Spider-Man's Back in Black in February

In February, 2007, following the events of "Civil War," Spider-Man will once again don the black costume beginning with "Amazing Spider-Man" #539. What's this all mean? Does this signify the return of the symbiont? What does this all mean for the rest of the Marvel Univerise? We spoke with editor Axel Alonso for more.

Hey Axel, let's get into it. So, you've got Spider-Man in the black costume again, huh? Give us the low down.

In February, Spider-Man will be going back into the black costume. There will be a reason for this and in the post "Civil War" world it will make sense. There are a number of details that we're still working out right now, but we do know this will be the "Back in Black" event, so in all three Spider-Man titles and elsewhere he'll be appearing in the black costume. That will take place February through June. In July, that's when we're teeing up our next event.

So, Peter's back in the black costume. Does this mean the symbiont has returned? Does this mean he's just back in the black costume?

You'll have to wait and see. In the post "Civil War" world the black costume makes sense.

And JMS is still on the title at this point, right?


It sounds to me like the black costume is, in many ways, a metaphor for what the Marvel Universe has become following "Civil War."

What I'll say is that it's a metaphor for how Spider-Man is feeling.

Wow. OK. A costume change is simply that, but does this have larger implications for the Marvel Universe?

Well, I hesitate to use words like larger implications because there are catastrophic things that have happened that involve buildings toppling, and then there is stuff that reflects on character, so it depends on what you mean by that. It's no small decision for Peter to go back into the Black costume - it's reflective of his state of mind. I'm not playing my cards when I tell you that the fact it's in a post-"Civil War" setting is relevant. A lot of things will occur in "Civil War" that affect Spider-Man on a personal basis, so he has good reason to get into this costume, let's put it that way.

I don't want to make this sound like I think Spider-Man/Peter Parker is any sort of wimp, but in many ways the character is one of the more sensitive members of the Marvel Universe, so this all makes a certain amount of sense.

Well, the thing about Peter Parker is he's very different from let's say Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. His role in "Civil War" reflects his role in the larger Marvel Universe. This is a guy who crashes on his Aunt's couch - he doesn't own a mansion and he didn't fight in World War II. In that light, if you take a look at something like "Civil War," Steve Rogers and Tony Stark come to this as full-formed adults with very firm convictions in what they believe in. Peter is like the rest of us - kind of always in a search to find himself. Of course, there are basic values that he has and we all know what those are. I think of him as being sort of the heart of the Marvel Universe - he's the guy who makes mistakes, corrects those mistakes and tries to get better.

Does this also signify a change in the way Spider-Man/Peter Parker will act in the Marvel Universe?

To a degree, yes, but it's also reflective of what he's gone through and what's acted upon him. Again, I have to be a little bit cryptic because there are story reasons why he's going into the black costume and, again, it's reflective of his state of mind and his reality.

One thing comic fans always wonder about are the long term affects of any sort of major change to a character. Here we're potentially seeing a new side of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. How will this play out for Peter?

Let's just say it is part of the long-term ramifications of what he's been through. All due respect, sometimes it's hard to answer these questions because it's almost like people want to know if this or that will have long and final earth shattering ramifications or something. Again, it all comes down to how you look at it. Some of the best stories are the more subtle ones. The death of one's parent, for instance, is that earth shattering and does it have long term ramifications? Yeah, on one level it absolutely does, but on another level it's a small personal story and then someone makes peace with that and moves on. So, in that light, we're trying to look at him as being a real character who's been through a real experience in "Civil War" and a real experience that has been affected by what he's seen happen, how he's participated in it, who wins and if in fact they really win, who looses and if in fact they really lost and who's still around when the smoke clears. All of these things are relevant. So, yeah, in one sense you could say it'll have long term ramifications. Will he stay in the black tights forever? I don't think it's any sort of spoiler when I say odds are you'll see him in the red and blue again. Again, the question is what does it mean to him at this moment, why is it crucial, why is it important and what does it reflect?

Now, obviously this storyline isn't just about a guy in a black costume. What can you say about what you'll be exploring in this storyline?

Again I have to be cryptic, but we know that Peter will be put through the ringer physically and emotionally. When the smoke clears he'll have to look at himself in the mirror and look around to see who's still standing. His relationships with a number of people will be profoundly changed. Again, even subtracting Spider-Man out of the equation, the relationship between Captain American and Iron Man is changed. For the long term? Yes. Forever? We'll find out. Likewise with Peter.

We prefer to look at these characters as being characters and not icons. They're going to bounce back from everything until we decide we're willing to kill them, and sometimes even then! [laughs] At the end of the day, what you're looking at is that the most important thing here is in February Peter will exist in a world in which the "Civil War" has been resolved and now he has to get on with the hard task of living.

Now, the next Spider-Man film features Peter in the black costume. Was the impetus for moving Spidey into the black costume based solely on the film?

For the most cynical fans out there who'll say Marvel wants Spider-Man in the black costume because of the movie, they're only 10% right. The beauty is we knew 16 months ago as we were planning out the thrust of "Civil War" and beyond, how all of this laid out beautifully for us to move into the future. So, the thing is the timing is perfect. We understand the motivations behind the change. The same as when we were planning "Civil War" and people would guess that maybe Cap would be the pro-registration guy and some complained that he would be, but then they saw how it was rendered and why he was motivated to do what he did. That's what's driving us right now. Character motivations and how they react to what's going on around them.

So, you're saying that it's mostly a lucky bit of synergy that the black costume plays well into your plans, while at the same time the film makers are making this change as well?

Right. We didn't have to reach for reasons to put him in the black costume.

Allright. Thanks, Axel.

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