Otto Octavius may be in the pilot's seat still in the pages of Marvel Comics "Superior Spider-Man" series, but one of the many questions hanging over the Saturday panel for the comic at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (AKA C2E2) was "For how long?"
The slightly sinister web-slinger got a spotlight thanks to moderator and Marvel Communications Director Arune Singh, "Daredevil" creative team Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, "Venom" artist Declan Shalvey, Editors Ellie Pyle and Tom Brevoort, "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" writer Nick Spencer, "Alpha" writer Josh Fialkov and the "Superior Spider-Man" artist himself Ryan Stegman.
The proceedings started with Stegman talking about the transition from "Amazing Spider-Man" #700 – which Marvel has sent back for a fourth printing – to "Superior Spider-Man" featuring Doc Ock's mind in Peter Parker's body. "I've gone from getting one interview [on a book] from a random blogger on the internet to tons of reviews everywhere of this," he said. "Dan has more changes planned," added Pyle. "Next week's issue is going to be really big."
Marvel will be promoting the book with a Superior Spider-Month in July bringing a new costume to the character in issue #14 of the regular series written by regular writer Dan Slott and drawn by artist Humberto Ramos. That story will deal with the fallout from Marvel's "Shadowland" event.
The panel then confirmed that Miguel O’Hara, AKA Spider-Man 2099 will appear in September's Superior Spider-Man #17, teased earlier in the weekend. "There's something we've seeded in the pages all they way back to the 'Big Time' run in 'Amazing Spider-Man,'" the writer said, noting that O'Hara's appearance will have an impact across the Marvel Universe. The writer also said that Venom will be returning to the main book down the line.
Olivier Copel will draw the first 2099 cover, and Stegman said, "That costume is awesome. We didn't tweak it at all. We didn't have to do anything to it because it's pretty perfect."
Humberto Ramos then joined the panel to talk about his work on the book. "I like when people hate me," he joked. "I like all the controversy that the book built up before it came out and after it came out...it's pretty cool. I've had a lot of feedback from people now that I'm doing a lot of shows this year...honestly, before #700 came out, I was telling people 'You're going to blame us and curse our mothers,' but now it's a great thing to know that people actually like it."
The "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" title on the way from Spencer and Steve Lieber was up next on the docket, and the writer said, "This book is about the jerks. This book is about the losers. This is about the people Spider-Man is usually beating up in the first three pages of any given Spider-Man story...this is how they make their living." He said the book is a successor to the old school series "The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man" but will dig deep into the villain bench. "It's a character-driven piece that I think will make you laugh and show you what these guys' lives are like."
Shalvey spoke about his work on "Venom" with writer Cullen Bunn, saying, "'Venom's' been great. I essentially get to do Dark Spider-Man...Cullen's written this great story where Flash [Thompson] in a lot of ways is an outsider. I find him really, really compelling. All the old school Venom fans really, really want Eddie [Brock], and Eddie's coming back."
Fialkov talked about making the teen sidekick Alpha more likable, saying that when you're 16 you're always full of yourself whether you have godlike powers or not. The series shows Alpha's second attempt at superheroing. "It does not go well. As you see in issue #4 he has someone else with godlike power step in to try and give him some advice," the writer explained.
Waid spoke to his artists help making "Daredevil" a success, saying that lately with Samnee he's been working to make a big battle to knock the hero down a few pegs while his friend struggles with a cancer diagnosis. "What you do is make people like Matt, make people like Foggy and make people care about their relationship," the writer added. The artist said of the collaboration, "The scripts are never set in stone...we create characters together. Ikari we made up whole cloth as a ninja Daredevil." Waid said good books in comics are never a matter of a writer writing a script and then handing it off to be drawn. The give and take between collaborators is essential in his opinion to making a book work.
Fan questions opened up, and the first fan wondered if the death of Ultimate Peter Parker led to the death of regular Spider-Man on its way to "Superior," but Pyle said that was not the case. "If you look at it closely, the story of the brain swap is something Dan had in his plans going back to 'Amazing Spider-Man' #600."
Wondering if the change of the "Avenging Spider-Man" title meant that Spider-Man would no longer be an Avenger, the panel seemed impress the panelists with its foresight. "I think the first team-ups you'll be saying will not include Avengers, so you can take that for what you will," Pyle said.
The panel didn't think a "Superior" brain swap was likely in a Spider-Man film, though it was possible if Sony chose to make such a movie. But Fialkov argued that comics had a unique ability to play with expectations due to the depth of history and the serialized format.
The Sinister Six is set to return at some point in the future despite their being captured in jars at the bottom of the ocean. The story will likely resolve in the pages of "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up."
Brevoort said there would be a follow-up to Brian Bendis' "Spider-Men" book, but he would not say when it would appear or if it would involve the Doc Ock Spider-Man.
A fan asked if villains Screwball and Jester would make it into "Daredevil," and Waid said the former was a fun idea while the latter is already in the works as drawn by Samnee.
Spencer promised that "Superior Foes" will involve more villains than are seen on the cover to issue #1, however those villains will be the core cast. He also said perpetual punchline villain the Living Brain will show up in issue #2.
Madame Web is currently comatose because her inclusion in the book would definitely poke holes to Doc Ock's plans as Spider-Man, but Slott has plans for the character eventually.
Asked about a possible Bullseye appearance in the future of "Daredevil," Waid said, "When was the last time we saw Bullseye? Oh yeah...he's busy being dead."
The idea that Peter Parker's personality saying alive in his body even as Doc Ock took it over was brought up with a fan saying he thought that reveal came too soon. Pyle said, "The question is if Peter is going to stay around now that Doc Ok knows he's there? And the answer to that is 'Read Superior Spider-Man' next week."
Dan Slott was then brought in on the phone to join in on the discussion, though the next question was about Hobgoblin, and they revealed that in issues #14 through 16 Ramos would be drawing the character again.
Peter Parker's sometimes girlfriend Carly and her reluctance to speak out about her perceiving a change in the character since Doc Ock took over his mind came up, and the panel agreed that she wouldn't do anything if she thought it would put her in danger, nor would she do anything unless she had solid proof.
Spidey all-star villain The Green Goblin came up, and Slott said it was very interesting that the current Goblin had not been unmasked yet.
Asked if he had any favorite Spider-Man costumes that came to mind when he designed the new Shadowland uniform, he cited the unused Alex Ross movie design for the character.
A fan asked if the Big Time arc "Doorway to Tomorrow" would play into the appearance of Spider-Man 2099. "We do know that at Horizon Labs, there is time travel technology because of that story," Slott said.
A reader suggested that maybe Peter Parker could put his brain into Madame Web's body, to which Waid announced, "You sir have just won a one-minute phone conversation with Dan Slott." The fan then pitched his idea to the writer directly, though his reception to the idea wasn't aired.
The possibility of another Daredevil/Spider-Man crossover was broached as was a Superior/Scarlet Spider one. Both ideas approved tentative "yeses."