Marvel's latest "Next Big Thing" press conference call took place Thursday afternoon, with writer Paul Tobin, editor Tom Brennan, and moderator James Viscardi, Marvel's Junior Sales Administrator, discussing Anya Corazon's transition from Araña to Spider-Girl and what that means to a certain other Web-slinger.
“The original editor for it was Nate Cosby and we're always looking for projects,” Tobin said, adding that he liked working on younger heroes.
Tobin said that Araña taking on the “Spider-Girl” name is a big change, something that will be dealt with in part in the "Amazing Spider-Man" #648 backups before the new series begins. “At the same time, I think being part of the spider-family is very important to her,” due to how much she admires Spider-Man, Tobin added.
Tobin and ASM writer Dan Slott have spoken about upcoming storylines in the “Big Time” mega-arc, Tobin said, though the connections would not always be direct.
"You don't need to have much former knowledge of Araña," Tobin said, "because she's already changed so much in becoming Spider-Girl." Much of her powers have also changed, the writer added.
Brennan said that "you'll see a lot of Spider-villains coming soon. Right off the bat she's going to be taking on Screwball, who made quite a lot of noise for Spider-Man in the last two years." She will also be taking on the Red Hulk. "That's quite a challenge," the editor said. And, right after that, “Don't be surprised if there's a hunt on.”
Tobin was then asked how Spider-Girl fits in with the New York superhero community. "I think she's still trying to find her place," Tobin said, and other interactions would be specific to storylines. "She will be establishing a connection with Susan Richards," he added. "I don't see peer pressure playing in to what she thinks she needs to do as a super hero." Brennan added that, even as heroes like Wolverine are travelling through time, Spider-Girl will be more of a street-level hero.
Asked about other characters, "her friendship with Rickey Barnes [Nomad] is very important to her," Tobin said.
Asked whether some new-reader accessibility of his "Marvel Adventures" books would be lost by necessity in a shared universe book, Tobin said, "I don't think it needs to be lost at all." He added that the most important thing was to have the heroes remain human. He likes "grim heroes and grim stories, but even in the midst of being grim they have to be human." When he owned a comic shop, Tobin said, "my main complaint was that they were unrelentingly grim." Running opposite to grimness, though, Brennan described Tobin's stories, though, as being the sort of fun that got him into comics, adding that he sees each issue as being new reader accessible.
Tobin then discussed Spider-Girl's life outside the costume. "It has a great deal to do with how the story goes forward—and that's why I can't tell you too much about it," Tobin said. Anya and her father will be moving into a new apartment, but she will not be changing schools.
Asked about the possibility of the series bringing in new female readers, Tobin described the new series as a "mix between action and drama," which should appeal to both genders. "I think we're seeing that as a change. I like to see female creators, actually, because I think that brings a different element."
Tobin said the new Spider-Girl should not be seen as "a slap in the face" to the previous version. "I don't want to disrespect those fans, because I am one of those fans," he said of the previous series' devoted followers.
"We are building up an arch-nemesis for her," Tobin said when asked about Spider-Girl-specific villains, but said that he can't say much about it now. "As to the original Araña villains, they're a part of her life and they might show up at some point, but right now we're trying to shoot an arrow forward." Brennan added that "these heroes fight evil in any form," noting that the X-Men can fight the Sinister Six.
Tobin said that he had been thinking about Anya's relationship with Spider-Man, and "I think she admires the man beneath the costume—as a superhero herself, she's starting to realize what the lifestyle means, what the sacrifice means." She has already started to mature since her Araña days, and the admiration "guides a lot of her actions as a superhero." Brennan said that the big brother/little sister analogy is appropriate. "She's running around with a spider on her, he's going to feel responsible," but "he sees she is a hero."
"She definitely needs to grow up on her own, and Spider-Man knows that," Tobin said.
"Amazing Spider-Man" #648 and "Spider-Girl" #1 are on sale November 10.