THE RETURN: Slott talks "Amazing Spider-Man"

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains amazingly huge spoilers for "Amazing Spider-Man" #560, on sale now

The current Brand New Day era in Marvel Comics' "Amazing Spider-Man" was born out of last year's controversial "One More Day" storyline. In its climatic chapter, the Demon Lord Mephisto approached the then-married Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson with a proposition: if Peter and Mary Jane "sacrificed" their marriage, Mephisto would use his abilities to save the life of Peter's dying Aunt May. Seeing no other way to save their loved one Peter and Mary Jane reluctantly agreed.The deal altered certain events in Peter and Mary Jane's personal timelines, creating a present day in which they were never married.

Spider-Man's new world is populated by a large cast of supporting characters, both new and familiar. But one very important person is missing from Peter's life. That is, until now. In the final page of "Amazing Spider-Man" #560, in stores now, Mary Jane Watson makes her first Brand New Day appearance. CBR News spoke with writer Dan Slott about the character's "debut" and what lies ahead in future issues of "Amazing Spider-Man."

The one thing more shocking than Mary Jane's reappearance is the fact that she's at the home of her current boyfriend, a hot-headed actor named Bobby Carr, a new character readers were introduced to issue #559. Carr's explosive behavior in previous stories may have readers wondering why Mary Jane is so happy to see him in issue #560. "So far we've only seen one facet of Bobby Carr, as the guy that the public is constantly poking and prodding at," Dan Slott told CBR News. "Now with MJ we'll get a chance to see the private side of Bobby Carr. He might surprise you. Or not."

Eagle-eyed readers may notice that in the final page of issue #460, when Mary Jane greets Bobby Carr, she's holding a copy of Johann Von Goethe's classic play "Faust," the story of a man who makes a pact with the devil. "That might just be Marcos [artist Marcos Martin] messing with you," Slott laughed. "But if you want to pick at that go ahead. Trust me; we're giving you plenty of ammo on this page. This page is one big Rorschach test. If you want to see something to get riled up about, you'll see that. However, if you want to see something fun there, you'll see that instead!"

At the end of "Amazing Spider-Man" #560, Peter Parker isn't aware of Mary Jane and Bobby Carr's relationship, but his work as a paparazzi for the DB -- the news source The Daily Bugle has morphed into since it was purchased by Dexter Bennett -- means Peter's bound to find out. Especially since Dexter Bennett is offering a two-million-dollar paycheck for a photo of Bobby Carr and his mysterious new girlfriend.

"So far, Pete's only taken pictures of a celebrity being a jerk in public. I've seen some readers suggesting that Peter's matured over the years, and that he'd never be a paparazzo," Slott said. "But think of anybody you know who's Peter's age, and how everyday they surprise you by making some new mistake. I'm way older than Pete, and I make tons of mistakes all the time.

"In the Marvel Universe, the super powered people aren't paragons, they're 'guys you know.' They're not heroic because they're perfect. They're heroic because when they do screw up, they don't give up. And no Marvel hero exemplifies that more than Peter Parker. Seriously, if you take all his blemishes away and make him a flawless, accomplished hero -- he's not Spider-Man any more. He's Captain America."

In the new timeline of Brand New Day, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson did have a longterm relationship, but they eventually broke up. It's been implied in the pages of "Amazing Spide-Man" that some time has past since Peter last saw Mary Jane, but not enough to sufficiently heal any emotional wounds he may have suffered from their break up. "All the [classic] stories with MJ still happened," Slott explained. "It's just now they were a couple living together instead of being married. So there's a long, wonderful, rich history with these characters. And you're going to have to read issue #561 to see how they'll interact this time. Afterwards, though, some of you might want to sharpen your pitchforks, light your torches, and come looking for me."

In "Amazing Spider-Man" #561, Peter might not have much of a chance to dwell on his feelings about Mary Jane's new beau. He'll be too busy dealing with another person not happy with Bobby Carr and Mary Jane's romance, the super powered stalker Paper Doll, who made her debut in issue #559 "This issue is the Spider-Man/Paper Doll showdown," Slott confirmed. "At the end of issue #560, when Paper Doll killed Bobby Carr's agent, she learned Carr's current address--and that he's there with his current girlfriend. Uh-Oh! That can't be good, right? So it's up to a certain Marvel flagship character to ride in on his webs to the rescue."

In creating Paper Doll, Slott wanted to come up with a stalker armed with the creepiest set of super powers possible. "Her powers are based around her desires. If she could, she'd be a fly on the wall and watch Bobby Carr all the time. Brrr," Slott said. "Now that I've written a Paper Doll story I'm really excited about writing another. I'm already taking down notes and ideas for her next go. She's pretty complicated for a two-dimensional character! In her mind she's the protagonist. She has this desire and is trying to get to it. And Spider-Man is this annoying obstacle in her way."

Some readers suspect Mary Jane might be able to stand up to Paper Doll on her own. In "Spider-Man: Swing Shift," Marvel's 2007 Free Comic Book Day offering, which was penned by Slott, the super powered heroine Jackpot made her eye-catching debut. Jackpot's identity is currently a mystery, but her long red hair and penchant for calling people "Tiger," a nickname Mary Jane famously gave Peter, have many longtime Spidey fans believing Jackpot is truly Peter Parker's old flame. "People have a lot of questions about a great many MJ-related things," Slott remarked. "There's every chance you'll get a good answer to at least one of those in two weeks' time."

Paper Doll wasn't the only villain Slott introduced in "Amazing Spider-Man" #559. Readers also met Screwball, a villain who uses Parkour, or urban gymnastics, to carry out robberies that she broadcasts live on her website. "Screwball is a hoot to write," Slott stated. "People were asking, 'Why couldn't Spider-Man catch her? He's got Spider Powers and she just knows Parkour.' To answer that I'd like to point out three things: One, Spider-Man didn't want to help her pirate website get more hits. In the opening scene he says he's trying to stay back and out of frame.

"Two, we never say Screwball doesn't have super powers. She's a super-villain. There's no rule that she has to tell Spider-Man everything. And I think when people eventually see how and why she's a master of Parkour, they'll go, 'Oh okay. I get it. That's completely fair.'

"And three, even if she doesn't have super powers (and I'm not saying that's the case), think back to the Black Cat's first appearance. She was a human level character with acrobatic skills and she gave Spider-Man a hard time."

Peter's boss will also make his life miserable in the months to come. "In issue # 560 you'll see that Dexter Bennett might not be the idiot he appears to be, and in issue #561 we'll see some Dexter Bennett stuff that might make you look at the character in a new way," Slott explained. "He's obviously someone who has his own agenda. He's a backer of Randall Crowne in the upcoming mayoral election and the DB is very much a Crowne paper.

"He's also lowering the standards of the DB in order to do things that the Daily Bugle would never have done under [previous boss] J. Jonah Jameson. The DB is becoming an all out tabloid, not just in it's format but content too," Slott continued. "Originally, the Daily Bugle's only Achilles ' heel was that it never gave Spider-Man a fair shake, besides that it pretty much gave you the straight dope. This is not the case with the new DB. Bennett's turned it into New York's trashiest, most opinionated, and best selling rag."

"Amazing Spider-Man" #561 marks the end of Slott's first collaboration with artist Marcos Martin. "I loved working with Marcos and I want to work with him again and again," the writer remarked. "One of the things I like the most about the way Marcos draws is the way he thinks through a page. Every line that that's there is telling the story, whether it's advancing the plot, showing a character acting, or leading your eye effortlessly to the next panel. The layout, his characters, his design sense, and his style are of the highest caliber. The man's a master!"

June's "Amazing Spider-Man" #562 sees Slott and Martin rotating out as writer Bob Gale and artist Mike McKone take over the book for a two-issue arc. "I read that issue in black and white with all the lettering and all of the stunning Mike McKone art, and I think it's Bob's best script yet," Slott declared. "It's a great, funny, and fast paced issue. It's got lots of action, awesome characters, and everything I want in a comic!"

Slott joins Gale, fellow writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Paulo Siqueira for July's "Amazing Spider-Man" #564. "We're doing one story with three writers as a bizarre 'brain trust' experiment," Slott explained. "We're each telling the same story from different points of view and it all comes together as this one unique story -- and it's all tied together by Paulo's dynamic pencils. Working on this was a blast!

"After that," said Slott, "Marc Guggenheim's up to bat, with a really chilling story with Phil Jimenez! It is such a page-turner! I've gotten goosebumps reading the plots! And all of Phil's art really brings it to life! We're so lucky to have Phil on this book! That arc's gonna blow people away!"

Then on August 20, Dan Slott and artist John Romita, Jr's much anticipated six-part "New Ways to Die" story begins in "Amazing Spider-Man" #568. "There's a lot of really big Spider-Man moments in 'New Ways to Die,'" Slott teased. "It's really the first time that we're bringing out the heavy hitters. We've kept all of Spidey's classic bad guys on a shelf-- and suddenly we're going to give you Norman Osborn, the Mac Gargan Venom, and we'll Eddie Brock show up again.

"We'll also going to see Spider-Man fight a heavy hitter he's never fought before," Slott continued. "Go back and check and you'll see that Spider-Man has neverr fought Bullseye. There's a bit I've wanted to do if Spidey ever fought Bullseye, so I'm really looking forward to that. You're going to get a bunch of Bullseye's fellow Thunderbolts coming after Spider-man as well. It looks amazing. And the biggest heavy hitter on this book? John Romita Jr.! Every time his pages come in, I totally have a freak out moment and scream 'Look at this!' They're all amazing!"

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