[SPOILER WARNING: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR "AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #667, IN STORES NOW]
Part of the appeal of Marvel Comics' characters is they seem like real people. They battle powerful villains and tackle cosmic crises, but they also have to wrestle with some very human concerns. The heroic adventures of characters like Spider-Man are often complicated by problems in his personal life such as paying the rent, caring for a sick loved one and finding time for his friends and significant others.
Spidey has been dealing with those complications for much of his 60 year history and because of that he's viewed as the premier everyman character in superhero comics, but what would happen if everyone in New York was like Spider-Man? That's the central question of the "Spider-Island" event currently running through the pages of "Amazing Spider-Man" and several tie-in titles. "Spider-Island" kicked off with a prelude in "Amazing Spider-Man" #666 by writer Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos that saw the villainous Jackal's scheme to infect thousands of New Yorkers with spider powers come to fruition.
In "Amazing Spider-Man" #667, the first part of "Spider-Island," Slott and Ramos showed us what the criminal element of New York would do with their new spider powers as the Jackal organized an army of spider-powered criminals, dressed them in Spidey's various costumes, and unleashed them on New York City. In today's edition of SPIDER-ISLAND HOPPING, our look at each issue of the main storyline, editor Steve Wacker joins CBR News to discuss the ins and outs of "Amazing" #667.
CBR News: So Steve, In "Amazing Spider-Man" #667 there is a huge battle between the Jackal's army of Spider-Man impersonators and the heroes defending New York City. We also get some scenes on the George Washington Bridge. New York was always meant to be a supporting character in Spidey's life, but since you took over editing the book it feels like the city has become an extra important player in "Amazing Spider-Man" and all the books you edit. As an editor, how important is it to you that the New York in your books seem authentic?
Steve Wacker: My office seems to have the bulk of its books set in the city and it has been an important element to me since I took over editing Spidey a few years back. I learned everything about the city from reading Marvel comics as kid out west and the memory of those Spidey, Daredevil and Fantastic Four comics are one of the myriad things which drove me to move here.
To me the New York-based comics have always been part travelogue and they're one of the best calling cards the city has. (A couple years back "Time Out New York" Magazine even named Spidey one of the top New Yorkers!) We've had a lot of fun in the past few years getting Spidey out of the same two or three subway stops he seemed to congregate around for a while and explored different areas like Governor's Island, the Cloisters, and even the High Line.
While making the city a character is nothing new in the book, my hope is we're doing the city proud. It's a great playground for super hero action.
The city also served as a backdrop for some personal and dramatic interactions in "Amazing" #667 as well. While they're in a cab stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge, Peter Parker and his girlfriend, police scientist Carlie Cooper, hear about the mayhem being caused by the Jackal's Spider-Imposters. Carlie then decides to rush off and use her newfound spider powers to defend the city. In a recent arc of "Amazing," Carlie seemed to take a hard line against Police Captain Yuri Watanabe's exploits as the costumed vigilante known as the Wraith, but when she gets super abilities of her own she's ready to rush out and use them. How are these two situations different in Carlie's mind ?
The way I read what Slott had done was, at the end of the Wraith story, Carlie unexpectedly refuses to turn Captain Watanabe in for her vigilante actions. That leads directly to her decision in #667 to help out. There's a lot more to play out in this story though in terms of Carlie -- and we're bound to get some strong reaction from Spidey readers about it.
On the penultimate page of #667 Shang-Chi enters the battle between the heroes of New York and the Spider-Imposters. The Master of Kung-Fu has been a big part of the lead up to "Spider-Island" and now that it's here he's a player in "Amazing Spider-Man" and even has his own tie-in series, "Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu." It seems the Spider-Office is particularly enthusiastic about the character. If fan response is equally enthusiastic would you like to do more with Shang-Chi in another miniseries or perhaps even an ongoing?
Hell, yes. I am a GIANT Shang Chi fan and have long been surprised Marvel wasn't doing more with the character for so many years. After Brubaker and Deodato's outstanding Shang Chi-centric "Secret Avengers" story last year and now the new mini, my hope is we'll see readers beg for more. I know series writer Antony Johnston has a ton of ideas for the character. He won't stop telling me!
"Amazing Spider-Man" #667 is in stores now. Any final thoughts on it?
Just that Humberto Ramos is a god among men. He is an artist's artist who finds ways to draw things that I can't even imagine. And what I think has been surprising to a lot of people new to his art is that while he has a very open style to his work, each panel is chock-filled with detail. Dan asks for a ton in his plots, but then Ramos comes along and adds even more each and every time.
In what is really a new Golden Age of comic book art, Humberto Ramos is one of the giants.
(That said, he's horrible to work with and all other editors should stay away. I'll deal with him myself, so don't you people worry your pretty little heads about it!)
Finally, can you hint or tease what readers can expect from "Amazing Spider-Man" #668, available in stores and online August 31st?
Here's some hints!
- Norah jonesing
- Live from New York... it's Peter Parker!
- A match made in webbin'
- "...he's like Albert Einstein and Indiana Jones all rolled into one."
- A weapons warehouse you never knew existed!