In "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2, writer Jason Latour, artist Robbi Rodriguez and colorist Rico Renzi gave readers a glimpse of a fascinating alternate Marvel Universe where the bite of a radioactive spider transformed Gwen Stacy into Spider-Woman and her friend Peter Parker tragically perished after transforming himself into the monstrous Lizard. It was a brief look at the fascinating new journey for Gwen, but by the end of her introductory issue she was recruited into the cross-dimensional conflict currently being chronicled in the epic "Spider-Verse" crossover.
Readers were so intrigued by this new version of Gwen Stacy that "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2 has gone into a third printing and inspired a real-life rock band to cover the song that Gwen's band, the Mary Janes, performed in the issue. It's no surprise that Marvel announced during New York Comic Con that this February the alternate universe Spider-Woman will return in a new ongoing series by Latour, Rodriguez and Renzi titled "Spider-Gwen." CBR News spoke with Latour about returning to Gwen Stacy, the opening arc of the series which finds his protagonist coming home after the chaos of "Spider-Verse" and comparing and contrasting her Earth to the main Marvel 616 Earth.
CBR News: Jason, how does it feel to be given a chance to return to the world and character you, Robbi, and Rico created in "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2 and flesh out it and Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman with an ongoing series?
Jason Latour: It's honestly very surreal. Readers literally made this book happen. It's kind of unprecedented in a lot of ways. It's not lost on any of us how special that is.
I know you have to be vague here to avoid spoilers, but when "Spider-Gwen" #1 begins your title character will have returned from fighting what was essentially an inter-dimensional war in "Spider-Verse." So how did that impact her? What's her state of mind when issue #1 begins?
That's very much a question we'll be asking in this first arc. I wouldn't say it's essential to read "Spider-Verse," this book will operate completely on its own, but it's impossible to ignore that not only has she been fighting in a war, she's been interacting with dozens upon dozens of heroic Spider-Men and Women -- many of which are Peter Parkers. After the tragedy that befell the Peter of her universe, there's no way that that kind of experience won't mess with her head a little.
So on one hand she's come back inspired by their heroism, and seeking to be the kind of Spider-Woman that can inspire others in the same way. But her wounds have also been opened a bit wider. Seeing all the things Peter could have been really hits home how big of a loss his death was. She's striving to come to grips with what losing Peter really means. Maybe even trying too hard.
Can you talk about exactly how long Gwen was gone during the "Spider-Verse" crossover? Was she gone long enough for her police captain father and friends to be concerned?
She's been gone long enough for it to make an impact. Her father was very concerned, her friends in the Mary Janes too, though they have a different take on her disappearance. But Jonah Jameson and the Police haven't forgotten, especially now that figures like The Vulture have kind of stepped into that little void she left behind. If anything that's caused them to double down, and as a result we'll see a new threat emerging from the law enforcement side of things. From the moment she touches back down, she's scrambling to catch up and that's going to mean she has to be the best Spider-Woman she's ever been. But to do that can she have a personal life at all? Is there any room left for Gwen Stacy?
Let's move from Gwen's personal world to the larger world you're dealing with in "Spider-Gwen." We know from issue #2 of "Edge of Spider-Verse" that Peter Parker became the Lizard and perished in Gwen's world, but we don't know a whole lot else about its super hero population. Are Gwen and her rogues the only super powered people in her reality? How does Gwen's dimension compare to the Marvel 616 Earth when it comes to the fantastic?
All will be revealed over time. But it's a much more scaled down universe, one that's a bit more in line with the way Peter Parker's world was around the time he first became Spider-Man.
But as we'll see, time moves relative to this story and isn't a direct parallel to the 616. It's very much its own reality, and the slightest changes here or there have reconfigured things in unique ways. Some seemingly familiar characters have found themselves in very similar roles, others mirror inversions, and some have found completely different walks of life. One thing Robbi, Rico, [editor] Nick Lowe and I are very cognizant of is not turning this book into a cover song. So it's very much going to reveal its own rules and wrinkles in time.
When you launched Gwen's adventures in "Edge of Spider-Verse" #2 she had been a hero for awhile. How large is her rogues gallery when you pick things up in "Spider-Gwen" #1? Are there any villains who will be returning to her life that readers can expect to meet for the first time in this series? In general, how do Gwen's villains compared to 616's Peter Parker's?
We'll certainly see more of "Evil" Matt Murdock, and the question we'll be asking is what if Matt Murdock didn't operate with his sense of guilt in place? What would it be replaced by? Something that makes him very dangerous, I can tell you that much. This Murdock has seemingly embraced a life of crime, and as we've seen already, has a very curious and active interest in Spider-Woman.
We'll also see a new slant on The Vulture, a character who in traditional spider-mythos we've typically seen as a bitter, angry old man. Our Vulture is a bit more complex than that, a little more aware of the power his name and the imagery associated with him gives him. It's a power we'll see take a very strong grip on Gwen subconsciously. Especially after all she's seen and been through.
There's also a very familiar face in issue #1. A traditional Spider-villain with very strong ties to both Gwen and Captain Stacy who I hinted at above. We've re-imagined him here -- and he'll be a major and consistent threat as we move forward.
Let's talk a little bit about the visuals of this opening arc of "Spider-Gwen." How do you think coming back for an ongoing inspired Robbi and Rico? Which visual aspects of Gwen's world will they be adding to and expanding on?
Robbi and I are both cartoonists, so we're very much on the same page in terms of trying to do something that feels unique to that format. It's always nice when you have someone you can trust to push in that direction. My big challenge is to keep Robbi challenged and engaged.
And Rico is literally the steady handed backbeat to it all. He does so many little things that might otherwise go unnoticed or slip through the cracks. Those things add up in a story, there's an entropy to the process, and with a lesser colorist you'd get to the point where on the back end they're either doing far too much or far too little. Between the three of us I'm really looking forward to crafting a unique corner of the Marvel U.
I'm hopeful that we have the chance and confident that we've got the ability to at least make a run at that.
Finally, can you offer a general overview of the tone and feel of Spider-Woman's adventures in "Spider-Gwen?" What kind of book do you want it to be?
Oh man, it's just a stab at making the kinds of comics I enjoyed growing up. At least spiritually. You absolutely have to push forward and do your own thing, but it does help to think back on that stuff. The kinds of comics that were mature in their undertones but also fully embraced the imagination and absurdity of a world where superheroes exist. We're in a good place as comics go, where thanks to the success of superheroes in movies it's now possible to return comics to being driven by their own form. We're not trying to sell people on a Spider-Gwen movie.
Everything you need to know about this book is in the title. It's Spider-powers and it's Gwen Stacy. It's both aspects, fun big melodramatic super heroics and coming of age drama, plus whatever other insane sleep deprived stuff we come up with.
"Spider-Gwen" #1 debuts on Feb. 25 from Marvel Comics.