(CBR) SPOILER WARNING: This interview contains major spoilers for the future of "Superior Spider-Man."
Remember Peter Parker? Brown hair, a little nerdy, internationally beloved pop culture icon?
Peter's been mostly absent from Marvel Comics as of late, since the dawn of the "Superior Spider-Man" era in January 2013. As you are very likely familiar with, a circa late 2012 Dan Slott-written storyline saw perennial nemesis Doctor Octopus switched brains with an unwilling Spider-Man, just before Doc Ock's ailing body met its seemingly permanent end. Things looked just about as bad as they could get for Spidey, but a shred of Peter Parker's consciousness stuck around in his body to try and keep Otto Octavius in check -- until Doc Ock discovered it and quickly had it expunged. Since then, Doc Ock has been fully steering the Spider-Man ship, doling out justice with a distinctly supervillain-esque approach. And despite some rather vocal outcry, "Superior Spider-Man" has been both a financial and critical hit for Marvel.
But -- as Slott freely admits -- Peter Parker was never going to stay away forever, especially with a major theatrical release -- "Amazing Spider-Man 2," out May 2 -- close on the horizon. As of April, he's returning in a new volume of "Amazing Spider-Man," the traditional flagship Spidey series, starting with a new #1 from Slott and long-time Spider-Man artist Humberto Ramos. The new book will launch shortly before the new film debuts, with a first arc featuring movie villain Electro.
We spoke with Slott to learn slightly more about the new "Amazing Spider-Man" -- with several months of story left to be revealed, he's keeping the hows and whys of Peter's return a closely guarded secret -- and opine on the impact of "Superior Spider-Man," which wraps in April with the "Goblin Nation" arc. "All the way up to this new launch, every issue is a bullet in the gun," Slott said. "Every issue, some major domino is falling over."
Dan Slott: Wait, wait, are you telling me that for a 50-year old, half-century long icon, the greatest superhero of all time, Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, we weren't going to keep him dead? You've uncovered my master plan!
Was there a planned length of time for the "Superior Spider-Man" era? Did you maybe keep things going longer once it became clear it was a success? We could have kept this going for ages, but we stuck with the plan that was always there. There were times we'd be talking about it at Marvel before there'd been any fan reaction, and they'd ask, "Can you keep this up all the way to the movie?" Remember, we're a double-shipping book. "Maybe you can keep this up for six months. Nine months. Ten months. A year." I'm like, no, no, no -- there are 30-plus issues of this. We can do this."
Once the reaction came in for the very first issue, and the thing went back to press three times, we were like, "OK, it's got legs. We're good." We knew back in January, after the first issue, that people were going to stay along for the ride.
It's been a success and not only in the main title, but spawning the "Superior" brand on several other titles at Marvel.
I think it's very neat, where you had other books where Spider-Man was going to appear, and other teams would ask "Do we have to use Superior Spider-Man? Can we set our stories before the switch?" Then after you had books like "Daredevil" and "Journey Into Mystery" using Superior, and everything worked out great, then it was all, "Can we use Superior?" It's weird to me, to watch this all happen, because it's a story I've wanted to tell since "Amazing Spider-Man" #600.
And suddenly you have Ryan Stegman launch it. And Humberto doing art, and Giuseppe Camuncoli. And it all comes to life. We have the best art team in comics. How do you screw that up? I could have switched his brain with a monkey, and we'd still be having this talk, because the book just looks so good.
And it's been consistent -- a lot of titles launch with big numbers, but "Superior Spider-Man" has sustained them, netting two spots in the top 10 most months of 2013.
I know. That's ludicrous! And we're all putting out an issue every other week. And that's a testament to the entire creative team. Every issue I look at it, and go, "I am really proud of this." Guys like my co-writer Chris Gage coming in to help out when I'm slowing down. Steve Wacker [former Marvel senior editor now moving to a job in Marvel Animation] making sure you get those two issues a month. It's crazy.
We did something truly insane. You look at the Internet outrage over #700, there were so many people saying, "I'm going to boycott this book. This book is going to tank. I refuse to buy this. How dare you?!" All the people who talk on your boards here- - on all the comic message boards -- you think we'd get this by now; they don't represent the people who are actually walking in the store and saying, "I want that."
For Bendis' entire run of "Avengers," the flagship book of Marvel Comics, you could not keep it on the rack. And yet if you looked on message boards there would be people going, "You disrespected the Avengers! Wolverine and Spider-Man on the team? Why?" This is the world we live in now. It's my New Year's Resolution to stop reading the comments. It so doesn't reflect what's actually happening in the stores, at the shows and at the signings. Even now, you would think this is the most hated book in the world. But when you're meeting fans in person, they're all asking a million detailed questions about what's going on in the book.
People were obviously upset a year ago with #700 and Superior Spider-Man happening, do you think things have flipped to the point where people going to be upset now about Peter Parker coming back?
Absolutely! Everyone who was enjoying it and being quiet is going to jump in. What's fun for me is over the year, I get more and more people every month going, "I badmouthed this book, but now that I've actually read it for myself, I can't stop." Or, "This arc turned me around." It's bizarre. I get these sincere apology messages from people I've never met. I'm like, "OK, that's cool."
So… Spoiler. Might want to stop the interview here….
You're going to see this week, in "Superior Spider-Man" #25 – super spoiler! -- that the ghost of Peter Parker is very much alive, and functioning, and trying to fight his way back.
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