The foes of Marvel Comics' "Amazing Spider-Man" commit many different crimes, from robbery to murder and even random acts of terror. The Jackal, however, conducts science experiments. In his civilian guise as Professor Miles Warren, the Jackal became obsessed with Peter Parker's late girlfriend Gwen Stacy and swore an oath of vengeance against Spider-Man, who he blamed for Gwen's death. As the Jackal, Warren created of clones of himself, Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy, utilizing them attack Spidey both physically and psychologically. This vendetta is widely remembered by readers as the controversial "Clone Saga."
"The Clone Saga" made a big impression on Peter Parker's life, but it was primarily an intimate clash involving the Jackal, Spider-Man and a number of clones. Recently, the Jackal has returned with a plan to escalate his crusade against New York's favorite wall-crawler -- the mad genius plans to infect thousands of New York residents with powers similar to Spider-Man via the bites of genetically engineered insects.
In the "Infested" short stories currently running in "Amazing Spider-Man," writer Dan Slott and a host of artists are chronicling the results of the Jackal's plan as it unfolds. CBR News spoke with "Amazing Spider-Man" Editor Steve Wacker about the shorts, which set the stage for this summer's Spidey event storyline, "Spider-Island."
CBR News: Steve, perhaps the biggest revelation of "Infested" is that the Jackal has returned. Spidey readers really haven't seen Miles Warren since "The Clone Saga," so what made you guys want to bring him back? And when we see more of him, will the Jackal have received the "Gauntlet"-style treatment that Spidey's other classic rogues recently got in terms of powers and motivation?
Steve Wacker: The goal with any classic Spidey villain we bring back is to make them relevant in the here and now, so in that sense, he is getting the "Gauntlet" treatment.
To be honest, I didn't personally have a ton of affinity for the Jackal as I didn't read those Clone stories when they were coming out. Plus, I freely admit that everyone on Earth knows more about Miles Warren than I do. But as Dan started weaving his story together, I've slowly grown to see the potential within.
So if you've never heard of the Jackal before, not to worry. You're in good (though clammy) hands.
There have been two "Infested" shorts so far ,and they almost feel like classic EC Comics-style stories with the Jackal playing the role of horror host. Is that the feel you and Dan we're aiming for? And will the remaining shorts continue to have that tone or can we expect some twists?
This was all Slott's twisted brain at work. Slowly, he's introducing the concept of the "Infestation" spreading throughout the city and showing the readers how it affects the lives of regular people. The effect is a series of small clues that no one realizes are part of a greater mystery.
In "Infested: Stage Two" in "Amazing Spider-Man" #660, we basically saw what might have happened if Flash Thompson received spider powers instead of Peter Parker. Will we see more of school yard bully Richard Davies in "Spider-Island?" Or was his story meant more to convey a particular "What If?" type of twist to Spidey's origin?
You'll definitely see more of the people we introduced in the "Infested" shorts. There are definitely a lot of stories to tell, with New Yorkers of all stripes getting Spider-Powers. Soon, many of you will be able to say, "I Am Spider-Man."
Readers are being treated to different artists for each "Infested" short. Who are some of the people you've tapped for the remaining tales and what can readers expect from their visuals?
So far we've had the extremely talented Barry Kitson, Emma Rios and Lee Garbett. You also get to see the amazing art of Max Fiumara and Giuseppe Camuncoli. I could not be luckier as an editor to be surrounded by talent like this. They make everything look better.
Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share about "Infested?"
Just that for now, everything is exactly as it seems. This Infestation is spreading throughout New York and it could affect anyone big or small; young or old; weak or strong. But if so much power lands in the hands of people with no responsibility -- it might make them the most amazing, most spectacular and most dangerous people on Earth!