[SPOILER WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR "AMAZING SPIDER-MAN" #670, in stores and available digitally now.]
Spider-Man is the premier New York City hero In the Marvel Universe, but he's not the only hero to call the city home. Spidey's teammates on the Avengers and the Future Foundation as well as countless solo heroes such as Venom, Spider-Girl, Shang-Chi, Cloak and Dagger also live in New York. So it would take a crisis of epic proportions to get all those characters involved in a situation.
Such a crisis is currently unfolding in the "Spider-Island" storyline running through "Amazing Spider-Man" by writer Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos as well as several other tie-in books. The crisis Manhattan is caught up in is a plague that endowed most of its non-powered citizens with spider powers and then transformed them into giant, monstrous spiders. Spider-Man and almost all of Manhattan's heroes have been doing their best to combat the plague, but the plague's creators -- The Jackal and the mysterious villainess known as the Queen -- have remained two steps ahead of them.
In today's installment of SPIDER-ISLAND HOPPING, our in-depth look at each issue of the main crossover, we examine part four of the storyline, "Amazing Spider-Man" #670. Joining us for a chat about the issue is the man who brought it to life, penciler Humberto Ramos
CBR News: Humberto, last issue the Queen, a character you co-created, was revealed as the mastermind behind the spider powers plague, and in "Amazing Spider-Man" #670 we got to see a lot more of her. How did it feel to bring her back? How did you react when Dan told you that he was bringing her back for "Spider-Island?"
Humberto Ramos: Writer Paul Jenkins and I created the Queen during our run on "Spectacular Spider-Man." After that initial storyline she appeared in I thought she was gone for good. The great thing about comics books is you can always bring people back. So it was a thrill to bring her back and it was very cool that they asked me to revamp her image. I like doing that kind thing and I hope people like her new look.
Let's talk about your redesign of the Queen. She originally wore a black evening dress and it looks like for her new outfit you wanted her to look more regal and more like a super villainess?
This storyline asks for a more physical presence from her, so I thought it would be nice to put her in something you'd see in a super hero universe. I like drawing characters in that environment. I know it might not be the best choice in the real world, but we're creating these images and universes where people fly and have super powers. So for me it was fun to portray that environment in the way the Queen looks right now.
"Amazing Spider-Man" #670 is part four of "Spider-Island," so the Queen's plan has moved into high gear. New York has been overrun by monstrous spiders under her control and an army of heroes are trying to stop the Queen and her arachnid followers. What's it like drawing such a jam-packed issue?
[Laughs] I have to pay my respects to George Perez because it's damn hard to draw that many characters in almost every panel of almost every page. I want the characters to all be recognizable. Even if they're just in the background I want them to look nice and cool because I know there are people reading to see their favorite character, and if that character is in the shot, they want him or her to look cool. That's a pretty difficult thing to do. I want to create this feeling that all the characters in the issue doing something interesting.
Also, it's pretty cool to draw characters from all across the Marvel Universe because I love most of them. It's not that often that you get a chance to get your hands on so many great characters. So to me it's always a thrill, but like I said, it's also a responsibility. I know when you have an issue jammed with characters more books will be involved and fans from other books will be looking at your book because they want to see what's happening to their favorite character in this particular story.
Speaking of other books, "Amazing" #670 linked up pretty well with "Venom" #7 by writer Rick Remender and artist Tom Fowler. In both issues there's a scene where Reed Richards greets a webbed up Anti-Venom and they were almost identical. Are you reading the other "Spider-Island" tie-ins so you can create sequences like that?
I'm close to the story line as Dan [Slott] created it. We talked a lot and he explained to me everything that's going to happen with the characters involved in the main story line. You've got to believe me though that doing "Spider-Island" and trying to keep deadlines is really, really hard. There really isn't time to do anything else but draw.
You had a chance to draw many cool and interesting characters in "Amazing" #670. Since we mentioned Venom and Anti-Venom, let's talk about them. Both characters were involved in some key scenes in this issue. What was it like drawing them?
I think Venom is one of the most delightful characters to draw. He's one of the more popular members of Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery, and I grew up reading Spider-Man books. I have this personal affinity for characters that are part of Peter Parker's universe and I try to pay respect to every character that I draw. I want to make the character look as good as I can. And of course you have to keep up with the characters' current looks. I know that right now Venom looks more like a commando version of Spider-Man. I find this new look really cool. I like it a lot.
Anti-Venom is similar. He's a very visual, creepy, and cool character. It was fun drawing him even if it was just for a couple of pages.
Venom and Anti-Venom were just a small sample of the costumed characters you drew in "Amazing" #670. You were also busy drawing a large number of Spidey's civilian supporting cast. The civilian who had the most prominent role in the issue was J. Jonah Jameson and you got to draw him in some intense physical and emotional situations. What was it like putting New York's Mayor through the ringer like that?
He's another big, iconic character. I'm not sure if this is the first time this is happened, but there's a scene in this issue where he has to join forces with Spider-Man and fight alongside him with his spider powers and that was really cool. It was interesting in that here is this guy who hates the super hero image having this thrilling adventure. He has to to save the day with the guy he really hates and he has to do it using spider powers. Drawing all that and delivering it to editorial so I can see their reactions is very exciting.
Mary Jane Watson wasn't in the issue as much as Jonah, but she did have a very pivotal scene where she jumped to the wall and clung to it like Spider-Man. We know that Mary Jane isn't affected with the spider powers virus, but in that scene she displays powers like Spider-Man. Can you comment at all on what's going on in that sequence?
I can't say much except that Mary Jane is a strong character and the usual thing about her is to expect the unusual. She's always doing the thing we least expect a girl in her situation to do. She's got a strong will and now that she has spider powers you're going to see her get involved in a lot of the action. It's going to be a pretty interesting couple of issues with her.
Since we're on the topic of upcoming issues, let's close things up by talking about "Amazing Spider-Man" #671, in comic stores and available digitally October 12. Can you offer up any hints or teases about the issue?
The story is getting bigger and bigger and of course we're moving towards an epic finale. I can't help bu thank the people that have been following the story along with us. We won't let you down. Dan is doing amazing work. His writing is brilliant and fun to read. He is all about Spider-Man and the commitment he has for this character is something I haven't really seen before.
We're going to have more characters, bigger fight scenes, and more double page spreads. I know people like them. They'll also be a couple surprises that make people gasp. I wish I could say more about the surprise in #671 -- it's really big.