Tobin & Spider-Girl Explore the Evils of "Spider-Island"

When a teenage Peter Parker was transformed into Marvel Comics' flagship hero the Amazing Spider-Man, his life became very complex and often quite painful. It is only fitting, then, that Anya Corazon, the teen heroine known as Spider-Girl, would have a complicated and painful life as well.

Anya began her career as the super powered costumed heroine known as Araña, a role that became even more complex when she lost her powers. The training she received from the espionage agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. allowed her to continue to be a hero and even survive an assault from the villainous family of Kraven the Hunter. In the wake of the Kravenoff's "Grim Hunt," Anya adopted the Spider-Girl identity and became the star of her own titular series helmed by writer Paul Tobin. The series has shown a painful and tumultuous experience for the young hero. It opened with her becoming an orphan after her father was slain by the forces of a shadowy criminal conspiracy, and now she's trying to root out and destroy the secretive criminal organization.

The loss of her father will haunt Anya for a while, but soon she'll have several other factors complicating her life, including the fact that the summer's big Spider-Man event storyline "Spider-Island" will have begun leaving her and several thousand other New Yorkers suddenly imbued with super abilities similar to Spider-Man. On top of that, some of her oldest enemies are about to return en masse, and the only way to beat them may be for Anya to ally herself with Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime. These elements are all part of the three issue "Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl" miniseries by Tobin and artist Pepe Larraz. CBR News spoke with Tobin about the miniseries, which begins in August

CBR News: Paul, before we get to Spider-Girl's "Spider-Island" adventures, there's still one more issue of the "Spider-Girl" series left to go. In the title, you've been telling a long form story about Spider-Girl's battle against the enigmatic conspiracy that killed her father. Will that story come to an end with "Spider-Girl" #8? Or will some it spill over into "Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl?"

Paul Tobin: I avoid spillage. Spillage is unsightly, and requires those extra absorbent paper towels. Plus, I thought it was important both to close that storyline in the regular book, and also allow new readers (and "already loving-it" readers) to pick up the "Spider-Island" series and dig into a completely fresh storyline, with a completely fresh Spider-Girl.

During the "Spider-Girl" series, and for some time before that, Anya has been a non-powered but highly trained costumed hero. With your "Spider-Island" miniseries, though, she becomes one of the many New Yorkers who get infected with spider-powers. Can you comment at all on how this will affect her psychologically? Is Spider-Girl in danger of over-estimating her new super abilities, or will Anya be approaching her new found powers with a bit of caution?

I don't see it as an either/or situation. She's sixteen years old, and my memories of that time have me being very cautious, but my ideas of being cautious weren't all that well informed. Things such as "only standing on my hands if I'm at least five feet away from the cliff edge" were the height of caution. Anya's a bit like that; her new powers (and they are most definitely new powers) making her reckless even when she's (in her mind) playing it smart. There's more than a wee bit of chaos going on during "Spider Island," though -- and it's hard to cautiously team up with the Kingpin. You pretty much just have to slam the pedal to the floor and hope you survive the race.

From what we've read, it's the return of Anya's oldest foes, the Society of the Wasps, that sets the action of "Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl" into motion. For readers who aren't familiar with Anya's time as the heroine Araña, what can you tell us about the motivations of this particular group of villains? How have they changed for this series and how dangerous are they now that New York has become a haven for people with spider powers?

They've become very dangerous. The powers are amped up, because in their minds, "spiders" are their natural (and hated) enemies. Suddenly -- everyone in Manhattan is developing spider powers? Is this an invasion? An attempt to take over the world and destroy all things wasp-y? They have no choice to pull out their insane big guns to fight the thousands of spiders, and that's just what they do.

The Society of the Wasps is an organization, so we assume they have a leader. What can you tell us about whoever this may be? Is he or she an established character?

[The leader is] original for this project. I've wanted to beef up the organization quite a bit. Change their ways. Their hard times have made them take a hard look at their chances for achieving their goals, and that's led them down some paths that, in my opinion, nobody should take. But there they are, there they went and their leader certainly reflects that. Is that vague enough? Sorry -- some questions can be hard to pin down without revealing a bit too much.

Fair enough. From what we do know, the machinations of the Society and their enigmatic leader catch the attention of Wilson Fisk, forcing the Kingpin to approach Spider-Girl to form an alliance against her old foes. What can you tell us about the dynamic between Fisk and Anya?

It's a stronger alliance that Anya would prefer, I think. Like anybody else, Spider-Girl has a tendency to forget that the very best of the bad guys isn't as good a person as the very worst of the good guys. So, when Spider-Girl realizes that she needs help, and when all of the good guys are way too busy, it almost seems natural to team up with a man that can help her fight for Manhattan's survival. It's just -- she might not understand that she could win one battle, but lose herself in the process.

The Kinpin's new chief enforcer, Phil Urich, the new Hobgoblin, is mroe than a lttle unstable and is also insanely jealous. It seems to me, he would be upset that Spider-Girl and the Kingpin would be working together. Will he play a role in this series? And if so, is he an adversary, ally or wild card?

Highly unstable and insanely jealous. Yeah -- that's the Hobgoblin. In some ways, he's an odd employee for the Kingpin, arguably the most stable villain in the Marvel Universe. I sometimes wonder if the Kingpin doesn't keep him around just to make things more interesting. And, yeah -- the Hobgoblin is around, and he certainly makes things more interesting. As for whether he's an adversary or an ally -- well, he's insane, so I'd have to say he's both. Depends on which panel you're looking at.

Spider-Girl has several friends, both in her costumed and civilian identities. Will we see any of her friends in this series? And is "Spider-Island:The Amazing Spider-Girl" more about Anya's super heroic life, her civilian life or a balance of both?

The series is more about her role in (hopefully) defusing the chaos of "Spider-Island" and Anya redefining her role in costume. There are pieces of her civilian life, to be sure, and it plays a key role. As far as her super powered friends -- they have a presence, but not from a "team-up" aspect. It's kind of hard for Spider-Girl to call up the Young Allies or Avengers Academy and say, "Hey guys! I'm hanging out with the Kingpin! Wanna come over and play video games?"

With the presence of both the Society of Wasps and the Kingpin, it seems like you're telling a story about evil and the difficulty of fighting and recognizing it.

Definitely. I'd say the theme is, "When you're forced to choose the lesser of two evils, how do you fight from becoming evil yourself?"

Pepe Larraz has drawn issues of the most recent volume of "Web of Spider-Man" as well as one of the Nomad back ups in "Captain America," so I'd expect this story to really play to his strengths.

This is the first time I've worked with Pepe and he's really turning in some beautiful pages. The action is as amazing as I was hoping, but where he's really selling it is in the people and atmosphere of New York. It feels like it's all taking place in an actual environment, rather than (as is too often the case in comics) a sound stage at a studio that couldn't afford to hire any extras. Because of that, Pepe is really bringing across the chaos of the event.

We've talked in depth about "Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl" as an individual series. Let's close things out by talking a little bit about the "Spider-Island" event as a whole. What's it like being part of this event nnd what does it all mean for Anya's role in the Marvel Universe?

Having so far used the word "chaos" a rather chaotic amount of times, I'll refrain from whipping it around any more, but Manhattan is really popping during this storyline. Editors Steve Wacker and Tom Brennan have an amazing chart of who's doing what, where they're doing it, when they're doing it and what kind of pizza we should all get once the world is saved. Because of this, I do feel the event is happening in the Marvel Universe -- that we've all done our part to make this a cohesive whole.

As far as Anya's role in the Marvel Universe, and what this series means to it -- that's something Spider-Girl herself needs to address. She's at a time in her life when she needs to choose her path or have it chosen for her, and the Kingpin is right there with his usual strong opinion.

Any final thoughts you would like share about "Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl?"

Just that it's definitely worth checking out what everyone is doing on this overall project. Some beautiful stories and plot integration. Rick Remender is easily one of my favorite writers, and he has some great stuff ahead. And Fred van Lente and Nick Spencer and Christos Gage and Dan "Puppetmaster" Slott and the rest of the crew -- I'm just pleased to team up with them. They all deserve spider powers.

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