By Kevin Mahadeo
With a banner title like Big Time, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN currently promises big adventure, big stories and the return of some big villains. Writer Dan Slott not only knows this, but plans on delivering on all of the above and more with the upcoming arc "Revenge of the Spider Slayer."
The storyline kicks off with January's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #652, following off of the current conflict pitting the web-slinging hero against the latest Hobgoblin, Phil Urich. With "Revenge of the Spider Slayer," Slott and artist Stefano Caselli revamp two classic Spidey villains; along with the eponymous Spider Slayer, the creative team returns Mac Gargan to his original role as the Scorpion, a rebirth the writer began weaving back in November's issue #648.
Always willing to take readers on a journey through his creative web, Slott took some time out of his busy schedule on the twice monthly AMAZING to discuss the return of the Scorpion, big changes ahead for Spidey's status quo and why Spider-Man can never get a sandwich break.
Marvel.com: To start everything off, I wanted to talk about one of the things that excites me most about this upcoming arc and that's artist Stefano Caselli.
Dan Slott: Well, I was fortunate enough to work with Stefano during my AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE days.
Marvel.com: Oh yeah! That's right. What's it like working with him now on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN? Has your dynamic changed at all?
Dan Slott: It's even better. When we were working on AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE, issues #3 and #7 were both involving, heavily, Spider-Man. While we were working on it, we were like, "Wouldn't it be great if someday we got to work on real Spider-Man?" [Laughs] And here we are! This is very much a dream come true scenario for both of us, to be working on Spider-Man together. And, both AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE issues #3 and #7 can be viewed and read on Marvel.com!
Marvel.com: Boom! Cross promotion! [Laughs] I also wanted to talk about the other aspect of the story and that is the Scorpion. As we've seen from recent issues, Mac Gargan has lost the Venom symbiote and it was revealed that he needs either the symbiote or another type of suit or he's going to die.
Dan Slott: The symbiote has been forcefully removed off him and that brings about the question of, "Where is [the symbiote] going to go next?" Whooooo… [Laughs] But in the here and now, as we head into the next arc, you're going to see Mac Gargan back in a Scorpion suit. We're not putting him in the old Scorpion suit because you've seen that. We're putting him in a new Scorpion suit.
Marvel.com: So, this sort of follows in the path of what you've been doing with all these classic Spidey villains: redesigning and bringing them back more evil and more awesome. That's what you're doing with here Mac and the Scorpion?
Dan Slott: And with Alistair Smythe, the Spider Slayer. You're going to see a new version of him too. And you're going to see—well, more surprises.
Marvel.com: What was that last part? "More surprises" you mumbled?
Dan Slott: I don't want to give too much away, but in issue #650, readers will find out the identity of the mystery figure stalking J. Jonah Jameson. And you'll see a backup in issue #651 that's drawn by Stefano. So, you'll get a tease of what the art and the look and the feel of the arc is going to be. Then in issue #652, BAM!, it starts. One of the things we've seen a lot in Big Time so far is that we've seen a lot going on with Peter Parker--new job, new apartment, what's going on with his new work mates, love interest. One of the things that happens in this new arc, once Alistair Smythe makes his move, once he and the Scorpion launch their revenge, when Peter Parker puts on that costume, it is non-stop Spider-Man adventure. There is not a minute to catch your breath. It's jumping from one thing to the next, in the costume, using the powers, being bigger than life Spidey.
Marvel.com: I'm sure that isn't to say that we won't see him as Peter Parker again at all? Like, when things calm down a bit, he'll be back to normal life?
Dan Slott: Umm…yes. [Laughs] By the end of this story, as much as things have changed for Peter Parker in Big Time in the first arc, "Kill to be You," you're going to see in "Revenge of the Spider Slayer," things will have drastically changed for Spider-Man. One of the things we've teased is that by the end of this arc, there will be a change to the roster of Spider-Man's powers.
Marvel.com: And I'm sure you'll say nothing beyond that no matter how much I beg and plead?
Dan Slott: Absolutely not. [Laughs] Something else you will see by the end of this arc will set Spider-Man, not Peter Parker, on a path to becoming a different kind of Spider-Man than we've seen before. And it will be the Spider-Man of the Big Time era.
Marvel.com: Vague enough that it doesn't give anything away, but compelling enough that it draws you in. Well said, Mr. Slott.
Dan Slott: I've been doing this for a while. [Laughs]
Marvel.com: Going back to Mac, looking at his history, he's made an interesting journey from where he started as the Scorpion to Venom and now back…
Dan Slott: I thought you were going to say where he started as a private investigator working for J. Jonah Jameson before he was put into the Stillwell experiment.
Marvel.com: See, this is the dangerous game to play with you. You're like an encyclopedia. [Laughs] But I wanted to ask, looking at everything he's been through, why do you think it's a good change for the character to put him back in the Scorpion outfit?
Dan Slott: This is going to sound like complete and utter hypocrisy from the person who had Phil Urich chop off Roderick Kingsley's head and become the new Hobgoblin, since effectively I've taken an old Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin and made them one, but this way, you get two bad guys. You get Scorpion and you get Venom. I'm going to stick with that, even though I'm completely aware of my hypocrisy in saying that. You get two villains back.
Marvel.com: Do you think Mac being the Scorpion simply works better for him as a character?
Dan Slott: The Scorpion is cleaner. Who he is and why he does what he does. Originally J. Jonah Jameson hired him to go after Spider-Man, and part of that deal had him subjected to the Stillwell experiment. One of the first things he found out was that the suit was forever bonded to his body; he was trapped in the thing. That became his main motivation after his initial fight with Spider-Man. He was now forever this freak dependent on this suit to live. That made him, in the end, [madder] at J. Jonah Jameson than he ever was at Spider-Man. That became his running motivation for who he was and why he did what he did. Making him Scorpion [again] gives him a very clear motivation for why he does why he does.
Marvel.com: To close out, between Brand New Day and Big Time, will Spider-Man ever get a break? You've joked about doing an issue where Spider-Man just eats a sandwich and relaxes. Are ever going to get that?
Dan Slott: No! No, you will get no rest for Spider-Man. None. His life is non-stop adventure. Action is his reward. No sandwich. Action!