Over the course of his almost 50 years in existence, the amazing Spider-Man has faced and overcome many obstacles, but none have been as prevalent as the force of change. Back in his first appearance in “Amazing Fantasy” #15, Peter Parker's life changed when he was bitten by a radioactive spider and found himself with great powers and even greater responsibilities. Later, Parker's life changed again when he married Mary Jane Watson. Twenty years hence, Peter's life changed yet again when magical machinations caused his marriage to Mary Jane to be erased from existence, whereby they still had a life together but never officially tied the knot, as chronicled in the controversial “Amazing Spider-Man: One More Day.”
“One More Day” also changed the way Spider-Man’s comic book series were published. In January of 2008, the “Brand New Day” initiative began and “The Amazing Spider-Man” became Spidey's only ongoing Marvel Comics series, published three times a month rather than the traditional once and, as such, requiring the talents of a roster of creators. The first writer to kick of that new era was Dan Slott in “Amazing Spider-Man” #546.
This October, after a mind-blowing 101 issues in less than three years, the “Brand New Day” era comes to an end with the release of “Amazing Spider-Man” #647, bringing with it even more change to Spider-Man: beginning with November’s “Amazing Spider-Man” #648, the book will shift to a bi-weekly schedule and be written solely by Dan Slott with artwork by Humberto Ramos, Stefano Caselli, and Marcos Martin.
CBR News spoke with Slott about his plans for this new era of Spidey's life, which has been dubbed “Big Time,” and was announced by Marvel last weekend at its Spider-Man panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
CBR: “Big Time” is this title of this new era of “Amazing Spider-Man.” Why choose that title? What exactly is it referring to?
DAN SLOTT: “Big Time” refers to more than “Amazing Spider-Man,” it also refers to other Spider-Projects: “Astonishing Spider-Man/Iron Man,” the new Norman Osborn mini, and the all-new “Spider-Girl!” With “Amazing,” “Big Time” takes on a lot of meanings. In this book, everything is bigger: bigger stakes for Peter Parker, bigger threats for Spider-Man, and a much bigger comic. We are expanding to 30 pages of material, twice a month! That can mean a full 30-page story! Other times, we’ll have an all-new eight-page feature starring Spider-Man-related characters reflecting what’s currently going on in the book, or teasing upcoming events.
I can say, right off the bat, readers will get a lot of extra pages with our launch! The first story is 39 pages of stunning Humberto Ramos art start to finish! On top of that, there’ll be an all-new eight-page story by the new Spider-Girl team! The next issue is a full 30 pages with Humberto. And I know Marcos's first two issues will be 30 pagers as well! These are big books!
It also sounds like Peter Parker is going to be making some big opportunities for himself?
There are so many changes in the first issue! It's the new team coming on board and saying, “This is where the Spider-Man universe is going now!” We've seen Peter Parker struggling with work. We’ve seen him unemployed. It's time for Pete to get a job. No-- scratch that! A career! A career that plays to his strengths as Peter Parker and takes full advantage of who he is. That right there is going to give us new supporting characters. That’s on top of the classic Spider-Man cast of Jonah, Robbie, Flash, MJ, and others.
We're also hearing that Peter will come under fire from one of his classic foes right as his new life is coming together. Is this a character that we saw in “The Gauntlet,” the series of interconnected “Amazing Spider-Man” storylines that updated and reintroduced some of Spidey's old foes? Or is this an older character that we haven't seen in awhile?
When “Big Time” kicks off and this new era of Spidey begins, you’ll see it all! Classic characters true to form and classic characters with new spins. Plus all-new characters posing new threats. There will be villains from the entire spectrum of Spidey's career! From every era! From our teaser images, you can see Mac Gargan’s back as the Scorpion! You're also going to see a new hero/vigilante with ties to Spider-Man’s past. There are all kinds of surprises when it comes to the good guys and bad guys in the Spider-verse.
From what we hear, Peter Parker has a new girlfriend in “Amazing” #648. Is this an established character or one that we'll be meeting for the first time?
She's an established character.
Let’s talk a little bit about your upcoming and long term plans for the book. Which of Spider-Man's foes do you find most interesting? Are there any rogues that you feel have a lot of untapped potential?
I hate saying this. I hate spoilers. But the teaser image is right here, so there’s no avoiding it. Okay Spidey-fans, you asked for it, you got it… HOBGOBLIN’S BACK! One of our most requested villains is returning to the book in a big way! And check out the new look by Humberto Ramos! Pretty sweet, right?
When the Hobgoblin first appeared, his identity was shrouded in mystery. Can we expect that same level of mystery when the character returns to the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man?”
That is the big question! Over the years you thought Hobgoblin was Ned Leeds or Jason Macendale. Later he was revealed as Roderick Kingsley, and sometimes his twin brother, Daniel. So you're probably wondering who's going to be under the Hobgoblin mask this time? Well the answer to that question is… I’m not telling. One of the fun things about the character was the mystery-- and I think we've got a fresh take on how to spin that on its head. So these are Hobgoblin stories in a way you haven't seen them told before.
Do you have big plans for any of the established supporting players?
I think you're going to see an interesting new role for Mary Jane. She's a pivotal part of Spider-Man's life and his world. They have shared so much of their lives together, so she has one up on everyone else in the supporting cast. She's the one person who knows he's Spider-Man. She's the one “normal” person in his life he can go to and talk to about Spider-problems. She's his red haired Pete Ross with boobs.
Mary Jane can also help Pete in other ways too. When Spidey stuff is happening, she's the one who knows where Peter Parker really is and what he's really up to. She is going to be a very important part of Peter Parker’s life.
How will your stories in “Amazing Spider-Man” be structured? Will they be similar to the “Brand New Day” era where different stories weaved in and out of the spotlight and eventually blew up in blockbuster-style arcs?
With only one writer (besides the fact that it’s me), you’re going to see a tighter structure. That’s the nature of the beast. And with the book coming out twice a month, things are going to happen fast!It’s non-stop! When you read issue #648, you'll see so many pieces set in motion. It’s like an “idea bomb” goes off! It’s the perfect spot to dive in—and to hold on! Both Peter Parker’s life and Spider-Man’s life are going to rocket forward!
In the second arc, something is going to happen that will give him a new purpose and a new outlook on being Spider-Man. That will change how he interacts with the world! Because of an event in that arc, there will be a change to Spider-Man’s roster of super-powers! And by the end of the third arc, Spider-Man will undergo a massive status quo change! This book’s hitting the “Big Time” -- and that means big things are happening!
What about types of stories? Will we see all sorts of styles in “Amazing Spider-Man,” or do you have a favorite kind of Spidey story that you're looking to tell?
We’re going everywhere Peter’s new career will lead him towards new kinds of stories. His affiliations with the Avengers and New Avengers and his ties with other Marvel characters, like the Fantastic Four, will branch him out into big, superhero-filled stories. And the changes that are happening to his supporting cast will lead him towards other kinds of personal stories as well. But you are going to see guest stars in our first three arcs. Because you're right, Spidey knows everybody. This book isn't just Spider-Man. It's Spider-Man firmly in the Marvel Universe.
When “Big Time” begins in November, “Amazing Spider-Man” will be your only book for Marvel, correct?
This is it. Steve Wacker told me he wants to release a picture of my fridge. When I get up in the morning and have some orange juice, I look at my fridge magnets, and they remind me what I’m supposed to be working on that day. Messages like, “Mighty Avengers Plot First” and “Amazing Spider-Man Script Next.” Now all the magnets are gone and there is just one message that stays there: “All Spider-Man! All the time!” That's my life All Spider-Man, all the time-- and that is awesome!
After being part of a creative team that completed over 100 issues of “Amazing Spider-Man” in less than three years, how does it feel to be given the chance to chronicle Spidey's adventures all on your own?
This is exciting for me because this is the first time ever that a company is letting me write one of their flagship titles by myself! I've never had the chance to do this! When I was on “She-Hulk,” the character could do something in “Avengers” -- like rip the Vision in half-- and my editor would say, “You’ll come up with something.” “GLA” was a reaction to “Avengers Disassembled.” “The Initiative” was dealing with the aftermath of “Civil War.” “Thing” followed the changes from J. Michael Straczynski’s “Fantastic Four” run. And “Mighty Avengers” was the third Avengers title.
”Amazing Spider-Man” is the first time someone’s said to me, as a writer, “Okay, here you go. You get to play with the franchise. Here’re the keys to the car.” So this is huge! It's the single most, coolest experience in my entire life!
Is it a little intimidating as well?
The intimidating thing is being the only writer. Working on “Amazing” with a team of writers was a wonderful experience, especially those guys. They’re some of the most talented and generous people I’ve ever met. And, selfishly, when you get to read scripts in their raw form, with all the revisions, and watch the entire process that Mark Waid, Joe Kelly, Fred Van Lente, Zeb Wells, Roger Stern, Bob Gale, and Marc Guggenheim go through, that’s like going back to school and studying the masters! What comic book fan — or writer — wouldn’t pay take a course like that? I’m still geeking out over that mind-blowing opportunity I had by being on that team!
Being a member of that team and writing by myself are two completely different animals. The team was a democracy. Sometimes the group-mind would shift one way, sometimes the other. We were always very supportive and giving, and it was rare that we’d shoot something down. It was a very good working atmosphere. I’m going to miss it. But I’m having a lot of fun with the crazy freedom that comes from flying solo.
That said, working in comics is never a one-man show. You are part of a creative team with your artists and your editor. Everybody has got a say. I’m so at home working with Steve Wacker, Tom Brennan, and our hardworking letterer Joe Caramagna. And I couldn’t ask for better art teams than Humberto Ramos, Marcos Martin, and Stefano Caselli!
You kick off a new arc with “Amazing Spider-Man” #648 with an artist you've never worked with before, Humberto Ramos. What's it like working with him?
He is becoming one of my favorite people in the universe. Every time a Humberto page comes in, I'm just, like, the happiest son of a you-know-what on the planet! As we're talking now, I'm looking at all of the first issue in front of me-- and it is gorgeous! I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I’ve lost just staring at these pages and sighing! I am giddy with the art from our first arc!
Marcos Martin illustrated several of your “Brand New Day” Spider-Man stories.
Marcos is the guy that I've said I've most wanted to chain in a basement and have him draw Spider-Man for me for the rest of his life, so I'm ecstatic! A lot of times it was said when we started this run that we’d have all-new art teams, and I’d be all, “I WANNA KEEP MARCOS!” And we kept Marcos! Yay! I love Marcos Martin!
“Amazing Spider-Man” also reunites you with another past collaborator, Stefano Caselli, who you worked with on “Avengers: The Initiative.”
There are few days where I'm truly angry working in comics. And one of them was when we lost Stefano on “The Initiative.” I was like, “Aw! No!” No offense to the guys who came on after, I didn’t know who they were going to be at that point. All I knew was that I was losing Stefano. And I was so pissed off because Stefano Caselli is fantastic! And look-- we’re back together! This is going to be great!
All I can say is, “Thank God for Skype!” Because I'm working with three guys, one in Mexico, one in Spain, and another in Italy. When it's time to plan out Spider-Man stuff, some of my days are spent clicking on Skype. I'll be talking to Marcos and—click-- there he is on my screen, like we’re on “The Jetsons.” And he’s holding up sketches to the camera and I'll be talking to him or acting out scenes. It's a kick!
It sounds like you're ready for a long, healthy run on the book?
Hell yeah! I'm entrenched. There are stories I've always wanted to tell with Spider-Man. Back in 2006, when we had our first ever Spider Summit, we were supposed to develop all these ideas we could throw out to the group. At one point I kind of scared people because I had this giant yellow legal pad that was just filled-to-bursting. So as we'd be telling all these stories, Joe Quesada got up, went to this big sheet of butcher paper with a marker, and he started writing down all the ideas we were pitching. He was very enthusiastic and really into it. Then he said, “Okay, let's work out the schedule for the first year. Who's going to take this story? Who's going to take that story?” We started reaching a point where someone would go for a story that I threw out-- and I’d be all, “Wait! I wanted to do that one. And that one! And that one over there! And that one too!” Then Joe stopped and smiled at me and said, “Dan, you can't write all of ‘em.” Well—NOW I CAN!