The End of the Spider-Verse is the Beginning of Slott’s Next Spidey Run
The End of the Spider-Verse is the Beginning of Slott’s Next Spidey Run
Marvel's Spider-Man has been around for six decades, and writer Dan Slott penned Peter Parker's adventures on and off for a remarkable portion of that run. His tenure on the flagship Spidey book, The Amazing Spider-Man, involved a grueling schedule that often involved putting out two to three issues a month. Slott rose to the challenge, and his run featured many high-profile and exciting stories that showed how versatile a character Spider-Man truly is. Many of the ideas he introduced, like the Spider-Verse, found their way into other media as well.
CBR VIDEO OF THE DAY
It looked like Slott had finally said goodbye to Spider-Man when his run on Amazing ended in 2018. But now, the writer is teaming with legendary Spider-Man artist Mark Bagley for the launch of a new volume of Spider-Man, which kicks off with an arc titled "The End of the Spider-Verse." CBR spoke with Slott about the new arc, working with Bagley, and how this series, even after all those years spent writing Spidey, is a dream project. Marvel also shared a look at Bagley's art from the upcoming Spider-Man #2.
CBR: I read that coming back to Spider-Man is like returning home for you. So, this was a very easy project to say yes to?
Dan Slott: Putting out a Spider-Man book two to three times a month also meant that you were always working with two or three artists, and you were always writing stories out of sequence. So if you were doing arcs, you'd be working on issue one with one artist, but then you'd jump over and write issue three of a different storyline with another artist. Then you'd jump over and write issue two of another arc with another artist. [Laughs] So, you'd be juggling these multiple arcs of the same character and mapping out where all their stories were going.
That meant that if you were ever in the middle of an arc and realized you needed one more issue for it, you couldn't do it because the train was already on the next track. So, I loved every moment of working on that book, but it was a grind. I was always going, "If I could do my dream book once a month, and have a regular relationship with one artist, then we'd be talking." [Laughs] I'd like to be graded on a curve for everything I did for ten years because I had to do it while jumping through such bizarre hoops.
Now though, I'm working with Marvel legend, Mark Bagley! Between his tenure on Ultimate Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man, Mark has drawn more Spider-Man than anybody. He's someone with Spider-Man in his blood and he's one of the few people in the industry that can draw 12 issues or more a year. That's a rare breed of artist nowadays. So, I get to work with one of the greatest Spider-Man artists every month. We've already put a bunch of issues in the drawer. It's just the best feeling in the world. This is the wish come true.
Are you and Mark working "Marvel Style?"
It's what people call Marvel style, but it's not really Marvel style. When I write a plot, it's not like a Stan Lee plot. His plots would have suggestions for certain pages, but then he'd go tighter on other things. I write a panel-by-panel description of the entire comic. Everything is broken down into pages and panels with pretty tight descriptions of everything that's going on. But then I see what gifts Mark has given me in the final art, and I'll change the dialogue. Mark will also make suggestions. He'll find faster and more efficient ways to do things in the art. Or it will be like, "We had this fight on a street for an issue. I thought it would be cooler if we move it up to the roof. And I'm like, "Yeah, that's fun. Let's do that."
Have you and Mark worked together before?
He's done covers for books I've worked on, but the only other time we've worked together was on my first in-canon Spider-Man story, which was a short story in Venom Super Size #1 back in the '90s. So, this is like full circle over here. We also did a 2-3 page J. Jonah Jameson story during Jason Aaron's Original Sin event.
So, we're still learning our rhythms, but that's fun. It was the same way with Mike Allred on Silver Surfer. There's that period where you're working with one art team and you're trying new things. The goal is to become that couple that nobody wants to play Pictionary with, and we're getting there. I'm also excited to be working with Edgar Delgado again. He's our colorist, and he's wonderful. He's a joy to work with.
Zeb Wells is the writer of Amazing Spider-Man. What does that mean for your book?
Yes! Zeb's book, literally, is amazing, and it's the flagship. That means I don't ever have to worry about being the guy in the big chair! I love that. My shorthand for the way things work is if Zeb tells a story where Peter Parker gets a peanut allergy, he will have that peanut allergy over in Spider-Man.
The fun of it is we have complete freedom. I'm happiest working on Spider-Man when I can take the big swings. There is a rule in baseball though; the guys who knock it out of the park the most are also the guys who strike out the most. You take your big swing, and you have to be okay with the fact that sometimes you don't connect, but we're always going to go for the fences. You're always going to get our best shot. This is a book that can and will go anywhere. With our opening story, we're going to go nuts and wrap up the Spider-Verse trilogy. Our second arc will be very street-level.
Coming back to Spider-Man also means that you get to play with some new toys Zeb has introduced over in Amazing, like a working relationship with Norman Osborn and a costume that includes a Goblin Glider.
Yeah, Peter and Norman working together is such a weird dynamic! That's not something I could have come up with, but if someone tells me I'm writing Spider-Man and Pete works for Norman Osborn, my response is, "Well, that's crazy fun! I am definitely playing with that!" And, yes, I'm having a blast with the Oscorp costume. Trust me — no one knows the joys of playing around with new Spider-Man costumes more than me.
You mentioned your first arc is a conclusion to the Spider-Verse trilogy. How does it feel to come back and wrap up a story that's grown so big it launched an iconic animated film?
It's weird, man! When I did Spider-Verse with Olivier Coipel, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and all the other artists who did the shorts, we knew we had something cool — and then boom! It became an arc of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. It was like, "Well, this is weird." [Laughs] Then the collections of it were my first ever New York Times bestsellers.
So, it was lightning in a bottle. It took the idea from the video game I worked on with Insomniac, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, where 3 different Peter Parkers and Miguel O'Hara teamed up and blew it up to a ludicrous extent, and it's cool that it went on to become this masterpiece of a film from Lord and Miller and the amazing team at Sony Animation. That movie also involves a lot of Brian Michael Bendis' Spider-Men mini and a lot of other things. At the same time, I look at it and go, "It's a big adventure with Miles, Peter, Spider-Man Noir, Penny Parker, Spider-Gwen, and Spider-Ham." I've only seen those characters together in one other adventure. So, yeah, I feel cool about that [Laughs].
This opening story spins out of the current Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries, which reintroduces the threat of Shathra, who many readers will be meeting for the first time. What made you want to bring Shathra back? What do you want readers to know about her?
The original Spider-Verse was about Morlun and his family, who hunted down Spider-Totems and devoured them. So, the original Spider-Verse was all the remaining Spider-Totems having to band together because this family was wiping them out of existence. They weren't doing it to save the universe. They were trying to save each other. Then we had the sequel of Spider-Geddon, which my good pal, Chris Gage, wrote. Then Jed MacKay did a Spider-Verse arc, and we're wrapping all of that up here.
In my mind, it was always a trilogy, and where Shathra comes into play is that in the giant, cosmic food chain, she is a being that is a totem above the spiders. She is the embodiment of the Spider-Wasp Totem, and she is a Spider-Totem's natural enemy. So in the world of the totems, this is a far deadlier foe than Morlun. Suddenly, everything that's been happening in Spider-Verse before is ramped up.
Morlun isn't out of the picture, though, correct?
This is a trilogy. You don't do A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and not use the Empire in Return of the Jedi. So, of course, Morlun is in there being his bad self. The number one villain this time, though, is Shathra.
And Shathra's wasp versus spiders rivalry is represented in nature as well? Don't some wasps eat spiders?
They do. Also, some wasps implant their larva into spiders and grow them in their bellies, and then those burst out.
Opposing Shathra is a whole host of spider characters, many of whom you've written before. So, what's it like returning to characters like Silk and Miles Morales?
There's so much I don't want to spoil. I really don't want to talk about the returning spiders.
Let's flip the question then. Who are some of your favorite new spider characters to write in this story?
I'm loving the new spiders! If I'm going to play favorites, they're the ones you haven't seen in Edge of Spider-Verse yet. [At the time this interview was conducted, only two issues of Edge of Spider-Verse had been released.] In Edge of Spider-Verse #3, we're going to go to a world where Felicia Hardy gets spider-powers instead of her Black Cat bad luck powers. So the question is what kind of thief will she be as the Night-Spider? Besides one who literally has sticky fingers.
In the original Spider-Verse, we briefly met Spider-Mobile, who hailed from a Pixar Cars-style world. You'll get to see him in his secret identity; the car he is before he transforms into Spider-Mobile. His secret identity is Peter Parkedcar. You'll see him off on an adventure in Edge of Spider-Verse #4.
That issue also introduces another of my favorite spiders. Her name is Spinstress, and she is an animated princess-type character that frequently bursts into song. You'll see her origins in a story told by David Hein (from Hein & Sankoff, the husband and wife team who wrote the Broadway musical Come From Away). The artist on that story, Luciano Vecchio, has a style that's perfect for this kind of story. [Laughs] Everything about the Spinstress story makes me happy.
Issue #4 also features a story with Sun-Spider, a disabled spider-hero, created by a Marvel fan during the Spider-Persona contest. A fan, Dayna Broder, came up with her, basing the character's EDS disability on their own, and award-winning writer, Tee Franklin, is writing her story. It's one more way that, in the Spider-Verse, anyone can wear the mask.
Then Edge of Spider-Verse #5 is one for the ages. We're going to have the first openly gay Spider-Man. His name is Web-Weaver. He's a fashion designer who works for the Janet Van Dyne of his universe. Steve Foxe is the writer who co-created Web-Weaver with artist Kei Zama. Kris Anka did the designs for the character, and they're fantastic.
Also, in that issue, I've plotted a story about a world where Kraven the Hunter gains spider powers. He becomes Hunter-Spider. We got Bob McLeod to come back for that story! He was the inker on "Kraven's Last Hunt." And I am so honored that J.M. DeMatteis, the greatest Kraven writer of them all, wrote the script! The character's voice is perfect! I love everything about the story.
Then the final story is from Phil Lord, of Lord and Miller from Into the Spider-Verse fame! Phil took a little time off from working on Across the Spider-Verse and created an all-new spider for us. All we can tell you is that the character's name is Syllie Spider. Every issue of Edge of Spider-Verse has been amazing. The second printings of #1 and #2 will be out by New Comic Day, along with the release of EOSV #5. And issues #3 and #4 should still be on the rack! So it should ALL be there for you if you want to jump in. Issue #1 featured the breakout character, Spider-Rex, who is Spider-Man as a dinosaur! The visual of those tiny T-Rex arms shooting webs is just adorable.
What can you tell us about the shape and action of the "The End of the Spider-Verse" arc? Is this a dimension-hopping tale?
We haven't had a Spider-Verse adventure set on Earth. The characters are usually whisked away immediately. So, I can say that there will be some important things that happen on Earth in this story. Plus, there is a dimension [that] we've never seen before, and when you find out about that dimension, there will be something (and someone) very cool about it.
Finally, as you've been saying, this book is sort of a dream come true for you, and it sounds like you have a multitude of plans for it.
Yes! I'm in this for the long haul. This is all I want to do. Every single month I get to tell stories with my favorite character ever. I get to do that with a talented group of people who I love working with, one of whom happens to be a Spider-Man artistic legend. [Laughs] So, that's a pretty cool place to be.
I was talking with a big-name Marvel writer who has a history with Spider-Man. They asked, "You're coming back to Spider-Man? You did it for 10 and a half years! What do you have left to say?" [Laughs] I told him, "I would write Spider-Man until I'm in the grave. I love Spider-Man!" He responded, "What story could you possibly tell?" Then I told him the thing we're doing in the second arc. He paused and then went, "That's really good! Nobody's done that before in the 60-year history of Spider-Man?" And I was like, "Nope!" He said, "Okay, you're good to go!"
Spider-Man #2 is due out on Tuesday, Nov. 9.