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Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Paul Tobin

It's all-ages excitement as we discuss the re-launched SPIDER-MAN and SUPER HEROES ongoing series

By Kevin Mahadeo

Writer Paul Tobin wants to rewrite the dictionary-and he looks to do so with his two new all-ages ongoing series SPIDER-MAN and SUPER HEROES.

"I think that I, in conjunction with some other writers who have gone before me, notably Jeff Parker and Fred Van Lente, have been changing what 'all-ages' means to Marvel," says Tobin. "In some ways, I think it once meant the same thing it means to a lot of other publishers. That the books were for kids. 'All-Ages' at Marvel means something else now. It means that the books are accessible for everyone including kids. There's not going to be much bloodshed in these books, but at the same time, there are going to be complex characters, emotions and situations. We're upping the drama here, and the stakes."

SPIDER-MAN re-launches out of Tobin's previous series, MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN, and features art by Matteo Lolli. SUPER HEROES continues from MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPER HEROES; with art by Ronan Cliquet, the book joins together classic Avengers characters with other heroes from across the Marvel Universe into a new team.

Marvel.com went for a swing with the adventurous writer as he weaves his all-ages web on the brand-new titles.


SPIDER-MAN #1 cover by Karl Kerschl
Marvel.com: Looking at SPIDER-MAN, where is Peter Parker when this book starts out? What's a day in his life like?

Paul Tobin: He's new to the spider-powers, and new to the responsibility they bring. He's not very much loved by the police [and] is hated by the press. He has romance in his life and homework to do. He has an entire crime family intent on killing him, and the crime family's newest employee, Bullseye, is steadily marching to a confrontation. And this is Bullseye, here not Bullseye Lite. So Peter has a major problem on his hands.

Marvel.com: This book features Peter back to his roots as a high school super hero, trying to balance both his hero life and homework. What about that status appeals to you? What do you like about that setup?

Paul Tobin: The freshness of it. I can remember being a teenager myself, the feeling that the world was new, exciting and that I was getting a chance to make a mark, control my destiny, help change the planet, etc. At the same time, there were all these girls, and all these new responsibilities, and choices that mattered. I want Peter to get to deal with all that, and have to deal with all that.

Marvel.com: There were quite a few supporting characters in the original MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN book. Will we continue to see the same cast carry over into the re-launch?

Paul Tobin: We'll see them all in some capacity. As far as exactly what capacity, I don't want to give anything away at this point. It's a strong supporting cast, and it's going to get stronger with the addition of one or two more players.

Marvel.com: Emma Frost was a supporting player the first time around. What are the chances of her and Spidey getting together? That'd really throw a curve ball into things.

SPIDER-MAN #2 cover by Karl Kerschl
Paul Tobin: Boy that would throw a curve ball into things. I'll say this: curve balls definitely are a part of my pitching repertoire, but as far as if that particular curve ball is on the way, readers will just have to stay in the batter's box. Ending baseball metaphor now!

Marvel.com: What can you say about some of the adventures you'll be sending Spidey on in the course of this series? Will they be done-in-one tales or will you have more over arching stories carrying through?

Paul Tobin: The format I'm working with has each issue being a complete story unto itself, but with other stories building behind the scenes. So, while [one] issue might be a stand-alone story, the build up for that story can take place over several previous issues.

Marvel.com: Before we shift gears, I've got to talk about artist Matteo Lolli. What about his style do you like and how does it compliment the overall tone of the series?

Paul Tobin: One thing I really wanted for the Spider-Man title was an artist who could populate the hallways of Midtown High and the streets of New York. Spider-Man is such a hero of the people that I think it diminishes the character if an artist has a New York street scene with only two or three people walking around. Same with the school hallways. Spidey thrives in an environment, and that's what Matteo gives him. I owe Matteo a couple beers, for sure, for all the brilliant work he's done.

Marvel.com: The original MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPER HEROES book featured a rotating cast of characters. What's the situation in the new title? Will you have a main team you stick with or will there be people coming in an out?

SUPER HEROES #1 cover by Clayton Henry
Paul Tobin: For a while, I'm going to be going with a core team of Avengers, with each issue focusing on a smaller group of them in specific. There's Sue Storm, Nova, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow and The Vision. Depending on how long I keep going on the title, and depending on how editor Nate Cosby looks upon a crazy idea I've been having lately, there may be one or two surprises down the road.

Marvel.com: What went into the picking the characters you did for the title? What do you like about those characters as a writer?

Paul Tobin: We're continuing to use an Avengers team established in the earlier title as our core group of characters. They really each have their own part to play. First, I can't imagine the Avengers without Captain America, Thor and Iron Man so they all needed to be around. And then I wanted a rookie, and some cosmic powers, and Nova doubled on those duties. And a robot. What kind of team book doesn't have a robot? Needed one; brought in The Vision. That left a dire need for female characters because I like to write female characters, and I like to look at female characters. Nate Cosby suggested Sue Storm and we both laughed about that. It was a silly idea. And we talked about why it was silly, how she'd never really been in a team outside [the Fantastic Four]. And the more we talked about how it was something she'd never done, the more we wanted her to do it. So, she was in. The Black Widow is around, of course, because I have a crush on her.

Marvel.com: Who doesn't? Speaking of crushes, what's the team dynamic like in this series? Who is buddies with whom and who is already butting heads?

Paul Tobin: Here's a general rundown: Thor, there for the party. And "party" often means  "great fight!" Also, the Avengers Mansion has a great pool. Captain America: the Avengers are a great avenue for justice.

SUPER HEROES #2 cover by Clayton Henry
And he has a crush on one of the two women, despite how he really knows better. Sue Storm, a chance to step outside the "family" of the Fantastic Four, and have her own identity. And also, as a natural leader, to spread her wings and create another team. Nova. Somewhat of the goof. Desperately in love with one of the women. Learning his powers. Awed by Thor. Awed by Captain America. Even awed by the things he himself can do. Black Widow-I will not speak of The Black Widow. Why give away the glorious mysteries of Marvel's most seductive spy? Vision, on a quest for humanity, and he sees, in his fellow Avengers, the greatest that humanity has to offer. So, why not learn humanity from them? Iron Man. For Tony, the Avengers are a glorious mixture of saving the world and meeting the girls.

Marvel.com: In the first two issues you've got Magneto and the Brotherhood as well as Galactus as villains. Talk about starting off with a bang. What's the line-up looking like for the Brotherhood? And why'd you decide to go with them as the villains for the first story?

Paul Tobin: Keeping the Brotherhood small. Just Magneto, The Blob and The Toad. And I chose the Brotherhood precisely because I wanted a big threat on board-something that would make the Avengers sit up and take notice. When you've assembled a team that includes a living legend and a god, it takes a really big foe before some of the Avengers don't just hit the snooze button.

Marvel.com: What's in store for the future for the SUPER HEROES? What sort of madness and mayhem are you throwing at them?

SUPER HEROES #3 cover by Clayton Henry
Paul Tobin: All sorts of nasty foes on the way and oddities like that certain mouthy merc, but I'm most looking forward to the sub-stories. The ones building in the background, like how the Avengers should have maybe done a bit more checking before allowing one of their number onto the team.

Marvel.com: Ronan Cliquet is the artist on SUPER HEROES-what are some of your favorite things that he's drawn so far?

Paul Tobin: Love the way he draws The Blob. And his women are gorgeous. I want to go to his studio and meet some of his models. Ronan is in college, so I'm sure he sees the entire campus as reference. Really, what I'm most fond of, is that Ronan's characters have that rare ability of seeming incredibly heroic, but also like you could meet this person on the street. Dynamic but real.

Marvel.com: To close out, what about the Marvel Adventures line appeals to you? Is it partially the ability to just go wild and tell these super fun stories?

Paul Tobin: That's definitely a main factor. As a writer, I have less restrictions on where I can go, and that means I have more ways to surprise readers. I for sure want to keep people guessing.


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