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 tie-ins to the upcoming "Secret Wars" event or the other titles coming to 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.
This week we looked at the full Spider-line in general, with Lowe discussing "Secret Wars" titles "Spider-Verse" and "Renew Your Vows" and the artist bringing "Silk" to life. Plus the Spider editor touches on working with Gerry Conway, answers your questions and speaks out about the Spider office's love for "Spider-Man Too: 2 Many Spider-Men!"
CBR News: There's a lot of big stuff happening in your neck of the woods, but let's start with the most recent releases, beginning with Gerry Conway writing Spider-Man again in his five-issue Spider-Man Point One story, "Spiral." What's it like saying you've now been the editor on a Gerry Conway story?
Nick Lowe: It's pretty unbelievable! There are few writers who tower over the Spider-Man mythos the way Gerry Conway does, which is even better when you met him because not only is he a delightfully nice man, he is a truly terrific writer. That shouldn't come as a surprise, but I hadn't read much of his stuff in years and he came back with great ideas, great scripts; he's just a pleasure to work with.
The story he's coming back with is this crime boss/gang war in the Spidey Universe, and just the idea feels a little reminiscent of his 80's "Lobo Brothers Gang War" -- is this story sort of an homage to that history?
It was multifaceted. The whole project started when Steve Wacker was still editor. He had been talking to Gerry about doing something right before he left, so I had the joy of picking that up. Gerry had just pitched this story about Spider-Man and crime and the Wraith. He had a really awesome pitch for the story, and as we talked about it more and more it became clear it would end up being about the crime landscape of New York City and what that means to Spider-Man. I think it's something that Gerry has natural tendencies and interests towards writing about; he had written for "Law And Order" for a long time and of course as you've mentioned, the Lobo Brothers crime story he's done in the past. It just made it a no-brainer when he pitched it. It was perfect! It was different than what Dan Slott was doing in "Amazing Spider-Man," so it was a perfect pitch from Gerry and was very easy to approve.
Last month you guys launched "Silk" and "Spider-Gwen" and this month we've got the new issue #5 of "Spider-Woman" with a new costume and outlook. I know last month we spoke with Jason Latour about "Spider-Gwen" and the expectations around that book, but these other two new books have solidly positive reactions. On your end, what were your sales expectations and fan expectations for three books coming out in quick succession?
I wish I could say it's all part of a brilliant master plan! [Laughs] Almost all of them grew completely organically out of the characters. The only one I can claim all that much credit for is the basic existence of the "Spider-Woman" book and even then I can't claim full credit. That always goes to the creators because they're the ones who breathe full life into it. We just got a fan letter in from someone who hadn't been reading Spider-Man much and they got hooked through "Spider-Verse" and they talked about Gwen of course, but they were really taken by how Dennis [Hopeless] wrote Spider-Woman in the event. It's really humbling and it makes you feel really good as an editor when you find someone with the right voice to connect with people.
To me, the books have always been about the characters, starting from when I was a young reader and hooked on the X-Men in seventh grade. These characters had big splashy powers, but they also had an interior life. That's what always kept me coming back for more. That's really been the fun of all the big successes of "Spider-Gwen," "Silk" and "Spider-Woman." I'm just glad to be along for the ride and making plans for it. Again, "Secret Wars" is coming so everything is coming to an end with that, but it's been a great ride with these books thus far.
Since "Secret Wars" is coming up, let's talk about the Spidey books that we know are part of it, "Renew Your Vows" and "Spider-Verse." I know you guys have been quiet about what exactly is happening around "Secret Wars," but what can you say about the "Spider-Verse" book and Dan Slott's title?
I'll start with "Spider-Verse" since it is coming out first. This "Spider-Verse" book picks up from the end of "Spider-Verse" and carries it to the next level. It involves Spider-Gwen, it involves Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Man India, Anya Corazon, the 616 Marvel Universe Spider-Girl; it involves Spider-Ham and Spider-UK. Those are the main characters in "Spider-Verse." It's all centered on Battleworld, and I can't dig too much deeper in there, but at the end of "Spider-Verse" you have Spider-UK and Spider-Girl from 616 talking about how there are a bunch of worlds now without Spider-men and women because they died in and around the events of "Spider-Verse." So they discuss, "Maybe we should try and help those universes." Those elements all play into it.
Now what I can talk about is how good the "Spider-Verse" series is! We start with an oversized first issue, the whole thing is written by Mike Costa and drawn by Andre Araujo; it is such a cool first issue and it plays very much into the "Secret Wars" concept, the Battleworld concept, but it's different than just about any of those other books because of the nature of these characters. Not to sound like a broken record here, but what I like about this book is the characters. We're getting to know Spider-Gwen much better through her series of course, but Mike picks up from what Jason and Robbi [Rodriguez] are doing in that book, and then Spider-Man Noir, Spider-UK and the rest Mike has been injected such wonderful character into them. I can't wait for people to read that. Not to mention the incredible art of Andre Araujo; he has a couple issue of "Inhumans" and he did "Avengers A.I." but he is a crazy mix of Otomo and Frank Quitely! [Laughs] It's this mad mix of art styles and I think people are going to get their socks knocked off.
Then there's "Renew Your Vows" and I don't want to say too much about this because I want it to speak for itself. But it is such an incredible book. Dan and Adam [Kubert] are kicking so much butt on it! Adam did the first issue; he is working on the second issue already, and we're working on some covers, but theses are two people having a great time working on this book. It is such a beautiful book; it's an incredible next step for Spider-Man. I hope people will read it -- I know they'll enjoy it if they give it a shot.
Just because you've been talking about the art so much, I'd be remiss if I didn't go back a little bit to talk about Stacey Lee on "Silk," because what she's doing there is so different than the rest of the Spider books.
Plus I was reading that right after watching "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," so it's hitting a "girls in bunkers" zeitgeist--
[Laughter] It's kismet! The "girls in bunkers" trend is riding high right now! It's so funny, I'm a huge fan of "Kimmy Schmidt" -- I'm about halfway through and the ["Too Many Spider-Men"] Spider-Man episode of that had me in absolute stitches. That show is too good! Robbie Thompson called me to talk about it, Dan Slott called me to talk about it, everyone was watching the show and with good reason!
To get back to where you started, "Silk" is such a special book and Stacey is the heart of that. She's just so good and it's such a pleasure to work with her. She's wrapping up issue #3 for us right now and the art is just gorgeous. All credit to her beyond the book goes to [editor] Ellie Pyle who cast her. But like you said, the art on this book is a testament to what's going on here, and of course a testament to Stacey. Broken record warning: my favorite thing is the character acting she does. The faces that Cindy makes, that her brother makes, J. Jonah Jameson -- it's all understated in some ways but it's also evocative of the interior lives of these characters. And it's so dynamic; there's huge action things Stacey does in such interesting ways. We're going to hang onto her as hard as we can here at Marvel because we love her work.
Before we get to fan questions I wanted to touch on the fact that you've got all these new books and artists coming out right as we're about to enter "Secret Wars." While we don't know all the details it seems like it's setting up for a big status quo change across the entire Marvel Universe. How do you expect to launch and maintain fan interest in these books when we know a big event like "Secret Wars" is coming and that may change everything you're doing in these books?
Well, we just trust our creators, plain and simple. Talking about "Renew Your Vows" specifically, Dan Slott has now written more issues of "Spider-Man" than anybody, and there's a reason for that. I would have had a perfect opportunity, if I wanted to, when I came in on the Spider-Man books to take Dan off of "Amazing Spider-Man" and put somebody else on. That can often happen when there's editorial changes. But not only was I a big fan of Dan's Spider-Man, everyone in the world seems to be, too -- it's such a great book and he has such a keen vision for this character and for pushing Peter in new directions. I'm trusting in Dan and the incredible art of Adam to bring our readers along. The same goes for all these books. All an editor can do is put the best creators on the best characters and hope the story and fans do the rest. I couldn't be prouder of my creators on "Spider-Gwen" and "Spider-Woman" and "Silk" and the same goes for "Spider-Verse" which is coming up as part of "Secret Wars" and for some other stuff we have on the horizon. I hope people give these books a chance, and I think they'll be really happy with them.
Then let's move over to fan questions, the first question about Spider-Man coming from JBatmanFan05!
Oh no, they've got to change their name! [Laughter]
JBatmanFan05 asks: Dear Mr Lowe,Â "The Owl/Octopus War," Spectacular Spider-Man #72-79, was voted by CBR to beÂ #17Â in the 50 Greatest Spider-Man stories list, one of Bill Mantlo's top best stories. Slott even referenced it in his run.
This story still remains uncollectedÂ in color. Does Marvel have plans to finally collect this fan-loved Spidey classic in tpb in color? (If not, can you make plans?)
[Laughs] That's not really my department but I will ask. It's certainly a great story; we've slowly been collecting damn near everything. I'll do what I can, but I will say that I hope fans know how good they have it nowadays. Here comes Old Man Lowe Time: when I was a fan, the only choice I had was to dig through back-issue bins and hope to find the majority of pieces of a story. I can only imagine what young Nick Lowe would have done with access to trade paperbacks and the Internet and all these things for those stories. It just blows my mind how comprehensive it's gotten, and I hope everyone is appreciative of how lucky they are. Uphill, both ways!
Literally, as New York is covered in snow right now.
Exactly! And tell JBatmanFan05 that if he changes his name, the chances get better. [Laughter]
The next question comes from Spidey616, who asks:Looks like Kaine's story is far from over. Where next can we expect to him appear? Also curious if we'll be seeing Aracely/Hummingbird's reaction to what happened to Kaine and if Chris Yost will be continuing Rise of Mictlan plot he first introduced in the "Scarlet Spider" title?
I will not reveal where we're going to see Kaine next. Kaine fans will have to wait a little while, sorry to say, but we wouldn't have had a panel of a hand coming out of that husk if there weren't something coming down the line. So keep reading! As for Aracely we'll see him again -- keep reading! Nothing would make me happier than working with Chris Yost again because he's the bee's knees and I've been working with him almost the majority of my career here at Marvel. I'm sure we're going to work together again soon.
Finally the last question comes from SickAlice, who says:Something that isn't news but great job to the team on Spider-woman. Number five seriously exceeded expectations and got positive comments right out the gate not only from people who where open to it but more importantly from those who were unsure of it which ofÂ course says a lot. Myself I'm very finicky and it immediately got my approval. Looking forward to more. That said where can see Jess going from here and importantly into Secret Wars, more so I know what to get ready to pull?
[Laughs] The good thing is keep looking at you solicits because "Spider-Woman" is not done yet. Keep reading! As far as whether she'll be in "Secret Wars," look at announcements, but Dennis and Javier and Greg before that have been doing a great job with her. Especially now with issue #5 and our new mission statement, our new status quo, these two are just getting started, and I hope they can continue -- if "Secret Wars" leaves any of this intact, any of the Marvel Universe as you know it intact!
We'll be back to discuss what's next for Spider-Man and the Spider-books, so make sure to send questions our way by heading over to the SPIDER-MANDATE CBR Community thread!