to who he is as a person. Doc, especially at this time in "Superior Spider-Man," cannot conceive of his plan not working. It's a pretty big assumption, but it's also really grounded in the character. As for if it has a big role, people are just going to have to wait and see.

"Spider-Verse Team-Up" gave readers one of the most fun "Spider-Verse" stories yet, teaming up Miles Morales with TV's "Ultimate Spider-Man" and the 1960s version of Spider-Man. What drove the creators to put those three in particular together for a story?

First of all, it's Miles Morales, who is one of the best new characters in comics for a long, long time. Second of all, the '67 cartoon Spider-Man was one of Dan's greatest desires to have on-panel. He only got to play with him in a few pages of "Amazing Spider-Man," but we knew that he wasn't alone -- that's a seminal cartoon for a generation of Spider-Man fans. We wanted to make sure he got some good panel time, and it just makes for such hilarious and cool visual possibilities. In "Amazing Spider-Man," Olivier Coipel, Wade von Grawbadger and Justin Ponsor completely nailed the style. In "Spider-Verse Team-Up," Dave Williams, Dexter Vines and Chris Sotomayor also nailed the visuals. I couldn't be happier about how that whole thing turned out.

The other half of the issue was also pretty exciting, because it marked Gerry Conway's return to writing Gwen Stacy, which was really cool.

Gerry and I had already been talking about his arc of "Amazing Spider-Man," called "Spiral." We'd been talking for quite some time about it -- the source of it is in Steve Wacker's tenure here, he had already started talking with Gerry. But as soon as we started talking, we hit it off and saw eye to eye. As we were building that series and the "Spider-Verse Team-Up" series, Gerry had just been a joy to work with and I thought, "We've got Spider-Gwen here. It seems too perfect not to have Gerry write a little Gwen Stacy." I wasn't going to have him write an issue of "Spider-Gwen," because that's such a near and dear thing to Jason Latour and Robbie Rodriguez, but I had this little opportunity and I just had to go to Gerry.

The issue also gave readers new insight into Spider-Gwen, and how she was really affected by the death of her reality's Peter Parker. As she approaches her own series, how much is that guilt going to play into her character?

It's a huge part of her character. That's why Jason laid that track in "Edge of Spider-Verse." It definitely plays a role and will continue to haunt Gwen as she continues her journey to be a super hero -- as will "Spider-Verse." The events of "Spider-Verse" are going to have a continual push on what she's doing. Her character never dealt with anything on that level. It goes back to all these Spider-characters in "Spider-Verse" are going to have to deal with what they've been faced with in this completely mind-bending adventure.

Looking forward to the next bit of "Spider-Verse," "Scarlet Spiders" left off on quite a cliffhanger in its first issue. How many more Earth-001 counterparts will readers have a chance to meet as the series continues?

You'll see a few more, but the main thing it's going to center on are our three clones and Jennix, the Inheritor.

"Spider-Woman" also got off to a fast start, and both Silk and Jessica's presence was certainly missed in "Amazing" #11. When readers head back to get an update on Jessica and Silk, what kind of surprises are they in for?

There's a lot going on. "Spider-Woman" actually ties in incredibly tightly to the events of "Amazing Spider-Man" because its two characters that it focuses on -- Spider-Woman and Silk -- are so central to the story. But Spider-Woman, again, the characterization that Dennis [Hopeless] brings to both these main characters and that whole book is the whole reason I hired him. He does not disappoint.

There have been a number of Inheritors introduced in the pages of "Spider-Verse." How much of Solus' family are actually out there?

At this point, we've met all the Inheritors. We're not going to be surprising you with more. It's a brutal family, and one of the things I love about issue #12 is the cover by Olivier Coipel and Justin Ponsor that is a family portrait of the Inheritors. I love it. It's so creepy.

Before we wrap, "Secret Wars" is the next big thing coming from Marvel, basically hot on the heels of "Spider-Verse." Is there anything you can tease about how and if "Spider-Verse" leads into "Secret Wars?"

There are certainly elements of "Spider-Verse" and "Secret Wars" that work together, as we've already kind of laid track for, but I can't really say much about it at this point -- only that we've released some stuff that plays into what's happening with Spider-Man in "Secret Wars" and beyond, and it's going to make fans' heads explode.

A lot of fans were really excited to see the "Amazing Spider-Man" teaser, where he's married to Mary Jane with a kid on his shoulders. Was it fun for the Spider-Office to work that up and see the reaction?

Oh, totally fun! But it's going to be even more fun when they can read the story and what goes on. When they see this -- I wanna keep talking, but I'm afraid of spoiling things for "Secret Wars," so I have to cut myself off there!

We'll be back to discuss all the upcoming developments from "Spider-Verse" -- so make sure you get those questions in by heading over to the SPIDER-MANDATE CBR Community thread!

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