Spider-Man's activities as a solo New York City-based crime fighter, member of the Avengers, and former member of the Future Foundation has made him one of the most connected heroes in the Marvel Universe, and that didn't change when the consciousness of his old foe Doctor Octopus (AKA Otto Octavius) took command of his body. What did change was the established dynamics between Spidey and many of his fellow heroes. The Superior Spider-Man's brand of egotistical and often violent heroics has rubbed many heroes the wrong way, and the former Doc Ock isn't shy about voicing his opinions about the so-called "heroes" that cross his path.
These new, sometimes contentious, and often explosive dynamics are chronicled every month in the ongoing "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up." This January, "Superior Carnage" writer Kevin Shinick takes over the series with issue #9, the beginning of a story that teams Spidey with the Punisher and Daredevil and pits them against the Green Goblin's secret criminal empire. CBR News spoke with Shinick about his inaugural story, which ties into the upcoming Spider-Man event storyline "Goblin Nation."
CBR News: Kevin, you've done a two-issue arc on "Avenging Spider-Man," a Spidey related miniseries in "Superior Carnage," and now you're the regular writer on an ongoing Spider-Man title. How does that feel? And I imagine even with your busy schedule working on television shows like "Mad" and "Robot Chicken" the opportunity to tell stories that team Spider-Man with various characters in the Marvel Universe was to good to pass up.
Kevin Shinick: That's exactly right. In fact, I'm thrilled, because the one person I enjoy teaming Spider-Man up with the most is me! So when an opportunity like this comes along I instinctively say yes. It's like a spider-sense that kicks in on its own. Only it comes out of my mouth. It's Spider-mouth! And I get it whenever they ask if I want to work on a Spider-Man book. But to be fair, I always have Spider-Man stories that I want to tell, and I always have Spider-Man on the brain, so I'm constantly at the ready. In fact, I also worked Spider-Man into "MAD's" 100th episode which is what I was wrapping up when this came along, so it'll be great to be able to exercise my Spidey muscles in the proper medium again.
The Superior Spider-Man played a role in your "Superior Carnage" series so you already have some experience writing the character, but with this new assignment you'll get a chance to take an even bigger look at the character. What do you find most interesting about Otto Octavius? Which aspects of his personality are you especially interested in exploring?
I love this whole Ock-Spidey story line that Dan [Slott] has come up with. Mostly because Spider-Man has been around for over fifty years and as great a character as he is (which is huge) I think it's a wonderful way to get creative and take a break from the norm without having to do a whole "reboot," because there are just so many ways you can rearrange the same pieces on the game board. For myself, I've really enjoyed playing with the immense ego that Superior Spider-Man has. Especially because Peter struggled so much with wondering if what he was doing was the right thing at times, that it's refreshing to be in the mind of someone who has little to zero doubt about it. And in these first few issues that I'm writing I begin to delve even more into the ramifications of having such a large ego.
Your first "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" story is especially significant in that it also ties into "Goblin Nation," a big Spidey event that's been a long time in the making. What's it like being part of that? I know it doesn't encompass as many book as, say, "Infinity," but would you consider this your first event tie-in story?
Absolutely! And I love that I'm able to contribute even a little bit to this event, because it's just that, an "event" and yet not one that encompasses so much that it strays from being a personal story. In the books I've done, I've always tried to keep things somewhat intimate, even though the actions of the characters usually have a larger effect on their lives. And this is a perfect example of that. I've talked with Dan about the "big picture" of this journey and not only do I think readers will be thrilled with what he's come up with, but I love that we've found an awesome way for me to have the roads I'm building lead to the same event.
Let's move into the Team-Up characters in this story: Daredevil and the Punisher. What's your sense of the dynamic between these two characters and Spider-Man? When your story begins do they have any sort of common ground?
They do. Right off the bat, because his moral compass lies more in the grey zone, Punisher feels he's being adversely affected by Spider-Man's war on crime. And as the story unfolds, all three of them realize they're facing a problem, which will require them to depend on each other more than they'd like to.
Who are some of the other supporting players in this story? Will we see any other heroes or members of Spidey's supporting cast?
Let's just say you'll be surprised to learn how far the Goblin's influence has reached.
What else can you tell us about the obstacles and adversaries your heroes will face in this initial story? Will they be tangling directly with the Green Goblin or any of his lieutenants? What makes these characters good foils for Spidey, Daredevil and the Punisher?
What makes me really excited about this storyline is the fact that even though the reader is aware of the Goblin's presence, Spider-Man himself still hasn't caught on yet, and without giving too much away I'll just say Spider-Man gets his first wake-up call that something larger might be at work here. And like most wake up calls, it's not a pleasant one.
We talked about characters, let's dive a little more into story. In terms of plot and themes what is the story that begins in "Superior Spider-Man" #9 about?
I think the overriding theme to this story is perception. How does what we see differ from what we know? You've got three characters who have worked together before, but in the current atmosphere are questioning each other's loyalties. Superior Spider-Man, for obvious reasons, seems different than he has in the past, Punisher's motives are always different from our traditional heroes and that unsettling "calm before the storm" vibe that hangs in the air has Daredevil questioning everything that's going on, so it's almost like these characters' trust levels are back at ground zero.
Your collaborator, artist Marco Checchetto, already has a great handle on your three protagonists having drawn them multiple times in the past. What else do you feel he brings to this story?
I'm a big fan of Marco's. What he brings to this story is the promise that this book is going to look just as awesome as his past work, but for me what he brings is a talent and understanding that lets me jump off at level ten and not have to worry about getting someone up to speed. I've already thrown a lot at Marco and he bats it back with incredible speed and creativity. Plus he says he thinks the script is great, so either I'm inspiring him to do great work or he's lying through his teeth. Wait. See? Now we've got life imitating art with me now wondering if I can trust Marco.
[Laughs] Finally, the "Goblin Nation" tie-in is just the beginning of your run on "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up." What can you tell us about your plans for the series moving forward? It seems like a book like this and a character like Spider-Man means you can tell almost any kind of story with any kind of tone, correct?
That's true. And if I can, I'd like to keep unearthing some of the lesser used characters like I've done in my other books, but for now I think a lot of what I'll do will be within the wake of "Goblin Nation." More importantly, I'm going to touch upon stories that you've never seen before. I think you'd be surprised to learn that throughout the rich history of these characters, Doc Ock and the Green Goblin have had very few interactions together. So I'm going to explore some of the more interesting times and reveal a few key moments from the past that might even have a big impact on our current story lines.
Marco and I aren't taking the term "Team-Up" lightly. We know the readers expect our team-up to deliver just as many rewards as the characters themselves, so we're packing our issues with as many explosive and fulfilling moments as we can. So unless someone has switched bodies with Marco on their deathbed, then we should be good to go. Crap. Now you've got me wondering again.
"Superior Spider-Man" #9 by Kevin Shinick & Marco Checchetto is on sale January 22, 2014.