Dan Slott flew solo in his "Amazing Spider-Man" panel at Wizard's Chicago Comic-Con Sunday. The Marvel writer, originally slated to moderate a Q&A with series artists Mike McKone and Jeff Campbell, instead took center stage to field questions about upcoming events in his near-weekly comic.
"Did you guys read issue #600?" he asked, receiving a round of applause from the audience for the recent giant-sized issue. "All that praise should be going to [editor] Steve Wacker," he responded, "who really killed himself on that book."
Slott’s tone for the panel was extremely giving, spreading out compliments among his rotating team of creators including Mark Waid and Fred Van Lente. Wacker received the Bulk of Slott’s admiration, however. "Imagine being the editor and you’ve got to put out like 100 and 204 pages of all-new material with tons of different artists and different creators and a schmuck like me doing the lead and taking forever to write it," he the writer explained.
Slott summarized where the series’ story leading up to issue #600, and cited the coming benchmarks readers should expect in Peter Parker’s life. "Now, MJ’s back," Slott affirmed, using a board-game euphemism to discuss Peter’s subsequent infidelity to the love of his life. "Peter Parker did something he shouldn’t have – two things he shouldn’t have. We will call it Parcheesi – and imbibed."
Slott talked a bit about why the man behind the Spider mask doesn’t usually drink alcohol, but how it usually means bad things for the hero. "We’ve seen it once or twice over the years, and it’s led to bad things happening.” That fallibility is part of what fascinates him with the character, though, and lies at the core of what he and his team want to explore. "[Peter Parker] is a person with feet of clay. We call him an everyman."
The human mistakes he makes drive the subsequent story arcs, but also provide the questions that Slott says they try to answer. "It’s fun every now and then to see him goof up and to see him make mistakes and see him make the wrong choice," he said. "The thing is, what do you do after you’ve made the mistake? How do you live your life?"
During Slott’s Q&A period with the audience, one of the first questions was in regards to the webslinger’s post-"One More Day" life, where Mephisto erased Peter’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson from history. "One thing’s changed," Slott confirmed. "There’s one thing that happens differently, which is something on the wedding day, and that’s a story where there is a script in the drawer and that story will be told."
According to Slott, all other events in the Spidey’s life have occurred as they were previously written, with the one exception of the couple’s marital status. "They’re a committed couple living together.”
What has been left in question, however, is whether or not Mary Jane now knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man – a question Slott said would be addressed "Amazing Spider-Man" shortly. "When you read #601, it seems like MJ knows that Peter is Spider-Man," he teased. "In #602 you will know for sure."
Other issues from Spider-Man’s past that will be addressed soon include the deeds of his clone, Ben Reilly, which writer Marc Guggenheim will tackle in his upcoming arc. "Guggenheim just loves the Ben Reilly era of Spider-Man," Slott said. "If you guys read the Annual, you’ll see that there was a new character, Raptor, who has some beef with Ben Reilly, and thinks that Peter Parker is just Ben Reilly using a different name."
Slott, meanwhile, will be pulling out one of Spidey’s classic villains for his turn in a series of arcs that will run under the “Gauntlet" banner. "I’m doing the Mysterio arc," he stated, "and I feel like I won.”
One villain Slott remained quiet about was Venom’s symbiote offspring Carnage, who one attendee inquired after. "I’m not talking about Carnage," Slott responded. "You’re going to have to wait.”
The writer did appear hopeful, though, trailing off with a coy, but non-committal revelation. "If you could only look into my little sketchbook," Slott said, opting instead to talk about Spidey’s new John Romita Jr.-designed enemy Anti-Venom, in Zeb Wells’ new miniseries "Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Anti-Venom – New Ways to Live," which launched in September. "You’re going to see Anti-Venom dealing with Frank Castle. We’ll see if anyone lives by the end of it. "
Slott sounded most excited about Van Lente’s plans for the villain Mr. Negative in the third issue of "Dark Reign: Mr. Negative," which comes out later this month. "Does Martin Lee know that Martin Lee is Mr. Negative? " he posed. "In Fred Van Lente’s Mr. Negative mini, you will find out the secret origin of Mr. Negative and how it relates to a part of Spider-Man continuity and history."