SPIDER-MANDATE: Unlocking the First "Spider-Verse" Issue

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 upcoming "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.

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, SPIDER-MANDATE goes behind the scenes of "Amazing Spider-Man" #9, the first official issue of Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel's "Spider-Verse," and gets the lowdown on the mysteries sewn into the debut, the importance of The Other, bringing in Miles Morales and Ultimate Jessica Drew as well as how collaboration made the Great Web of Life and Destiny even more dynamic.

CBR News: Nick, Spider-Verse is finally here! With "Amazing Spider-Man" #9, readers got a chance to see that every Spider-hero in Earth-616 is getting pulled into the action. This includes Anya Corazon, who is a fan-favorite among many readers. You really get to see how many Spider-people there are on Earth-616.

Nick Lowe: There are a lot! [Laughs] I read the plot when I first stepped into this office and realized, "Wow, we do have a lot of Spider-characters." The Mattie Franklin fans might be a little mad at us for not including her.

Well, one other prominent Spider-person notably missing was Julia Carpenter -- since she's in a coma. Anything you can talk about in terms of the character's absence? I know some readers were curious about where she might be.

It's pretty much the coma. The main reason that everyone is there is because they're feeling the draw toward Peter Parker. You saw it specifically through Silk, but it's what was drawing them to Manhattan. It's hard to wheel your own hospital bed and life support onto the streets of Manhattan.

But she did show up in "Edge of Spider-Verse." We hinted back at her and what she said in issue #7.

How challenging was it to get Spider-Ham to actually look like he fits with the rest of the Marvel U? Olivier Coipel really did a fantastic job.

Olivier just got it -- he nailed it, he didn't need any help from us on that front. I think part of it is that he's got an animation background, so he can draw anything. There are some artists out there that can only draw superheroes, Olivier is not one of them. Just wait and see as we get further into "Spider-Verse" -- some of the crazy things that he makes feel organic and not more bizarre that they should be. There are some characters that pop up that he just completely nails and does a great job with.

"The Other" is a term that many Spider-Men fans will be familiar with, and you've helpfully added a footnote saying you'll explain what the term means in the context of "Spider-Verse." Spoilers aside, what can you tell us about Kaine's importance to "Spider-Verse" and whether fans should be reading into the term "The Other" given its Marvel historical context.

Absolutely. The Other and what it can do ties in very, very strongly to this tapestry. However, it's not so strongly that you have to have read that stuff before. Dan Slott came up with some really great ways to shorthand what it means, how it works -- all that sort of thing. One key clue to that is when Kaine is fighting Daemos in "Amazing" #9, Daemos actually feels pain for the first time in a long time because of Kaine letting some of The Other out. It's definitely going to play a sizable role in the story.

Kaine plays a very big role in the story -- especially in the "Scarlet Spiders" tie-in book, which is just awesome.

Bruce Banner, we hardly knew ye! As editor on the series, has it been difficult to see so many interesting, creative Spider-Men come out of the pipeline, only for them to be killed a panel after their introduction?

Well, we really wanted to set the tone that nobody's safe. These are bad guys who devour people! [Laughs] They basically eat people and they're terrifying! I think these are some of the scarier villains that Spider-Man has ever faced. Everyone who's created an alternate Spider-Man, have pleaded with me and Dan, "Please don't kill mine!" We're not making a lot of friends in this storyline with some of that stuff, but it makes for a really compelling story.

I know some people have given guff about all the killing, and I hear that to some extent -- but there's also meaning to it in this regard, and it's balanced in a way that only Dan Slott does nowadays. He really balances the lightness and the darkness and the hope -- it's very rare that someone writes with as much hope as Dan Slott does. It's crazy to put one of your biggest supervillains in the body of your hero and make it rife with so much meaning and hope for both the villain and the world. Ock's relationship with Anna Maria and what it does to him in "Superior Spider-Man" is huge, and a big part of what made that story successful is seeing Doctor Octopus see something different in the world.

Dan's great at hope, but he's also really good at building mystery. One of the minor mysteries is Old Man Spider's identity. He seems like a wildcard, especially given that you make a point of keeping his identity a secret. Where can readers continue to keep an eye on the character?

Well, you can get a little more of him -- he's one of the characters in "Spider-Verse Team-Up" #1. You can see him and Spider-Ham and Ben Reilly in a story in that book. Moving forward, he's in "Amazing Spider-Man." That's where you'll see the most of Old Man Spider-Man.

Possibly the moment that will excite fans the most is the reveal of Ben Reilly from Earth-94. Ben's role and past will get a little more detail in "Spider-Verse Team Up" and "Scarlet Spiders," but it's clear that he's a major part of "Spider-Verse," being introduced within the first few pages. What was the reason for saving this reveal for Spider-Verse proper, unlike Mayday, whose new status was revealed in a previous issue of "Amazing?"

We wanted to make sure we kept enough of the cool beats for the first issue of our "Spider-Verse" story as opposed to revealing everything in advance. He was one of the big bullets we had, and we wanted to make sure we used it in the most exciting place possible. Dan had such a great way to queue him up in this one. I really loved the setup and I love how it pays off in that issue. He's a big part of the ongoing "Amazing Spider-Man" issues, and he's an even bigger part of that "Scarlet Spiders" miniseries that I keep plugging.

Miles Morales and Ultimate Jessica Drew seem to be some of the few mainstream Spiders that haven't yet been drawn into the circle of Spider-Men yet. Why haven't the Spiders gone after them?

You have to remember that there are thousands of Spiders out there -- so there's only a matter of time before The Inheritors or our main Spider-Heroes get to them. But I think the main reason, to be completely honest, is story drama. We're trying to make sure they get a proper introduction, and an introduction worthy of their stature. Miles Morales is one of my favorite characters in all of comics. He's such an awesome character, and that's kudos to Brian Bendis, Sara Pichelli and David Marquez. [We're] making sure that his role befits his value as a character, and the same goes for Jessica. I've been a fan of that character ever since she first came into "Ultimate Spider-Man."

And I can't wait for everyone to see what happens to him as we reel from the cliffhanger of this first issue.

The Inheritors get a whole lot of page time in the backup story -- and apparently, they inhabit Earth-001. This is a designation that hasn't been used for a Marvel Earth before, but the number certainly seems significant. Is this an Earth that you've been developing for a while?

It's an Earth that Dan has been developing for a while, just in the process of working up this story. It's a very, very important Earth because of the character who calls it home, the Master Weaver, who we've just teased up to this point in a backup story in "Superior" #33. You'll be seeing him a lot more as the story goes on. He's a very important character to the multiverse and to this "Spider-Verse" story. Just pay attention to what the web is called that he is weaving, and you'll get a little better idea of why he's so important.

The Great Web of Life and Destiny has quite a few Spider-Men that we haven't seen before. Any particular direction that you can point readers to look for some juicy Easter eggs or teases?

A lot of the characters you see there will pop back up in "Spider-Verse." Some are placed very specifically and others are little goofs for fun. One of the cool things about comics is that it's a collaborative medium. When Dan wrote the plot for the backup and gave it to Giuseppe Camuncoli, he left some of the web holes -- "If you want to throw in something you want to draw, go for it." He did make up a couple of things and Dan actually picked some of those characters and is going to include them in later issues of "Spider-Verse." That's just one of the exciting collaboration stories that I love.

Someday, we can talk about some [collaborative moments] from "1602" between Andy Kubert and Neil Gaiman that were a lot of fun. Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert did a fair amount of that as well in "Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine." There's just a lot of fun you can have between creative people.

In addition to The Other, we've learned about The Bride and The Scion. How many more titles are there for particular Spiders of importance to The Inheritors?

Those are the primary three. You'll have to watch out and see what they mean. They're going to be important as we move forward. Exactly who The Scion is, is a question we're going to be asking a lot. Dan had a lot of fun with this prophecy stuff and it's going to play a very big role as we move forward in showing some of the important players on the board.

Ending this week is a question from Aruran. "Hi Nick Lowe, when are we gonna start seeing Norman Osborn again? I understood he was suppose to be in AXIS but you guys had major plans for him so you didn't want him to appear, so when are we gonna see him?"

I hate giving this answer, but you're just going to have to wait and see. Dan has some really cool stuff planned for Norman Osborn. I'll spoil one thing: it's not going to be in "Spider-Verse." But I don't think there's such a thing as a safe Peter Parker when Norman Osborn is out there in the world.

Thanks to Nick Lowe for taking on this week's questions!

We'll be back in two weeks to discuss all the upcoming developments from "Spider-Verse," including "Spider-Verse Team Up" and more -- so make sure you get those questions in by heading over to the SPIDER-MANDATE CBR Community thread. Or, alternatively, you can send over e-mail with the subject line "Spider-Mandate". No matter what your preference, get those questions in before October 31!

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