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Amazing Spider-Man: The Gauntlet

Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Mystery

Fred Van Lente discusses Peter Parker playing detective and facing off against a very dangerous Sandman

By Tim Stevens

Fans know Spider-Man as a high-flying, acrobatic hero with no equal above the ground. Thanks to Fred Van Lente and Javier Pulido, they will see a different side of the Wallcrawler on December 16 in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #615 when Spidey gets brought down to ground level courtesy of a classic closed door mystery.

For the writer, this plot felt like a perfect fit for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

"The detective genre is just so wrapped up in the roots of the super hero it seems to me completely natural to put any Long Underwear Man-or Woman in a sleuthing role," insists Van Lente.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #615 variant cover by Joe Quinones
However, tradition alone did not inspire Van Lente to present this story, as the approach allowed him to explore a side of Spidey that often gets pushed to the background by the feats of athleticism.

"Peter Parker is a clever guy, not just in the science realm, and this gives him a chance to show off his smarts in a major way," he points out. "It's 'CSI: Spidey!'"

Unfortunately, it remains to be seen at what level that vaunted brain of Parker's will be operating as multiple distractions battle for his attention.

"Our entire cast-but Pete and Mayor J. Jonah Jameson in particular-is still reeling from the effects of Electro's attack on the city, and the ramifications of that ripple throughout this story, and the rest of 'The Gauntlet' as a whole," the writer reveals.

Additionally, a close friend seems to be on the edge of losing everything and Spidey's unique skills might be all that can save here.

"Carlie Cooper, the NYPD Forensics tech that's one of my favorite of the 'Brand New Day' supporting cast, has been accused of lab improprieties that get her brought up on charges and may cause a whole host of convictions of really violent criminals to be thrown out," explains Van Lente. "This is the potential disaster for his friend and for his city that Peter gets thrust into, but once he figures out Carlie's been framed, it's up to Spider-Man to solve the case and save the day."

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #615 cover by Paolo Rivera
Of course, all these disturbances pale in comparison to the return of a classic villain, the Sandman. Van Lente found the criminal an attractive antagonist given his inherently tragic existence.

"[Sandman]'s basically a monster; a tragic, freakish character," he says. "He's never going to be a normal person. He's never going to lead the completely normal life the rest of us do. In this story, when he tries to grasp some normality for himself something truly horrific happens, as you will see."

As the horror unfolds, the Webslinger quickly grasps that Sandman has changed. His powers have increased and Spider-Man recognizes the new threat his foe represents in light of this.

"[Spidey sees him as] exceptionally dangerous, more dangerous than before," Van Lente emphasizes. "How accurate that is once you read the whole story I will leave you, the reader, to decide."

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