By Jim Beard
Following "Spider-Man: One More Day," the original Spider-Man title, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, will be the only ongoing Peter Parker comic, and is set to be published three times a month. Marvel Comics has gathered together eight high-profile creators to kick off this incredible time in the history of the character, and will be launching them in teams of two, each with their own unique storyarc. From there, these amazing professionals--and probably a bunch more--will be mixed and matched, creating a Spider-Man title like never before. Ladies and gentlemen, Marvel fans of all ages, we present to you a Brand New Day, and the Spider-Man dream teams supreme...
"This will be my first and last chance! If it doesn't work, look out below!"
--Peter Parker, Spider-Man - Amazing Spider-Man #1, 1963
Brand New Day
Writer Bob Gale's a happy guy these days. He's one of the remarkably talented folks steering one of the oldest and coolest Marvel titles, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, towards new frontiers and on to new conquests. Gale's also a capable guy, prepared to take long-suffering hero Peter Parker down paths both familiar and new, with quite a clear vision for what lies ahead. See, Gale's a film man. You may have heard of a little film trilogy he was involved with: "Back to the Future."
"Some images I see clearly as comic panels, but certainly when I write an action sequence, I first think of it as a movie and write it that way," says Gale, when pointing out his film-background approach to writing comics. "Then I go through it again and try to think of how it would break into panels. I'm also using thought balloons and captions a lot because I want to use those tools that are available to me in the comics form that don't exist in film.
"I think a lot of comics try to be movies in comic book form, but I think it's more interesting to take advantage of the things you can only do in a comic," Gale adds. "I always enjoyed Stan Lee's tongue-in-cheek captions, because they brought home the point that comics were first and foremost an entertainment medium."
And Gale understands that entertainment medium quite well. An Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, he knows his way around characters and action, having a definite eye for the kind of details that both movie fans and comic readers get really, really excited about. He was creating his own comics as a teen and making his own films a few years after that; Gale's a perfect fit for a character like Spider-Man...a hero who's as comfortable on the big screen as he is on the printed page.
But what's his outlook on Peter Parker, Spider-Man? Why was he given this assignment? What does Gale want accomplish with one of the most popular fictional characters of the past century? "I think that 'we' is the preferred pronoun here, because I believe the whole ASM team is excited about getting back to accentuating Peter Parker-his personal life and problems, job issues, humanity and the everyman aspects of his character," Gale explains. "As an example, I did a one-page bit in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #552 that shows Peter laundering his Spider-Man costume because it got stained when he was chasing a bad guy. To me, this sort of thing always made Spidey stand out from every other character. You can't do that stuff with the FF or the X-Men or Batman...or most any other super-hero.
"I prefer stories that keep Spidey in NYC, dealing with criminals, menaces and problems that are rooted in reality and science, and on a less-than-epic level" notes Gale, when asked what kind of Spider-Man stories suit him best. "I don't want to see Spidey in a 'save the universe' story-no Galactus or Eternity or Thanos-and I'm not big on occult-themed stories for Spidey either."
That leaves Gale thinking about the kinds of dramatic mechanisms that give Peter Parker many of the problems he's famous for. He agrees wholeheartedly with Spidey editor Steve Wacker that one of the things that will blow readers away in "Brand New Day" is the villains-both new and old. "I've always been partial to the Lizard because of the Curt Connors persona," he says of one of his favorite baddies. "There's a certain logic to his existence-well, at least as much logic as you can expect in a comic book! The real personal tragedies Connors suffered as a result of his earnest efforts to make himself whole, and Spidey's moral dilemmas as to how to deal with him as The Lizard, always provided interesting tales."
Phil Jimenez on
New X-Men #150
Says Marvel Executive Editor-and rock-of-ages-Tom Brevoort, "Back in the day, before Sam Raimi, before even James Cameron, among my crowd of fans the consensus was that Bob Gale and Robert Zemekis should do the Spider-Man movie, based on their work on the 'Back to the Future' films. So Bob was a no-brainer. He's the elder statesman of the brain trust, a guy whose reading experience with Spider-Man goes back to almost the very beginning, so his approach to the character is very much informed by those early days, those first hundred issues or so. He's also the greatest advocate in the ASM group for packing each issue chock-full of stuff."
Gale's initial launch team consists of himself and Marvel exclusive, superstar artist Phil Jimenez. To say he's a little bit pleased about this pairing would be an understatement. "Are you kidding? It's great!" exclaims Gale. "There's no one better than Phil, and his take on Spidey (as seen in the wonderful Free Comic Book Day book [SWING SHIFT] he did with Dan Slott) is terrific. Phil is really making me look good, and I'm thrilled with what he's doing with my words. Add to that the fact that he has no problem putting lots of panels on the page to make the scenes work, and I couldn't be happier. And having seen some of the pages coming in from McNiven, LaRocca and Bachalo, I gotta tell you, Spidey fans are gonna be over the moon with all of the art!"
Jimenez is best known for his work on various DC characters, but he's absolutely no stranger to the Merry Marvel Universe. He's been known to delineate a little band of marching mutants known as the X-Men from time to time and he's as excited as Gale to have another crack at that wondrous Web-Slinger, Spider-Man. Rumor has it that comic fans across the globe think that Jimenez is just about one of the most perfect artists ever to sketch a high-flying web or telegraph a power-packed radioactive-blooded punch.
Brevoort also has a few words to say about Jimenez and what he adds to the "Brand New Day" mix. "Phil brings a modern sense of design, both in terms of his characters and the way he lays out a page and tells a story visually, as seen in the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY story he and Dan did a few months ago. He combines classic storytelling with a contemporary flair, which is precisely what we're going for on Spidey."
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: "Brand New Day" presents something of a challenge for its participating professionals, what with its new three-times-monthly status and the revolving creative teams. Gale sees it as both a tightrope and an opportunity, a project that if done right will be more than rewarding for both readers and creators alike.
"It's a major juggling act," he admits. "We've all got a lot of balls in the air, and we're each dealing with elements that the other writers will be working with as well. So you have to be careful not to mess anything up for somebody else. The fact that the books have to be written out of sequence means you might have to go back and rewrite a scene because you didn't know how the continuity was going to work when you started.
"But when it fits together, it's beautiful!"
Find out for yourself when "Brand New Day" kicks off with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #546.
Everything you need to know on the four Spider-Man: Brand New Day launch teams:
Dan Slott and Steve McNiven
Bob Gale and Phil Jimenez
Marc Guggenheim and Salvador Larroca
Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo