New York City is home to many of Marvel Comics' super heroes, each of them with their own way of navigating the city. Some walk, some prowl the rooftops, and a few even fly, but none of them have as breathtaking a means of travel as the "Amazing Spider-Man." Spidey web swinging across the city or climbing the side of a building is a sight that will make even the most jaded New Yorker look up with a sense of wonder.
On March 21st, citizens the world over will share that sense of awe as writer Dan Slott and artist Stefano Caselli kick off "Ends of the Earth," a six-part arc that begins in "Amazing Spider-Man #682 and sends Spidey on a global quest to foil the final plan of his arch-enemy, Doctor Octopus. CBR News spoke with Slott about the story line.
CBR News: Dan, you've been setting the stage for "Ends of the Earth" for awhile now. How long have you the idea for this story?
Dan Slott: You can see the seeds for it starting in "Amazing" #648 where the opening scene has Doc Ock's Octo-Bots stomping across Manhattan. If you want to get technical though, it's really been a story that's been building since "Amazing Spider-Man" #600 when we found out that Doc Ock was dying and he tried to do something that in his own mind was a noble legacy to leave behind for the people of New York. When Spider-Man, the Human Torch, and other heroes stopped him, we heard him make a vow that if he couldn't do something great he would do something great and terrible. Cue Ominous Super Villain music.
It sounds as if "Ends of the Earth" as much a Doctor Octopus story as it is a Spider-Man story. Which aspects of Otto Octavius do you find most interesting?
Otto is a twisted version of Peter Parker when you think about it. When you look at the first ever Spider-Man story in "Amazing Fantasy" #15 you have that moment where Peter says, "I'll make them regret they ever laughed at me! I'll show them all some day!" So he's all pissy when he heads off to the science experiment where he gets bit by that spider. We have this feeling that if not for Aunt May and Uncle Ben and the lessons he learned about power and responsibility, Peter Parker could have become a villain. Forget super hero! He could have gone down a completely different path.
So Otto Octavius is that same bespectacled nerd who grows up and goes onto a career in science. He knows people are snarky about him behind his back, but his take is, "Let them laugh. My great achievements will shut them up." It isn't until his accident where he gets the arms attached to him where he's like, "I will show them all!" He's what Peter Parker could have become if history unfolded differently.
Norman Osborn used to be Spider-Man's arch enemy before he became concerned with larger threats like the Avengers. Has Doc Ock stepped into that role now that Norman has set his sights on the Avengers?
Ever since Warren Ellis showed us his take in "Thunderbolts," and Brian Bendis catapulted that even further in the "Avengers" titles, Norman has really stepped up and become a villain for the whole Marvel Universe. It's left a hole in Peter's personal rogue's gallery. We were interested in bringing him back into Spider-Man's world With the "Osborn" miniseries that Kelly Sue DeConnick did and the Goblin cult that we were building up, but the lure was too great and Brian had one last great Norman story to tell. Will he be around after that? We'll have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, over in the Spidey-verse, Doc Ock has stepped up and has become a major threat in own right, especially with this arc! What we've seen of Otto since #600 has almost been a bucket list of him taking out Marvel's biggest brains. We saw him totally put Tony Stark in his place over in "Invincible Iron Man," and we saw him one up Hank Pym and his group over in "Avengers Academy." Then when Spidey joined the FF, Otto completely out thought Reed Richards. He sent the FF on a wild goose chase and then ransacked the Baxter Building. And recently he totally punked the Intelligencia, the smartest super villains in the Marvel Universe. He's on a victory tour and all of that has been setting the stage for Doc Ock taking over the world.
Helping Doc in his bid for world Domination are his old allies, the Sinister Six. They too have been stepping up their game over the past several months. How would you describe the dynamic between these guys?
They are a well oiled machine that has efficiently taken down many different high profile threats. We've never seen them operate on this level before. I don't want to give anything away, but you're going to see some stuff in "Ends of the Earth" that will make you stop and say, "These guys know what they're doing."
Doc Ock and the Sinister Six's mysterious plan for world domination means "Ends of the Earth" is a story with a huge scope and scale like last year's big Spider-Man epic, "Spider-Island." Unlike that story, the focus of "Ends of the Earth" is global instead of limited to the city of Manhattan. What are some of the locales Spidey will visit in "Ends?" What's it like writing the character outside of his usual New York City stomping grounds?
This is a high adventure story that unfolds all over the world. When you describe Spider-Man two of the words that keep popping up are New York. He's so much a "New York super hero." This is taking him out of that comfort zone and putting him everywhere around the world. There's something fun about that.
When we did the recent two-part Spider-Man in space story, people were like, "Spider-Man in space?" It doesn't really matter though because you could put Spider-Man in France and it would be just as weird for him. [Laughs] Because he's that boy from Forest Hills, Queens. So it's very strange for him to be in all these different places and to be doing all these different things.
It must be pretty strange for the citizens of these different cities to see Spidey swinging through their towns. Will we get to see some of their reactions to Spider-Man?
It would be fun to play with different reactions to Spider-Man, but there's not going to be time for people to catch their breath. This isn't going to be business as usual. People are going to be far more worried about what Doc Ock is doing than what Spidey is doing. This is really a global threat by Otto Octavius that Spider-Man must rise to answer. So people's focus won't be on Spider-Man. It's on Doc Ock!
Will Spidey have allies in global battle against Doc Ock? Who are some of the supporting players in "Ends of the Earth?"
You'll see some other super heroes like Black Widow and Silver Sable who both play significant roles, but it's so hard to talk about this stuff ahead of times without spoiling what's coming up.
We recently saw Silver Sable appear in Spider-Man and there [were] some strange developments on that front that got a lot of Spidey fans going, "Wait? What?" So it will be fun to play off that. There's also a certain movie coming out in May. Some small, art house film which will feature a character called Black Widow. [Laughs] So it will be fun to see her mix it up with Marvel's other small, art house film character from this summer.
So the major supporting characters in "Ends of the Earth" will be costumed characters? Will there be time and room for the soap opera elements associated with Spidey's friends and family?
There are certain developments happening with our supporting cast, but when it comes to Spider-Man, he is focused on one thing and one thing only; dealing with this problem. He doesn't have time to worry about running late for this date or, "What's going on with my office soap operas too?" [Laughs] This is a major threat and it's going to require Spider-Man's full attention. That doesn't mean, though, that things aren't happening back in Manhattan.
Will "Ends of the Earth" have side stories and tie-in adventures like "Spider-Island?"
No. This is a lean machine. If you want to follow "Ends of the Earth" you're getting six issues of "Amazing," [and] a done-in-one side adventure that will be written by Brian Clevinger and Rob Williams. That adventure will show us what other international heroes are doing during "Ends of the Earth" and it will also feature appearances by both Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus.
And then there is some "Ends of the Earth" fall out that occurs in "Avenging Spider-Man" #8. I'll be writing the bookend sequences of that issue, which deals with what happens directly after "EOTE." And it's pretty important. Then the guts of that story will be written by Ty Templeton.
In Ye Olden Days when we did "Spider-Island" you were looking at eight issues of "Amazing," and multiple series tie-ins like "Venom," "Heroes for Hire," "Black Panther," and "Hercules." Plus we had a couple of minis and one-shots. With "Ends of the Earth" it's just six issues of "Amazing," a one-shot, and one issue of "Avenging Spider-Man," but you're not going to be missing out if you just read the six issues of "Amazing."
We've talked quite a bit about story. Let's wrap things up by talking about the visuals of "Ends of the Earth." Stefano Caselli is doing the bulk of the art for this tale. What can people expect from him? And who's assisting him on this arc?
Stefano is doing the first two and the last two issues of "Ends of the Earth." I don't want to spoil anything about the set up, but expect some big throwdowns and all out action. Stefano brings all of this raw force and pure dynamism to the mix. When you see the way he's choreographed these massive fight sequences and big blockbuster set pieces you'll be like, "Wow! That's intense!"
Humberto Ramos is drawing the two middle issues. One of which will focus on Sandman, and it's Sandman at the peak of his power. We've never seen him operate like this. The focus of the other issue is a secret though. So shhh!
"Ends of the Earth" kicks off in "Amazing Spider-Man" #682 on sale March 21.