Marvel held its latest "Marvel Universe: The Next Big Thing" conference call Monday afternoon, focusing on the first post-"Brand New Day" arc of "Amazing Spider-Man," "Big Time." On the call were writer Dan Slott, editor Stephen Wacker, and Marvel's Junior Sales Administrator James Viscardi, who is moderating the discussion.
"With the end of the current writers' run on 'Amazing Spider-Man,' we're wrapping up 102 issues of story," Wacker said, referring to "Brand New Day," and said that now it's time to discover what happens to Peter Parker next. "Dan was just bursting with ideas," Wacker added, saying that now he will have a chance to use these ideas.
"Big Time is about big changes for Peter Parker in his life," Slott said. He added that "everything gets bigger," including page count, now 30 pages per biweekly issue. Some issues will devote all pages to a lead story while some will have backups, but any backups will be set in current continuity.
Peter Parker will get a new career, Slott added—"not a job, a career," which is new for him. "One of the things we've seen about Peter since the moment he got his spider-powers is that he's always been struggling paycheck to paycheck," Slott noted, but asked readers to recall that Peter Parker is an intelligent guy, not unlike Tony Stark and Reed Richards. "This is a guy who, in high school, invented the world's strongest epoxy and a means to project it."
The next arc will begin returning some major villains, including Mac Gargan as the Scorpion, but also return newer characters like Mr. Negative.
"With the first issue of 'Big Time,' 648, you're going to see some classic characters moving forward in new ways—and for some, that may mean leaving the book," Slott said.
"We'll have a whole new cast of characters to choose from with Peter's new career," Wacker said, but said that existing supporting characters will remain, some in new roles.
Slott said it was "great" to work with other Marvel Universe characters like the Fantastic Four and Avengers, which appear in the first several issues of the new arc. "Within our first few arcs you're going to meet a new hero, who will debut in 'Amazing Spider-Man,' Slott said." Wacker added that Spider-Man is "the average man's eyes and ears" on teams like the Avengers. "He's a guy who's doing the best he can, but he's surrounded by the world's greatest soldier and a god of thunder." Wacker added that this makes 'ASM' "one stop shopping. If you can only buy one book, get 'Amazing Spider-Man' and he'll show you the Marvel Universe."
Slott said that Spider-Man's supporting cast has always been "very glamorous, like they could have walked out of 'Friends.'" Artist Humberto Ramos's newly designed characters, though, "look like people you know."
"With Hobgoblin, we really want to do something that sets him apart from Green Goblin," Slott said of the first arc's villain. "You look at him and he'll have this Medieval feel, like a gargoyle." Slott noted that, in past, the Hobgoblin's appeal has been in the mystery, but in the new arc "there will not be a long, drawn out mystery—we're going to show you exactly who's behind the mask." There was also some banter about the pronunciation of former Hobgoblin "Macendale," which Slott pronounced "Mack-n-dale," to everyone's puzzlement. ("Mace-n-dale" was preferred.)
Slott said that readers will know who Peter's new girlfriend is before the new arc starts. "We're going to see something we haven't seen in a long time, since we're used to having him in a long term relationship with Mary Jane." He added that Mary Jane will remain part of the cast, and it will be interesting to see how she fits in.
"I'm always going to miss being part of the 'Brand New Day' team," Slott said when asked about the collaborative process. "It's also like going back to school—'oh wow, look how Fred Van Lente structured this.' I'll miss that."
Slott did say, though, that as characters reveal themselves through the writing process, some of his own ideas had to be sidelined while he waited his turn. "Even though I'm the only writer now, it's still a huge collaborative process," Slott said, name-checking Ramos, his editors, and the rest of the team.
"I'm going to miss the other web-heads, because they were much better at catching errors in the story than I am," Wacker said.
Slott said that Spider-Girl (formerly Araña) will appear in #648 and that the new hero mentioned earlier will be female, but Wacker said that Spider-Girl's main home will be in her own series.
Peter's new job will invoke his science knowledge, and "a character close to Pete who has a science background that people forget about" will play a role. Slott also noted that Peter will be giving his science knowledge to Spider-Man, as well, possibly updating his arsenal.
There will be at least one new costume making use of Peter's inventions, Wacker said. "This isn't like Spider-Man showing up to Mary Jane's fashion show and saying, 'make me a suit.'"
"The difference is in Peter's life direction," Slott said of the difference between "Brand New Day" and "Big Time" from Peter's perspective, especially in the choices he makes. Wacker joked, "Also, now he only has one voice in his ear instead of five."
"There will be a change to the roster of spider-powers" during the first arc, Slott said, but no "spider-cave" as yet, in response to a question.
Issue #648 will be 39 pages of lead story plus an 8-page backup, Viscardi said by way of wrapping up the call.