Marvel Comics held its latest "Next Big Thing" press conference call Monday afternoon, keeping the subject of the call close to the vest until just after the call began. Once Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira were on the line, the pair announced that they would be collaborating on a new ongoing series titled "Avenging Spider-Man," which debuts in November.
James Viscardi, Junior Sales Administrator, moderated the discussion, with editor Stephen Wacker on the line as well.
Wells began by saying that, with Dan Slott holding the reins of "Amazing Spider-Man," "Avenging" will be a blockbuster approach that will see Spider-Man being a superhero throughout the Marvel universe.
"Spidey has been my favorite since I was a kid," Joe Mad said, adding that his four-year-old daughter is also a big fan. "Spidey has always, always, always been my favorite."
Madureira also said he enjoys the fact that Wells is "really funny," even when the story can be serious. The first arc features Spider-Man and the Red Hulk against the Moloids, which the artist appeared quite enthusiastic to draw.
Wacker said that the impetus for the new series was a suggestion of "Marvel Team-Up," which didn't appeal to him, but "the idea of a book starring Spider-Man as a member of the Avengers" worked better from his perspective.
Madureira said "I love drawing Moloids," to the amusements of the others on the call. Wells described a double page spread with hundreds of people—an extremely challenging crowd scene—which Madureira elaborated to add, "it's not just hundreds of people, it's the New York marathon running into an army of Moloids."
Madureira spoke briefly about his time interning at Marvel, where he primarily worked under Danny Fingeroth. He said he enjoyed it as an artist because "I got to handle art from Alan Davis, Jim Lee... 'look what I'm holding, guys!'"
Wells said that there would not be direct crossover between "Avenging" and other "blockbuster" series like "Avengers"—"Dan's doing so much in his book, and Brian [Bendis] is doing so much in his books"—but the series would be integrated as much as other Avengers-centric heroes would be.
The writer also said he thinks "Spider-Man's humor works best when the stakes are real," in response to a question about the tone of the series. "That's when the character's the funniest, when he finds the funny in the grim."
There was a question about inter-dimensional travel, which seemed to intrigue Wells. "This is the book where you could see Spidey leave New York City for a while."
The first Moloid arc is three issues, Wells said, but the second arc has not been cemented yet.
Peter Parker's most personal moments will still occur in "Amazing," Wells confirmed, though meaningful events will be reflected in his and Joe Mad's series.
Wells said one of the great challenges is "finding the perfect villain, and whether that villain is available" is always a challenge, but not more for this book than any other. "Having the entire Avengers rogues gallery at our disposal helps."
Madureira was asked who he wants to draw, noting that they'd run through a few already. Finally, he said, "Wolverine, come on."
"There's going to be a Vulture story, that's pretty early in its inception," Wells said about future villains. "That's the definition of a tease—it's pretty much just in my head at this point."
Madureira noted that he has been working in the games industry in the last few years, but regularly has "an itch" to return to comics. "When they called me up and asked if I wanted to draw Spider-Man, how could I say no? I could be hit by a truck. Which would be bad, because then the issues wouldn't come out."
There's was quite a bit of bantering about Madureira staying on schedule.
Wells praised Mad's storytelling style. "It actually appears to be moving -- you can track all the movements, it's all so fluid, it really blows me away."
"I'm glad that you guys are loving it, because I'm trying to make it cool," Madureira said. "If I finally get my crack at it, and it sucks, ugh! That would be terrible."
Wells said he finds Red Hulk "funny, because he's like a grumpy old man." "I just like to think of Thunderbolt Ross as your grandpa who doesn't like anything."
"Avenging Spider-Man" will not affect "Amazing Spider-Man's" schedule, which will continue to be twice-monthly.
The final question of the call was whether "Avenging" would affect "Amazing's" story. "In my mind, Dan [Slott] is Daddy," Wells said. "I don't want to make Daddy mad. I don't want to spank him. If Daddy likes something we do, he can run with it." All on the call were laughing by the second sentence.
Wacker said that, if the series had launched a year ago, it would reflect the events of "Spider-Island" in current issues—the two series will tie into each other by reflecting current situations in this way.
"Avenging Spider-Man" #1 is on sale in November.