The scientists of the Marvel Universe want to change the world, a goal they succeed in accomplishing with alarming regularity. The downside is, they usually end up changing themselves in the process -- and often, not for the better, with a number of Marvel U scientists having transformed into violent monstrosities as a result of their attempts to improve themselves or the world around them.
In June's "Amazing Spider-Man" #688 Peter Parker will run afoul of two of these wretched and frightening figures. The issue is part the first of a four part arc by writer Dan Slott and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli. Titled "No Going Back," the storyline was announced yesterday during the "Marvel: Amazing Spider-Man" panel at WonderCon. CBR News spoke with Slott about the arc which finds Spidey dealing with both Morbius, the Living Vampire, and the next Spidey villain set to be unleashed upon the big screen, the Lizard.
CBR News: "No Going Back" kicks off right around the time "The Amazing Spider-Man" movie hits theaters. The villain of both that movie and your story is the Lizard. Coincidence? Or strategic marketing move?
This June, Slott and Camuncoli pit Spidey against the Lizard and Morbius, the Living Vampire in "No Going Back"
Dan Slott: When I found out who the villain was in the upcoming Spider-Man movie I thought, "We have got to do a Lizard story!" There's going to be this massive movie and the Lizard will be everywhere. Even people on the street who don't know Spider-Man's world all that well will have an awareness of, "Oh look. There's this villain called the Lizard." So it would be silly not to do a Lizard story.
With that in mind I went back and read tons of Lizard tales, especially the one where we left him in the "Brand New Day" era of Spider-Man, Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo's "Shed." Then I thought, "Okay, if I was doing a movie set during the 'Big Time' run, what would be the biggest, weirdest Lizard story I could tell?" And that's "No Going Back!"
Anyone who's read "Shed" knows that Zeb and Chris took the Lizard to a very dark place -- where he killed his own child. If you're the Lizard's alter ego, Curt Connors, all you wanted was your arm back. You wanted to do this great thing for injured people around the world -- and yourself too. The folly of that cost him everything. His wife, his child and now his very soul. The moment Billy Connors died, that destroyed every trace of Curt Connors. He is only the Lizard now. He has shed every bit of humanity. He's now a reptilian creature, inside and out.
Meanwhile, over in Horizon Labs, the mysterious occupant of Lab Number Six, Michael Morbius, has a similar problem. He is a vampire, a ghoul. He's not a mystical vampire. He's one that's been created by science. During "Spider-Island," he helped Reed Richards develop the Anti-Venom serum into something that could cure people who had been transformed into monsters. He's continued working on this serum to adapt it to himself and hopefully help cure others of their afflictions.
At the end of our most recent Point One story, we saw that he has set his sights on curing Curt Connors, as well -- as a sort of test subject. He's going to use this technology to try and turn the Lizard back into Curt Connors again. Will this new set up work? Does he have a chance? The story is called "No Going Back..." So can you? Is there a way to bring Curt Connors back after everything he's gone through?
Have you ever written a story featuring the Lizard?
Nope. I've written Curt Connors before, because over in "Avengers: The Initiative," we created a female Lizard character named Komodo. Plus, every now and then I've had Curt Connors show up. Like when I was doing a Mister Negative story, I got to lead into "Shed." But this is my first time telling a story with the actual Lizard.
Back in the early stages of "Brand New Day," we weren't allowed to use the Spider-Man villains; the core, classic rogues. They were put on moratorium for us for six months. We were told, "Make your own villains and do your own thing. Let's leave these characters over here." Later, when we started up on "The Gauntlet" storyline, the idea was, "Okay we've left these characters to marinate for awhile. Let's bring 'em back and bring 'em back big." I remember we were all sitting around a table and we were asked who wanted what characters. I made an immediate grab for Mysterio, because there was a Mysterio story I wanted to tell and I was lucky -- I got Doc Ock for issue #600, too.â€¨Then everyone around the table was kind of fighting over the Lizard. Everyone wanted him, and part of me was going, "I want the Lizard too." [Laughs] You want all the toys. You really do. It was amazing how many people in the room were making a bid for the Lizard, but Zeb won. So I've been waiting for my chance to tell a Lizard story. This is going to be a lot of fun.
We've talked a little bit about Morbius before, and I know he's a character you have fun writing. What's his state of mind in "No Going Back?" Is he still a calm and rational scientist, or is he more of a desperate figure?
He's desperate. And in "No Going Back," he'll be dealing with a new complication. For the longest time, he's been a secret at Horizon Labs. We, the readers, discovered he was the mysterious scientist in Lab Six during "Spider-Island," but the people at Horizon have just found out that all this time there's been a vampire amongst them. That's a new development.
It's one thing when you go to work and one of your co-workers is a complete and utter jerk. What if you found out though that they were a vampire! [Laughs] It's bad enough worrying about dangerous things like asbestos in the building. Imagine if you had to worry about a vampire in the workplace? You might not want to check in anymore. Morbius is going to be operating more in the open and Horizon is going to be dealing with this. That's definitely going to be an issue. There's a monster amongst them.
The presence of Morbius, the Lizard, and Spidey himself suggests this story is thematically about good intentions and science gone wrong.
Yeah, that's always been a theme in "Spider-Man," especially whenever Peter is dealing with science. Really, that's been a running theme in Marvel Comics ever since the days when radiation gave you powers.
Is this a large-scale tale that affects the entire city of New York? Or is it a more intimate story impacting just a few characters?
Where does "No Going Back?" take place? What are some of the primary locales where the action unfolds?
The sewers! Lots of sewers! [Laughs] The story will move beyond that, too.
You also mentioned Horizon Labs would feature in the story. Will the primary supporting players in "No Going Back" be the staff at Horizon?
Yes. The Point One issue was a lot of set up and heavy lifting for this story. You'll definitely see more of Uatu Jackson, and there's another character in Horizon that hasn't been getting that much play who we'll start to see some more of. That's Tiberius Stone, who is secretly in league with the Kingpin. So expect some more developments for the opportunistic Tiberius Stone.
Giuseppe Camuncoli is bringing to life all the characters in "No Going Back." His work on characters like Daken has shown he has a real flair for individuals that are both strange and devious, so he seems especially well suited for this tale.
The strange and the devious are definitely things Camo can draw really well, but as the recent Spidey in space two-parter showed, he can bring the funny, too. This is a very dark Spider-Man story. There are moments in here where I kind of worry because "Amazing Spider-Man" is an all-ages book. It really should be. If you're an 8 year-old kid and you ask your mom if you can have a comic "Amazing" should be a safe bet. That said, we're really going to push it [Laughs]. There are some dark, dark, dark things on the way in this four-parter.
Spider-Man can be so many different things. He can be a funny hero. He can have wacky adventures with Frog-Man and White Rabbit. He can have these almost Punisher-like crime stories with characters like Jigsaw and the Kingpin. He can have "Marvel Team-Up"-style stories with the Avengers. He really is a utility fielder when it comes to the Marvel Universe -- and in this story, we're venturing into horror. "No Going Back" is a monster movie, and we're going to see how far we can take it.
With this being a Lizard story hitting stores right around the time "The Amazing Spider-Man," which features a Spidey versus Lizard plot, hits theaters, how new reader-friendly is "No Going Back?" Will this be a story Spidey fans can give to their friends who enjoyed the movie?
Yes. Something I think we've done consistently since the start of "Big Time" is, almost every issue we've done is new reader-friendly. We've heard from people that jumped in during the middle of "Spider-Island" and found it new reader-friendly. People who haven't read Spider-Man comics in a long while found the epilogue of "Spider-Island" to be new reader-friendly. Even people who jumped in with part two of our recent two-part time travel story were able to pick things up right away.
I think we're very good on this book at getting you up to speed and giving you everything you need to know. Practically every issue is a good jumping on point. That said though, being new reader-friendly is definitely our goal with this arc. If you saw the movie and you're suddenly interested in Spidery -- it will be like, "Hey look, there's a comic with Spider-Man fighting the Lizard on the cover!" You'll be able to jump right on into that story too. We'll introduce you to everything you might not know about Spider-Man if you only know him from the movies. You'll be introduced to Horizon Labs, some other characters and you'll find out about the all-new development for Mary Jane.
Does the Spider-Man Office pride itself on making "Amazing Spider-Man" as accessible a book as possible?
At all times, yes, while doing it on the fly so it's hopefully not getting in the way of our regular readers. We've got recap pages usually in the form of Daily Bugle articles or Blog entries from a supporting character that are expertly put together by Assistant Editor Ellie Pyle. She works her magic on those pages and they're fantastic.
We've talked about new fans, so let's wrap things up by talking about long-time readers. What does "No Going Back" offer people who have been along with the "Amazing Spider-Man" ride for a while, now?
One of the things we do a lot in this book is seed things for the future and pay them off. You're constantly getting pay offs to things we set up many issues ago and conversely there are new seeds for future stories peppered in as we go. And in this story there's something that you're not going to see coming -- something that isn't Lizard-related -- something that will sneak it's way into the "No Going Back" arc. So when you're reading this you get this creepy Lizard story and then this other thing is going to come out and clonk you on the head, which is great.
The people who were reading "Spider-Island" were dealing with all this stuff -- and then suddenly, in the middle of it, they discover that Morbius is the mystery guy in Lab Six! It's like, "What? Huh?" Then you're back into the thick of "Spider-Island." So "No Going Back" features... a moment like that.
If you're someone who is jumping aboard "Amazing Spider-Man" because of the movie, there's going to be all this stuff that holds your hand while it introduces you to this fun new world of the "Big Time" era of "Amazing Spider-Man." And if you're a long time reader of "Big Time," you're going to get a nice reward for having been in for so long. You'll be able to go, "Wow! Look at the pay-off to that!"
Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli's "No Going Back" hits "Amazing Spider-Man" this June.