By Kevin Mahadeo
For writer Dan Slott, it's no mystery as to what makes Mysterio one of the greatest Spider-Man villains of all time.
"No electric powers. No sand powers. No scorpion tail. No nothing," exclaims Slott. "He does it all on wits and skill alone. Not only is he smart like Doc Ock is smart, Mysterio is smart in that he messes with you. He does not stop messing with you. When you're up against Mysterio, you don't know if up is down, if black is white, or what's going on. You do not know what's up when you're facing Mysterio."
Slott starts the show on Mysterio's return with the release of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #618 on January 20. The arc re-teams Slott with artist Marcos Martin and fits into the recent Gauntlet event, which pits the Web Head against some of his more classic foes. Slott took some time away from making his magic to talk about the upcoming storyline, why the fish bowl look must stay and his desire to tell the ultimate Screwball story.
Marvel.com: Do you remember when you were first introduced to the character of Mysterio?
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #618 variant cover by Joe Quinones
Dan Slott: It was the Flying Dutchman episode of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon [Now available on Marvel.com-Boastful Ben]. It was in reruns on syndication when I was a little kid and that big ol' fish bowl-you fall in love with him.
Marvel.com: So, wait, the fish bowl head is what drew you to the character?
Dan Slott: Yeah. He just had such a weird look that Steve Ditko designed. No one else looks like Mysterio. And when you're a kid and you're doodling all your super heroes and super villains, he's a pretty easy one to do. Fish bowl!
Marvel.com: As the classic villains have been reintroduced, we've seen a few of them get some cosmetic changes. That said, considering your love of the fish bowl, can we expect that from Mysterio?
Dan Slott: Marcos Martin did a beautiful redesign of Mysterio. He has some [elements] to his costume that deal with what he's doing in this story. But he also still has another look that is closer to his classic look. But the one thing that Marcos and I were dead set on was that we were not touching the fish bowl.
Marvel.com: All the Web Head writers sort of claimed what character they wanted to work on for the Gauntlet. For you, was Mysterio your immediate choice?
Dan Slott: Yeah. I pitched a Mysterio story at our first-ever Spider-Man meeting. This Mysterio story. This was the one I wanted to do. That was before the editors told us we were locking up the classic characters for about half a year and creating new guys like Mister Negative and Deity and Screwball. For me, the minute the toy chest became unlocked, I couldn't wait to do that Mysterio story.
Marvel.com: Side note, the character of Screwball is one I just love. She's just adorable with her villainy.
Dan Slott: She is a hoot. Actually, Marcos and I have been talking about wanting to do a really fleshed out Screwball story. She's shown up in cameos in places. She showed up in the first Paperdoll story. She [showed] up in the "Who is Ben Reilly" arc. There was an AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY short with her. She's fun, but we've yet to see her take center stage. We've yet to see the reason why this person who claims to only have Parkour abilities is able to outpace Spider-Man. It shouldn't work. How is she pulling this off? There is a reason, and you've yet to see that. There's a cool twist to what we'd be doing if we ever get to do that story.
Marvel.com: We mentioned earlier how the classic villains have been revamped a bit for the Gauntlet. How did you approach Mysterio for this story?
Dan Slott: Mysterio always works best when you don't know you're fighting Mysterio. He always works best when he's a secret, when he's a surprise. When he is someone working behind the scenes. The minute you know Mysterio is your enemy, you're expecting the unexpected. His greatest power is secrecy. He is all about misdirection and the best form of that is to not let you know you're dealing with him. Keep in mind that Mysterio is supposed to be dead. And just like we saw in the Molten Man story, Mysterio over the years has been providing a service for people where he has been faking deaths. So, you have no idea who is dead and who is coming back and what is at stake.
Marvel.com: That's one thing you're pretty known for. Because of your encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel, whenever there's something where most people think it's impossible to work a story, you always find a way to make it work.
Dan Slott: Continuity should serve the story. The story shouldn't serve continuity. Continuity is fun. It's a building block. It's a foundation. It's something you can stand on, but it shouldn't be the only point of the story.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #620 cover by Marcos Martin
Marvel.com: What else can you say about what readers can expect to see?
Dan Slott: Beautiful Marcos Martin art and gorgeous colors by Javier Rodriguez.
Marvel.com: As a wrap up, you're doing the Mysterio story and you mentioned wanting to do a Screwball story, but is there any other Spidey villain you want to work on?
Dan Slott: The answer to that is: "All of them." Spidey has one of the best rogues gallery in all of comics. I can't wait to get my hands on all of them. There is so much stuff I want to do in the Spidey world. People ask me at shows, "Which Spidey character do you not like?" I used to always say Adrian Toomes, the original Vulture. To me, that was Spider-Man punching an old man. I said this one time too many and Senior Editor Tom Brevoort challenged me to come up with an Adrian Toomes story. And I came up with a really cool idea. Here's a guy I wasn't even crazy about and look at this cool story I could get out of him. At the end of the day, anybody created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko or Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr., you're looking at some of the greatest characters in all of comics. They are just rich and ripe in stories.
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