By Jim Beard
For over 40 years, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN's publishing history has been one of consistency and quality. Always at the center of the Spider-Man
universe, the Webslinger's original title has found itself supplemented over the years by a bevy of other Spidey books, all vying for fans' attention--but no more.
Marvel Comics says "less is more" and will prove it: come Fall, there will be no more SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN or FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN or any other ongoing mainstream Marvel U. Wallcrawler outlet. There will be only AMAZING SPIDER-MAN...and it will be published three times a month starting in November! Welcome, to a Brand New Day
They'll say it can't be done. They'll say that Marvel's gone loco. They also told Stan Lee that he couldn't name a hero "Spider-Man" because, well, people hate spiders. Like Stan the Man before him, newly-ensconced Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker aims t'prove 'em wrong when AMAZING SPIDER-MAN goes thrice monthly.
We sat down with Wacker (who still has that minty 'new editor' smell) and begged him to tell us exactly what Brand New Day means to him, to Spider-Man and most importantly, to the millions of fans across the globe. He's a tough character, that Wacker, but we managed to eke out a few details of this, ahem, amazing event.
"In as simple (and non-revealing) terms as possible, this book tells the story of Peter Parker...not Spider-Man," says Wacker.
This brazen idea, this daring thought of weeding the Spider-Man garden of the surplus growth has percolated on the backburner (is that mixing metaphors?) in the Marvel offices for a goodly amount of time. It was only after the news that current web-logged writer J. Michael Straczynski was leaving AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and before Wacker came onboard the good ship Marvel, that the decision to streamline the Spider-Man books was made. The big question now, of course, is why?
"The trouble with all the 'extra' Spidey books throughout history, from MARVEL TEAM-UP to PETER PARKER to WEB OF SPIDER-MAN, etc., etc.," explains Wacker, "is that they are always seen as ancillary to AMAZING which is historically the main Spider-Man book. Both in terms of perception and sales, the feeling has been that if you could only pick up one book, you pick up AMAZING.
"That's not to say the other titles didn't have their exciting moments and their great stories, but what we want to do here is give readers a feeling like there's another chapter in Peter Parker's life every week, and the best way to get that in front of the most people is to put everything into AMAZING SPIDER-MAN."
Much like the recent spotlight of the Avengers
universe by the famous Marvel Bullpen, Spider-Man will be given the same loving treatment. Fans will see without a shadow of doubt that there has never been another character like Spider-Man before, nor is there ever likely to be one again. He is one of the cornerstones of the Marvel firmament--a true original. "Marvel is great at moving the spotlight around the different character 'families'," notes Wacker. "And going into SPIDER-MAN: ONE MORE DAY with Joe [Quesada] and leading into our stuff definitely gives the Spidey books a lot of attention." A natural progression of thought would lead one to the question of writers for the three times the amount of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN we are used to receiving. On this quandary Wacker is non-committal. "Not Loeb. Not Millar. Not Brubaker," he says, noting the obvious suspects. "Three live on the West Coast. One lives in New York."
Where there are comic book writers, there are also comic book artists, and frankly, Spider-Man is many creators' dream project. Why, the Spider-Man Artist Hall of Fame is bursting at the seams with powerful pencillers: Ditko! Romita! Andru! McFarlane! Romita Jr.! Who could possibly follow these titans? On that, Wacker is also infuriatingly mum.
"Still a secret. All three of the upcoming artists for Amazing Spider-Man are very stylized, so there's something for everyone.
"This is being scheduled so that each artist works on a full story. The thing we want to avoid is having an artist who has to draw Part 2 of someone else's story. The pencillers involved with this project take the work very seriously and to use them simply as replaceable bricks in a wall doesn't make much sense. They're invested enough that they get to own their stories.
"The artists are huge parts of this book to me. There's nothing like that feeling of getting fresh Spider-Man pages in your e-mailbox six months before anyone else gets to see them. Sounds corny, but that's the kind of thing you live for when you're working on superhero stories every day."
Wacker has also announced that there will be a new look, or "trade dress' to the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN covers to denote their new and exciting three-times-monthly existence. "I like classic looking stuff," he admits, giving a wee hint as to what to expect. "Small, skinny logos rarely work for me. I usually like design that makes a big footprint on a cover and isn't afraid to be a comic book."
As you can see, Marvel is being tight-lipped about this momentous transformation in everyone's favorite swingin' superhero book, but suffice to say that more tidbits as well as firm announcements on both writers and artists for the new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN will be heading your way before you can say "Make Mine Marvel!"
Wacker leads us out by boiling it down to the most important words of all:
"Look for Amazing Spider-Man #546 in November." 'Nuff Said!
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